Tag Archives: Norman Brown

Check out the surprise guests at the SJN party

During Smooth Jazz News’ 17th Anniversary Brunch Party & Jam Session at Spaghettini, DW3 commands brunch crowd to wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care (Photo by David Hopley)

Like an orchestra with many different musicians and instruments, publishing Smooth Jazz News requires a lot of people playing a variety of roles. One of the key components of nearly every artistic endeavor is funding. And, for magazines, advertising sales keep the presses rolling. So, each year, we host the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch Parties & Jam Sessions to show our appreciation to our advertisers.

Spaghettini Champagne Jazz Brunch (clockwise, left to right): Damon Reel, Rick Braun; Rick Braun, Gail Jhonson & Richard Elliot; Christiane Braun & Camella Elliot (Photos by David Hopley)

We invite everyone who has advertised with us in the prior year, along with some special guest artists, to sit in our allocated area of the performance lounge at Spaghettini Fine Dining and Entertainment in Seal Beach, California. The remainder of the lounge and the entire restaurant is open to the public for reservation purchases, so our readers and other jazz fans can also enjoy DW3 (or a featured band) and the special entertainment. And, because we invite so many advertisers, we can’t fit them all into our section, so that’s why we have two parties. They’re usually held in January during the NAMM Show (when a lot of musicians are in Anaheim, California, for that National Association of Music Music Merchants industry-only convention), and in February when DW3 is available to perform.

Conga line parading through Spaghettini’s lounge while DW3 brings the party ON during Smooth Jazz News’ 17th Anniversary party! (Photos by David Hopley)

We held the last of our 2017 parties on Sunday, Feb. 19, with DW3 back onstage in the lounge during Spaghettini’s Legendary Champagne Jazz Brunch. Our musical guests featured trumpeter Rick Braun with his wife Christiane and daughter Emma, saxophonist Richard Elliot and his wife Camella (Rick and Richard are touring this year as West Coast Jam with Norman Brown and a horn section) and keyboardist Gail Jhonson (founder of the all-female ensemble Jazz in Pink).

Camella Elliot (left) takes photos of her husband, Richard Elliot, during his jam with DW3 (Photos by David Hopley)

Our advertisers guest list included concert and festival promoters such as Kim and Ozzie Benoit (Rainbow Promotions), Kim’s dad Al Williams (founder of Rainbow Promotions, who is now retired) and his wife Sandy, Evette Benjamin (Gardena Jazz Festival) and Sandy Riser (Rick Braun’s Signature Events) and her husband Bernie Weisberg.

Celebrating Smooth Jazz News’ 17th Anniversary at Spaghettini in Seal Beach (clockwise, left to right) Camella & Richard Elliot; Al Williams, Ozzie Benoit, Willie Payne, Kim Benoit, Easton Schirra; back row: DW3 (Billy Mondragon, Eric Mondragon & Damon Reel, front row: Joan Giddens, Kathy & Willie Payne, Kim & Ozzie Benoit (Photos by David Hopley)

Kathy and Willie Payne, owners of Payne Pest Management, attended the event with Kathy’s mom, Joan Giddens. The Paynes have been longtime sponsors of many smooth jazz concerts and festivals, including the San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival, scheduled for July 7-9, which is produced by Rainbow Promotions.

Daniel Broadway (Mack Avenue Records) & Easton Schirra; keyboardist Gail Jhonson & trombonist Geoff Alpert; writer Ken Capobianco with his wife, Ratanan (Photos by David Hopley)

Daniel Broadway, the latest addition to Mack Avenue Records‘ sales and marketing team, along with his guest Easton Schirra, got their first glimpse into the live smooth jazz scene at our party.

Brenda Lavery-Madruga, Rick Braun & Emma Braun dancing in the crowd at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Artist managers Steve Chapman and Bud Harner of Chapman & Co. Management were there with their wives, photographer-filmmaker Lori Stoll and writer-actor Debra Harner, respectively.

