Each year, Knox College and the city of Galesburg host the Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival. 'Baga, as it is affectionately known by band members, features performances by big name guest artists such as Kurt Elling, Benny Green, and the Artie Shaw and Woody Herman bands. Knox faculty and alumni, and the Knox Jazz Ensemble, also perform.
In addition to bringing top-notch jazz to Galesburg, the Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival gives Knox musicians the unique opportunity to interact with guest artists. Visiting musicians typically give lessons and master classes, perform with the big band or combo and hang out with the band after-hours at The Jazz House or local restaurants.
The Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival represents a unique partnership between Knox College, the Galesburg business community, and area music lovers and arts supporters. Few communities can boast a jazz festival with such rich history and such continued success.
The Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival was initiated by Galesburg community members Mona and Tom Tourlentes at Carl Sandburg College in 1980. It began as the Rootabaga Jazz Festival, named after a series of children's stories by writer Carl Sandburg, who intentionally misspelled 'rutabaga' for the book's title. Scott Garlock, who is now on the music faculty at Ashland University, brought the festival to Knox and downtown Galesburg in 1992.
The festival has brought big name performers including: Matt Wilson, the Noah Preminger Group, the Ben Allison Quartet, Greg Osby, Julian Lage, the Youngblood Brass Band, Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls, Happy Apple, Mose Allison, Kurt Elling, Joey DeFrancesco, and Benny Green.
|2012||Noah Preminger Group, Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls|
|2011||The Julian Lage Group, The Funky Butt Brass Band|
|2010||The Matt Wilson Trio|
|2009||Aaron Goldberg Trio, The Romaniacs|
|2008||The Hilario Duran Trio, The Renegades|
|2007||The Ben Allison Quartet, Happy Apple|
|2006||Jim Rotondi, Eric Alexander, Ashanti|
|2005||Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts, Youngblood Brass Band|
|2004||Greg Osby Four, Doug Wamble Quartet|
|2003||Mose Allison, Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers|
|2002||Joey DeFrancesco Trio, Tony Monaco Trio|
|2001||Kurt Elling Quartet, Orbert Davis, Zach Brock|
|2000||Benny Green, Pat Harbison, Mike Lee, Matt Wilson|
|1999||Rob McConnell, Bobby Shew, Mark Vinci, Orquesta Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz|
|1998||The Hornheads, Jae Sinnitt Trio, Orquesta Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz, Mike Pagan, Rich Shanklin|
|1997||Curtis Fuller, Brad Goode, Mike Smith, Gene Parker, Kevin Hart Latin Jazz Quintet|
|1996||The Hornheads, Charlie Kohlhase Quintet|