Known for its miles of pristine white sand beaches and ever-present sunshine, Clearwater Beach is the ideal spot when planning a Florida getaway. From deep sea fishing on a chartered boat to visiting Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the area is packed full of activities for all tastes. The Beach Walk is a must and features artistic landscaping, surf shops, ample room for outdoor activities, and breathtaking views of the coast.
The Suncoast Jazz Classic has preserved and promoted jazz music for nearly three decades, and it will take place November 17-19. This year’s event will feature more than 25 jazz performers from across the country. They range from local youngsters just starting their performing careers to established national acts like Louis Prima Jr. Patrons can attend performances on five stages spread out between the Sheraton Sand Key and Clearwater Beach Marriott. The bands will rotate venues giving attendees new settings and experiences for each performance. Various jam sessions will also take place during the event that include featured performers and some special guests. The sessions are also a great way for patrons and musicians alike to meet musicians and learn about jazz. We interviewed Laurean Callander, a representative for the event to learn more about this massive celebration of Jazz.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
LC: This is our 27th year!
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
LC: We expect more than 2,000 attendees.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
LC: We mostly see adults and couples interested in celebrating jazz.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
LC: Great question! We attract top talent from around the country that honors the 20's style of traditional jazz. This festival is one of the top festivals in the nation for this style of jazz.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
LC: Throughout the weekend, all the bands rotate venues, and festival goers have a fun time switching between sites chasing their favorite bands. Please visit the event website for the full schedule of activities.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
LC: We have a variety of talented musicians that regularly come to play, watch, and participate in our jam sessions. A few years ago, we had Louis Armstrong's daughter with us for the full weekend.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
LC: The host resorts have fantastic dining options. Many festival-goers love to take advantage of their trolley privileges and venture out to find new dining spots around town. All banded and badged festival goers get full on-off privileges of our local open-air trolley system that travels up and down Clearwater Beach.
RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?
LC: We are a fun and energetic festival. Tennis shoes or comfortable sandals are the best footwear to enjoy the festival, as many festival-goers love to walk in the Florida sunshine as they switch between the Sheraton and Marriott.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?
LC: The Sheraton and Marriott are the primary host hotels for the festival. The Sheraton is our central location for ticket sales and our band hospitality suites. Most festival goers who want to stay as close as possible to the fun will choose to stay at the Sheraton. Several other hotels offer group rates near the Sheraton, and their info and prices are on our website.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
LC: This year, we were awarded a grant from the City of Clearwater to extend our festival and bring free jazz events into the community. We have great partnerships with venues all over Clearwater that are making this event possible. We are thrilled for this opportunity to help keep jazz alive in our community.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
LC: The majority of our festival-goers are from out of state and out of the country (Canada, Germany, and Europe). Our event brings a lot of local spending to area businesses.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
LC: Whether it's your first time or your 27th, you’ll feel welcome and have a ball making new friends while discovering new bands and dance steps.
For more information about the Suncoast Jazz Classic, please visit the event website.