Advertisers and artists celebrating Smooth Jazz News’ 17 anniversary at Spaghettini on Feb. 19, 2017 (left to right): back row: Craig Collier, Willie Payne, Daniel Broadway, Emma Braun, Rick Braun, Ozzie Benoit, Damon Reel, Eric Mondragon, Gail Jhonson, Billy Mondragon, Bud Harner, Lori Stoll, Steve Chapman; front row: Evette Benjamin, Kathy Payne, Christiane Braun, Sandy Riser, Q (Spaghettini manager), Al Williams, Kim Benoit, Richard Elliot, Camella Elliot, Debra Harner (Photo by David Hopley)

These are the people who provide the financial support to allow me, as maestro of sorts for Smooth Jazz News, to compose this magazine along with a team of … Professional journalists who write the stories about the artists and events we love; Seasoned editors who proofread myriad drafts of all of the content contained in each issue; Photographers who capture the images of the artists and this lifestyle; Highly skilled graphic designers who take that copy and those photos and create visually pleasing layouts; A top-notch web press that prints and binds each magazine; An efficient support staff that processes subscription and merchandise orders, handles the mass mailings of the magazines and all administrative duties; Local and national distributors, who deliver bundles of magazines to select outlets. Nearly all of this is being done on a deadline.

Gina Giblin, Smooth Jazz News graphic designer, with her husband Shane at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

The last few days of production for each issue of Smooth Jazz News are the most intense. That is when final editing happens, layout revisions are made and headlines tweaked, etc. During this time, I sit with our graphic designer, Gina Mancini-Giblin, at her desk going over the pages, choosing photos, placing ads, making corrections and finalizing any changes. A replacement graphic designer, who once filled in for Gina while she sailed on her first Dave Koz & Friends at Sea cruise during one of those deadlines, once described this frenetic process as me being like an air traffic controller directing Gina as though she was dozens of incoming and outgoing aircraft. She said the speed at which we communicated as Gina flew between layouts and files was so fast that she got motion sickness from watching the rapid changes on the computer screen.

Rick Braun at the buffet with fans at Spaghettini (top photo); Willie Payne, Camella Elliot, Cary Hardwick (Spaghettini and Citizen co-owner) & Richard Elliot at Spaghettini’s Legendary Champagne Jazz Brunch (Photo by David Hopley)

Although, we have a bunch of great folks who volunteer to help at concerts and festivals, professional graphic designers, writers, editors, distribution companies, support staff and printing presses don’t work for free. In order to pay them and other business expenses, we rely on advertising sales. Without advertisers, Smooth Jazz News magazine would not have been in business for the past 17 years.

Richard Elliot sitting in with DW3 at Spaghettini, while server Jill Bogle hands Damon Reel a note from a fan (Photo by David Hopley)

We also wanted to include some of these integral, behind-the-scenes contributors in our celebration.

Craig Collier, Smooth Jazz News operations and distribution manager, leads conga line dancers into the lounge at Spaghettini (Photos by David Hopley)

Our beloved writer Ken Capobianco enjoyed the day with his wife, Ratanan, while our newest editor Kerri De Rosier got to share her first-time Spaghettini brunch experience with her dentist husband, Dave.

Kerri De Rosier (SJN editor), Kris Glaeser (SJN volunteer), Felicia Pennington (SJN volunteer), Pete Glaeser (SJN volunteer) and Dr. Dave De Rosier (Photo by David Hopley)

Longtime SJN festival and distribution volunteers Kris and Pete Glaeser, along with Felicia Pennington, celebrated with us as well.

Smooth Jazz News party hostess Brenda Lavery Madruga (photo by David Hopley)

And our parties would not be nearly as fun or successful without the help of Smooth Jazz News hostess Brenda Lavery-Madruga, our outstanding Spaghettini server Angelina Calandrino and her assistants.

