After canceling its 40th-anniversary celebration last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival is adapting and returning in 2021 with live, in-person performances that also will be shown online on April 16 and 17. Featured performers for this year’s event are Soul Message and Greg Ward’s Rogue Parade. A product of a longtime collaboration between Knox College and the Galesburg community, the Rootabaga Jazz Festival is part of the Knox Jazz Year.
“We’re very happy to be able to continue sharing and celebrating music with the Knox and Galesburg communities and beyond,” said Andy Crawford, managing director of the Knox Jazz Year.
This year’s festival will look different due to the pandemic, and a limited number of people will be permitted at live performances. All events will be held at the Orpheum Theatre on April 16 and 17, with a maximum audience of 70 permitted at each live show. Mask and social distancing protocols will be enforced. Tickets will be sold by the Orpheum for $5, with all proceeds benefiting the theatre.
All performances also will be live-streamed on the Knox College YouTube channel and the Central Illinois Jazz Society (CIJS) Facebook page.
Soul Message has a soulful and infectious style crafted around funky grooves, and its sound is rooted in the tradition of great Hammond B3 organists like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, and Groove Holmes. The Soul Message Band consists of jazz organist Chris Foreman, drummer Greg Rockingham, guitarist Lee Rothenberg, and saxophonist Geof Bradfield.
Created by saxophonist and composer Greg Ward, the Rogue Parade ensemble explores the textures and improvisational possibilities of a hybrid of electric, digital, and acoustic instrumentation. Ward has assembled a group of highly creative musicians featuring Dave Miller on guitar and effects, Matt Gold on guitar and effects, Matt Ulery on upright and electric bass, and Quin Kirchner on drums. He also composed a new set of music exploring this unique instrumentation, blending the acoustic and electronic sonic worlds. Rogue Parade released an award-winning album on Greenleaf Music and has toured the United States and Europe.
Student musicians from the Knox Jazz Ensemble and Cherry Street Combo will make a video recording of their performances before the festival. Segments from that video will be presented prior to the live shows on the Orpheum Theatre’s big screen and on the festival’s live stream.
Another traditional part of the festival, jazz musicians performing at area schools, also is happening this year in a modified way. The Tito Carrillo School Tour group will present virtual assemblies to elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the region; given the virtual nature of this year's Rootabaga Jazz School Tour, these virtual assemblies are available to share with the whole community. Carrillo is a trumpeter, educator, bandleader, composer, and arranger who has been a fixture in the Chicago jazz and Latin music scenes since 1996. He has performed, recorded, and toured with a wide range of artists, including Kurt Elling, Tito Puente, and Phil Collins.
Find out more about this year’s Rootabaga Jazz festival.
2021 Rootabaga Jazz Festival Schedule
All shows will be live-streamed free on the Knox College YouTube Channel and the CIJS Facebook page from the Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg. A maximum of 70 people will be allowed to attend each show in person. In-person tickets are available at the Orpheum Theatre for $5 each.
Friday, April 16, 2021
7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Rootabaga Kids: Soul Message
10 a.m. Children are free with a $5 adult ticket.
Greg Ward's Rogue Parade
4 p.m and 7 p.m.