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It’s back!

And there are some exciting new twists to the return of the Jazz in the Valley festival after the year of the pandemic took it out of commission in 2020.

The good news is the scaled-back version will take place on July 30-31 at various locations around town, and the even better news, organizers will make the two-day event free.

“The plan is to bring in six to eight bands. The cool thing is that we are not charging money, kind of a thank to the community for putting up with restrictions for so long. So, let’s party downtown,” said Jazz in the Valley board president Tony Swartz. “This year was tough because every month there were changes (in health directives).

“So, it was difficult to make a final decision earlier than this. We just tried to simplify it and go with what we have.”

They will not use the pavilion this year because it takes quite a bit to set up in terms of chairs, sound equipment and lighting. But there will be a couple of new venues to give the festival a new flavor.

They will use the Top of the Burg outdoor dining venue at the Hotel Windrow. A cool summer breeze to go along with cool summer jazz. Organizers will also include the Red Pickle, 301 N. Pine St., as an additional outdoor venue. The downtown venues also include indoors at the Pearl Bar & Grill and the lobby and restaurant area in the Hotel Windrow as well.

“We’ll use the Red Pickle outdoor area for the music, which will be cool,” Swartz said. “We’re also going to use the Pearl Bar & Grill back room inside. We’ll put a band in the restaurant area of the Windrow earlier in the day for the dinner crowd.

“We’re encouraging local restaurants and business to book their own acts to make it an entire downtown musical weekend.”

This year’s musical lineup includes Nick Mardon, the Harmonious Funk Band, Rusty Cage, Michael Powers, the Dmitri Matheny Group with Gail Pettis and the Mel Peterson Band.

“By July we don’t believe there will be any restrictions and things will be back to normal,” Swartz said. “We’re ready to enjoy some music and we just kept it simple this year.”

Organizers have are not ready to announce where which band will play, so stay in touch with jazzinthevalley.com.

“It is a free event, but if people want to make a donation, there will be a tab on our website,” Swartz said.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at rharwood@kvnews.com

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