Angelina Calandrino, Spaghettini server, providing outstanding service to Smooth Jazz News party guests (Photo by David Hopley)

To everyone, I say THANK YOU! And, I hope to see you next year.––By Melanie Maxwell

For more information about the smooth jazz scene, keep reading Smooth Jazz News, in print or online, www.smoothjazznews.com.

Meanwhile, here are some more photos from the Smooth Jazz News 17th Anniversary Brunch Party & Jam Session at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California (all photos by David Hopley):

Smooth Jazz News 17th Anniversary Brunch Party & Jam Session at Spaghettini: top photo – Rick Braun dancing with his daughter, Emma; bottom photo – DW3-inspired conga line dancing through the lounge (Photos by David Hopley)

Damon Reel, Rick Braun, Eric Mondragon, Gail Jhonson, Richard Elliot & Billy Mondragon (Photo by David Hopley)

Writer Ken Capobianco, Sandy Williams, Al Williams, Ozzie Benoit, Willie Payne, Kim Benoit, Easton Schirra & Daniel Broadway (Photo by David Hopley)

Al Williams, Kim & Ozzie Benoit, Easton Schirra, Daniel Broadway and more (Photo by David Hopley)

Al Williams chats with Rick Braun & Richard Elliot while Brenda Lavery-Madruga (Smooth Jazz News hostess) looks on (Photo by David Hopley)

DW3 engages brunch crowd at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Rick Braun performing with DW3 at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Gail Jhonson, Willie Payne, Kim Benoit & Ozzie Benoit at Spaghettini’s Legendary Champagne Jazz Brunch (Photo by David Hopley)

Emma Braun (left) enjoying the music of DW3 at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Marcus Anderson at the Smooth Jazz News 17th Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session on Jan. 22 (Photo by David Hopley)

Phillip “Doc” Martin, Ray Parker Jr., Mariea Antoinette, Pat Prescott and Paul Jackson Jr. at the Jan. 22, 2017, party (Photo by David Hopley)

Pat Prescott interviewing Ray Parker Jr. during live broadcast with Los-Angeles-based radio station 94.7 The WAVE at Spaghettini on Jan. 22, 2017 (Photos by David Hopley)

Phillip “Doc” Martin, Ray Parker Jr. and Paul Jackson Jr. at the Smooth Jazz News 17th Anniversary Brunch Party at Spaghettini on Jan. 22, 2017 (Photo by David Hopley)

Behind the scenes with Seabreeze Jazz Festival producer

Patio at the oceanfront Calypso Resort and Towers in Panama City Beach, Florida

Patio at the oceanfront Calypso Resort and Towers in Panama City Beach, Florida

Are you planning to attend the Seabreeze Jazz Festival this year? If so, check out this interview I had with Mark Carter, the event’s producer. He talks about his passion for the genre, how he chose the lineup, and what changes are happening for this 17th annual event in Panama City Beach, Florida.

2013 Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City Beach, Florida

2013 Seabreeze Jazz Festival at Aaron Bessant Park in Panama City Beach, Florida

SJN: You have another amazing lineup this year. What was your artist selection based on?

Brian Culbertson, Al Jarreau and George Benson are scheduled to perform at the 2015 Seabreeze Jazz Festival

Brian Culbertson, Al Jarreau and George Benson are scheduled to perform at the 2015 Seabreeze Jazz Festival

MC: This year, we focused on three types of smooth jazz artists in our festival bookings. First you have what I call “The Legends.” These are artists or groups that were credited with actually starting the smooth jazz format…going back to the mid 1980’s. I’m talking about artists like David Sanborn, The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman, Acoustic Alchemy and the multi-talented George Benson. These are the core legendary artists that caught the nation’s attention and started the renaissance of what became contemporary jazz or smooth jazz. Al Jarreau also fits in this category as his music also helped to paint the canvas of coolness in a mass appeal way.

BWB featuring Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun (Photo by Lori Stoll)

BWB featuring Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun, scheduled to perform on Saturday, April 25  (Photo by Lori Stoll)

The second group we targeted was “The Hit-makers”––the current top smooth jazz artists shaping contemporary jazz today. These are artists like Brian Culbertson, Euge Groove, Jazz Funk Soul, BWB, The Sax Pack, Mindi Abair, Eric Darius, Down To the Bone and others.

