Local musician planning “world-class” jazz and blues fest

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Robert Clark, on bass, along with Catahoula Brown, and Jordi Comstock on drums.</p>

A local musician has plans to launch the first annual Mahone Bay Jazz & Blues Festival October 2 and 3.

The event was originally slated for June 19 and 20, but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robert Clark, a bassist with the local band Waterfront Gang, says a jazz and blues festival is something he's been working on for years. He's intending to host it at the Mahone Bay Centre.

"I wanted a venue where we could showcase world-class jazz and blues, primarily because it's jazz and blues that I play. But I also wanted to give something back to the community," said Clark, who was born in Barss Corner.

"The music programs here in Lunenburg County really were the foundation in my development and my entry into the music world," he explained to LighthouseNOW. A band from a Lunenburg County school will perform in the festival each year, while a portion of the funds raised through the festival will go to school music programs.

Clark went on to study jazz for four years at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, and since then has been a fixture on the South Shore music circuit.

He calls himself a semi-professional musician, "because I do have a day job."

To orchestrate the music festival, Clark launched an event planning and booking agency called WFG Entertainment, which alludes to the name of Clark's band.

According to Clark, the popular South Shore band puts a "twist" onto American jazz, "more of a rocky feel or a groove feel, if you want to put it that way."

In organizing the festival, Clark secured sponsorship from FACTOR, a private non-profit organization dedicated to providing assistance toward the growth and development of the Canadian music industry, which will cover about a third of the event's budget.

He also gained the support of the Saltbox Brewery, which will act as an additional venue for the event.

And he's secured a roster of musicians, including the Mike Murley Trio, John Campbelljohn, Mike Cowie, Big Valley Swing Orchestra and Theresa Malenfant & The Instigators. The event will also feature various workshops.

Clark is keen to give "a big shout out" to the Mahone Bay Centre.

"They've been a strong supporter of this," he said.

More information about the festival, including ticket prices, is available at: https://wfgentertainment.weebly.com/festivals.html

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