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Matt Wilson and his jazz band are set to headline the 2020 Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival.


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Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival Celebrates 40th Anniversary in April

Matt Wilson and his jazz band are set to headline the 2020 Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival.

March 24, 2020, update: Organizers of the 2020 Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival have decided to cancel this year’s event due to the novel coronavirus outbreak and a desire to protect the health of all guests—musicians and audience members alike.


This year’s Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival will be one to remember: 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the festival, slated to take place from April 14-18. 

Jazz drummer Matt Wilson, with special guests Tia Fuller, Ben Allison, Dawn Clement, and Jeff Lederer, headline the festival.

“There is no more fitting way to celebrate 40 years of Rootabaga Jazz than with Knoxville (Illinois) native and internationally renowned drummer, composer, and bandleader Matt Wilson,” said Knox Associate Professor of Music Nikki Malley, who also is artistic director of the Knox Jazz Year, which includes the Rootabaga Jazz Festival.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the success and longevity of the Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival are due in large part to Wilson’s decades of support and tireless promotion of the festival and the Galesburg-area community, helping to bring artists of the highest international acclaim to our community year after year,” said Malley.

Many more groups—including the Knox Alumni Big Band, Faculty and Friends Combo, the Knox Jazz Ensemble, and jazz quartet Black Diamond—are set to perform.

Matt Wilson, born in Knoxville, Illinois, has released 13 albums as a bandleader and has appeared on more than 400 others as a sideman. Wilson was named Musician of the Year in 2018 by the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA), and his album Honey And Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg won the JJA’s 2018 Album of the Year. Throughout his career, Wilson has played with some of the most notable names in jazz.

The Rootabaga Jazz Festival takes place throughout Galesburg every year. The festival celebrates local jazz heroes, as well as inviting other artists to join in the lively jazz community in Galesburg. This year, concerts will be hosted by the Orpheum Theatre, Fat Fish Pub, the Galesburg Public Library, District #205 grade schools and United High School. A product of a longtime collaboration between Knox College’s jazz program and the Galesburg community, the festival is part of the Knox Jazz Year.

Learn more about this year’s line-up, purchase tickets, and donate to the festival.

2020 Rootabaga Jazz Festival Schedule

Tuesday, April 14

Matt Wilson and Jeff Lederer School Tour group
United High School
Free and open to the public

Thursday, April 16

Faculty and Friends Combo
Fat Fish Pub, 158 N. Broad St., Galesburg
Admission: $5, Knox Students free with ID

Friday, April 17

Knox Alumni Big Band directed by Scott Garlock
8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Matt Wilson 40th Anniversary Rootabaga Extravaganza!
Fat Fish Pub, 158 N. Broad St., Galesburg
Admission: $10, Knox Students free with ID

Saturday, April 18

Rootabaga Kids: Matt Wilson Group
Galesburg Public Library
Free and open to the public

Matt Wilson 40th Anniversary Rootabaga Extravaganza!
Orpheum Theatre, 57 S. Kellogg St., Galesburg
5:00 p.m.
Admission: $20 reserved mezzanine, free floor & balcony seats

40th Anniversary Rootabaga Afterparty with Black Diamond!
Fat Fish Pub
Free and open to the public

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Printed on Tuesday, August 11, 2020