“Why did you start a jazz festival? In North Bend Washington, of all places?” Ha. The better question is probably, why do I still run a jazz festival in North Bend?
For those of you that don’t know, I started a jazz festival in 2011 called North Bend Jazz Walk, and six months later we started the North Bend Blues Walk. Every year since (except Covid) we do two festivals in North Bend to raise money for our nonprofit organization that supports live jazz performance, and education, Jazz Clubs NW.
Originally, we started this as a way to make money for the nonprofit because our restaurant couldn’t support the music on its own. But as we got other businesses in the community involved in the festival, we quickly realized that there are a lot more benefits to doing something like this than just raising money to support music.
Celebrating Local Musicians
This event celebrates local and regional musicians. Jazz Walk isn’t about presenting “big name’ acts. We celebrate local and regional musicians that often go unnoticed. From time to time I get asked about bringing in “big names” for the festival and I am not interested. While I’d love to host them and get to know them, they also would probably bust our budget. Plus we don’t have unlimited capacity. Also, many of our regional performers are fabulous and it’s great to see them have a nice audience to discover them. This year we have eighteen venues in Downtown North Bend Washington featuring: Greta Matassa, Greg Williamson New Sextet, The Boxley Quintet, Henry Fernstrom, Jared Hall, Kelley Johnson, John Hansen, Gail Pettis, Tony Foster, Brent Jensen, Matso Limtiaco, Heather Chriscaden, Moe Weisner, Jona Brown, Max Holmberg, Kelly & Sage Eisenhour, Chris Symer, Bill Leather, Chris Fagan, Stuart Hambley, John Hansen, Nathaniel Schleimer, Dean Schmidt, Fred Hoadley, Willie Garza, Brad Benefield, Paul Gabrielson, Bill Anschell, King Dahl, Isaac DeVange, Jory Tindall, Steve Jones, Jerry Steinhilber, Diana Page Quartet, Reuel Lubag, Michael Marcus, Dave Peterson, Julio Jáuregui, Trevor Evans, Matt Jorgensen- DrumsTobi Stone, Beserat Tafesse, Latin Jazz with Che, Thannie and the Smilers, Jacob Kreiger, Kendin Neri, Richard Cole, Christine Eisenmenger, plus Mount Si, Roosevelt, Mercer Island High School, CWU Jazz Ensembles and many more…
Looking at this line-up, there are a lot of people I want to see perform. It’s going to be great. Check out the line up here: www.northbendjazzwalk.com
Celebrating Venues & Their Staff
Jazz Walk celebrates venues in our town. These are coffee shops, car dealers, retailers, real estate offices, restaurants, a brewery, a bakery, and a… jazz club. This event is a chance for new people to come out and see these venues, and meet the staff and proprietors. It’s a great event for businesses. Hosting this event, we have 18 great venues that span a few blocks in charming Downtown North Bend in Washington State. Most venues are all-ages. Venues marked with ++ are ages 21 and over.
1- Pour House Bar & Grill ++
2- Moose Lodge
3- Wildflower Bistro ++
5- Vintage Baristas~Pioneer Cafe North Bend
6- Birches Habitat
7- North Bend Theatre
8- Pro Ski and Mountain Service
9- Volition Brewing Co.
10- Cook Real Estate
11- North Bend Chevrolet
12- Chang Thai Cuisine
13- North Bend Trading Company
14- North Bend Bakery & Cafe
15- Twin Peaks Pub ++
16- Twede’s Cafe
17- Twin Peaks Nutrition and Wellness
18- RE/MAX Integrity North Bend
That’s quite a list of venues!
We started incorporating student groups early on to showcase the excellent work that they did to learn music and perform it well. We’ve also had a number of students perform with professionals on the same stage. This mentorship part of our programming is not new, but the festival gives us a bigger stage to show how incredibly wonderful such an opportunity is. We have a stage at this event dedicated to celebrating both High School and College students.
It’s also exciting to see students involved in running this festival. They help with sound, marketing, running stages, checking wristbands, and so much more. Again at Boxleys we have students that help run sound and help run our shows all the time, but this is a larger venue for them to showcase what they can do.
Celebrating Our Community
Jazz Walk celebrates our community by bringing out locals and mixing them with visitors. We get about 50/50 split with attendees that live in Snoqualmie Valley compared to those that drive out for the festival. I love wandering around the town during the event and seeing 100’s of people I know. Quite literally hundreds. It’s great to see them out checking out the town. The town of North Bend rarely feels more alive than when it’s out walking around from venue to venue during Jazz Walk!
Celebrating Patrons of this Music
At the end of the day, it’s the patrons that come out and support the music that make it possible. This event is so important to the lifeblood of our music culture. Three cheers for those patrons and sponsors that make it possible to happen this, and every year.
There are many other reasons that I started this festival, and more importantly why I keep doing it. Largely they stem from each personal connection made from the items above. In my own way, I feel like I am making a difference. I am supporting friends in each and every one of those categories. Friends in business, friends who are musicians, friends who are patrons, and supporting this community I live in. I love my little town.
I hope to see you at the Jazz Walk this weekend!