Euge Groove

Euge Groove is scheduled to perform on Thursday, April 23

Since Seabreeze Jazz Festival is the only jazz festival in America created by an actual smooth jazz radio station, current airplay and new CD releases all play important roles in booking the right blend of artists. Attention to both artist tempo and texture is factored, so that some sets of music soothe while others get you on your feet! This is why stellar guitar player Chris Standring, Canada’s Four80East, as well as UK-based smooth jazz group Down To The Bone are included for their diverse sounds and “funkanomics”––there has to be some funk in the mix. Like programming a great set of music on the radio, the lineup and order of the artists can make or break a great listening experience. We treat the lineup like a weekend of music programmed on the radio.

Chris Standring, Marcus Anderson (Photo by Pat Benter) and Matt Marshak are scheduled to perform at the 2015 Seabreeze Jazz Festival

Chris Standring, Marcus Anderson (Photo by Pat Benter) and Matt Marshak are scheduled to perform at the 2015 Seabreeze Jazz Festival

And, the third group is the “New Lions”––the new talented artists of tomorrow that are turning heads and ears today. Artists like trumpeter Ryan Montano and pop/jazz/hip-hop violinist Josh Vietti. Canadian guitarist Rob Tardik fits this description as he has won numerous awards in Canada yet many smooth jazz fans are not familiar with him though he is amazing.

Mindi Abair (Photo by Greg Allen)

Mindi Abair is scheduled to perform with The Boneshakers on Sunday, April 26 (Photo by Greg Allen)

The 2015 lineup represents a full roster of all of these styles and categories, which is why I feel the Seabreeze Jazz Festival is unique.

First time performers to our festival this year include David Sanborn, Al Jarreau, Acoustic Alchemy, Chris Standring, Josh Vietti and Rob Tardik.

SJN: I believe you mentioned that you were expanding your VIP area this year. Can you please provide me with the details?

MC: We added a secondary level of VIP seating called Gold Reserve. This new section of 800 reserved seats will be located directly in front of the stage right behind the VIP section. Gold Reserve offers many of the benefits of VIP including reserved seating for all four days of the festival, on-site parking, dedicated air-conditioned restrooms, special entrance and early entry, with complimentary water and beer/wine (4 per day). Gold Reserve attendees select their seat and row from the festival seating chart and guaranteed to be the same great seat each day. No need to stand in line early and rush in with your chairs to get the best seats up front. VIP tickets sold out so fast this year (in just a few weeks) that the Gold Reserve became a reality––and a new alternative.

SJN: Which vendors do you plan to have this year?

MC: We are planning to upgrade the vendor area with more food options that cater better to the “smooth jazz experience.” Our vendor area will include a diverse selection of gourmet food trucks from as far away as Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando and New Orleans. Many attendees have asked for more variety and healthier options, so we are responding to that request. Food trucks are really popular across America today, and they excite the palate with the ability to offer high-end tastes in what is a rolling restaurant. Fans with gluten-free diets, vegan and vegetarians will be pleased with the changes. But we also will continue with the tried and true soul food, barbecue, chicken, hot dogs, burgers, and seafood along with gourmet grilled cheese, tacos, Mediterranean wraps, healthy wraps, pizza and more. We will even have an unbelievable cupcake food truck with dozens of decadent cupcakes.

In addition, our vendor area will include select art and merchandise vendors with original art, hats, women’s clothing, jewelry and more. One vendor exclusively sells items direct from Africa at our event, so the selection will be both interesting to shop and very unique.

SJN: I received a press release from you last week regarding you partnering with Top Global Radio Jazz Provider JAZZRADIO.com. As the owner of a terrestrial radio station yourself, how is it that you have always welcomed partnerships with online radio stations, especially because your station is streamed online?

MC: JazzRadio.com has 37 online channels of jazz and currently reaches over 2 million listeners per day, and currently offers the most inclusive and diverse online jazz streaming service on any company on the Internet. This fact is very attractive in growing the jazz festival to a more global audience. Streaming audio is becoming more important to smooth jazz fans around the country who have unfortunately lost their local smooth jazz radio stations. They either have to go to satellite radio or turn to the Internet for new music. These are the listeners who are left in the cold, who love the format but their local stations are gone. We are trying to reach these displaced listeners with our sponsorship with JazzRadio.com.

JazzRadio.com has cultivated a solid smooth jazz base offering 37 unique jazz channels that will truly appeal to the tastes of the smooth jazz audience. JazzRadio.com also features Jimi King––renowned smooth jazz music programmer and presenter––with his weekly live show direct from London on Sundays. Their music is easily available online, or with a smart phone or tablet, and, again, it is free to all fans.

SJN: What is the best compliment you receive about your festival?

MC: “I had so much fun I got lost in the music” was one great comment. Many love the vibe of the festival: the sea breeze blowing off the beach, good times with good people all connected together with their love of smooth jazz.

Others comment how friendly everyone is, like “coming home” and feeling so welcomed.

The Seabreeze Jazz Festival showcases the best of the smooth jazz format, creating an “ultimate” weekend of music featuring 20 smooth jazz acts for one great ticket price. Many fans love the fact we don’t act like an R & B festival in smooth jazz clothing! You come for smooth jazz, you get smooth jazz.

Couple enjoying a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico from a Resort Quest condo in Panama City Beach, Florida

Couple enjoying a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico from a ResortQuest condo in Panama City Beach, Florida

The venue offers shopping at 160+ stores and eateries at Pier Park directly across the street, with white-sand beaches close by and convenient condos and hotels––many within walking distance. And, Panama City Beach offers world-renowned fishing, golf and other outdoor recreational activities.

Ladies enjoying lunch and ocean view at a Pier Park eatery in Panama City Beach, Florida

Ladies enjoying lunch and ocean views at a Pier Park eatery in Panama City Beach, Florida

SJN: Are there any changes happening this year?

MC: One big change is our new “smart” armbands from Intellitix that we are calling “JazzBands.” Attendees will enjoy quick entry into the event with this new system currently being used by over 40 events across the globe in 2014.

The way the technology works is each fabric armband has a RFID chip inside that is encoded with their ticket order––so entry into the event is a simple scan through a portal at the entrance. We will be the first event on the Gulf Coast to use this technology for festival entry.

In addition, the Seabreeze Jazz Festival is using these armbands to go totally “cashless” with the convenience of linking a credit card or cash to the armbands. All food and merchandise inside the event will be purchased through a quick scan of these hi-tech wristbands. This is the same type of system that Disney has used at their theme parks (with The Magic Band) as well as some of the high-end cruise lines.

Attendees will be able to register their armbands starting April 9th at www.JazzBands.com, and allocate funds via their credit card to the wristbands. If they wish to wait until the event, they can stop at a Top Up Station on-site and load cash or credit to their JazzBands for a worry-free and hassle-free weekend of music and shopping. No need to worry about lost cash or credit cards. Or they can set a budget for spending and easily manage their account.

Attendees can pre-load credit on the armbands and manage their account via their smartphone. Any unspent monies are refunded back to the attendee’s credit card (or a bank check is mailed if cash is used) minus a $5 service fee at the end of the weekend. Seabreeze will be offering $5 free JazzBucks with each $100 that is loaded on the armbands to offset the service fee.

For the user, purchases take less than 3 seconds, as you simply swipe and tap to confirm each purchase. (www.seabreezejazzfestival.com/cashless.html)

Another change is year––to speed up entry and comply with security guidelines––is no outside food or beverages will be allowed including no coolers. Attendees are welcome to bring an empty water or sports bottle for free water refills inside the park, a small umbrella, small bag or backpack and one chair per person. Bottled water will be sold at $1 a bottle, and a wide variety of food options will be available with the new expanded food court area. Many food vendors will be offering $5 value meals and other affordable options.

Check the rules section of the jazz fest site for all rules and policies at www.seabreezejazzfestival.com/rules.html

The Sax Pack: Steve Cole, Jeff Kashiwa & Kim Waters, are scheduled to perform  at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival on Friday, April  25, and a CD-Release party at Pompano Joe's on Friday, April 24

The Sax Pack–Steve Cole, Jeff Kashiwa & Kim Waters–is scheduled to perform at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival on Friday, April 25, and a CD-Release party at Pompano Joe’s on Friday, April 24

SJN: What are the highlights of this year’s festival?

MC: In addition to the main performances, the dinner and lunch cruises and the popular after-party events, we have added a Sax Pack CD-Release Party on Friday, April 24th, at 1pm at Pompano Joe’s located inside Pier Park. The original Sax Pack (Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Kim Waters) will unveil their new CD celebrating the 10th Anniversary of The Sax Pack. The CD-Release Party will include a lunch appetizer buffet and a private performance, question-and-answer session with the band and signed copy of the new CD––all overlooking the Gulf of Mexico from the rooftop stage at Pompano Joe’s. Tickets are $55 each, and available online at www.seabreezejazzfestival.com or by phone at 800-595-4849.

Rob DeBoer & Tony Grace of Four80East

Tony Grace & Rob DeBoer of Four80East

We are also offering a FREE Sunday After-Party show at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Pier Park on Sunday night April 26th, starting at 10:30pm. Hosted by Four80East, Matt Marshak and Marcus Anderson, the event will also feature special smooth jazz guest stars and surprises. A full menu and cash bar will be available. Free admission.

Is there anything else you feel is important for our readers to know about this year’s festival?

Our jazz festival artwork, “Body and Soul,” was created by the late Atlanta artist J. Micheal Howard, and will be featured on Seabreeze Jazz Festival T-Shirts and our festival poster. This work embodies all of the fun, funky and yet cool sound of smooth jazz in vibrant colors and true style. J. Michael Howard’s original works, posters, and T-shirts will be available for sale in our Featured Artist tent all weekend.

Colorful bedroom furnishings at Florida Linen, my favorite Panama City Beach store , 12011 Panama City Beach Pkwy. (www.floridalinen.net)

Colorful bedroom furnishings at Florida Linen, my favorite Panama City Beach store, 12011 Panama City Beach Pkwy. (www.floridalinen.net)

Also, we are again offering a FREE four-day pass ($250 value) for each good used band instrument donation to L.I.N.K.S. of Northwest Florida (Lonely Instruments For Needy Kids). This non-profit program takes used band instruments, repairs them and puts them in the hands of disadvantaged kids who wouldn’t normally be able to participate in their local middle or high school band programs.

In 2014, Seabreeze Jazz Festival fans donated over 120 good band instruments that went back into the music program at several Northwest Florida schools.

Playground Music Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is collecting the donated instruments. For more on the program and the free jazz festival tickets call Tony Leonard at 850-243-2514. Here is the link to all the details: www.seabreezejazzfestival.com/links.html

Come experience the Southern charm of Northwest Florida at an event that pairs beautiful white-sand beaches with top smooth jazz entertainment all in an explosive weekend of 20 top artists at a venue you will fall in love with.

Ocean view from a condo in the Calypso Towers in Panama City Beach, Florida

Ocean view from a condo in the Calypso Towers in Panama City Beach, Florida

Seabreeze is more than just music…or a beach vacation. It is a place and time where you can get lost in the music and celebrate the good life: great music and good friends. Now that’s what smooth jazz is all about.

What do you think about the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, the lineup, the venue, Panama City Beach? Please post your comments below. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Check out the April issue of Smooth Jazz News for more information on the 17th Annual Seabreeze Jazz Festival, scheduled for April 22-26, in Panama City Beach, Florida. For tickets and details, visit www.seabreezejazzfestival.com.