Excitement building as full slate of jazz returns to Cape Region

Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, True Blue Jazz Fest kick off Oct. 14
September 23, 2021

Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival and True Blue Jazz Festival officials recently said excitement is high this year because there’s a whole weekend of fun and music slated to begin Thursday, Oct. 14.

After being forced to scale down last year because of COVID, it’s back to normal, or as back to normal as can be allowed, said Denny Santangini, president of Delaware Celebration of Jazz, the nonprofit that puts on the annual Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival. It’s hard to find hotel rooms, and most of the shows have sold out, he said.

“People can’t wait. They’re so excited,” said Santangini, adding he had spoken recently with a friend who helps organize another jazz festival on the East Coast. “He said it was like a big reunion.”

Peggy Raley and Eddie Sherman, founders and producers of True Blue Jazz Festival, said they’ve heard similar reactions.

“People have a hunger for music and live entertainment,” said Raley.

Fred Dawson has been named 2021 Producer of the Year for the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, said Santangini. Dawson has been a longtime festival supporter and one of its favorite entertainers throughout the years with his rock band Club Phred, he said. Dawson’s band will provide a free show at 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach.

True Blue Jazz Festival technically begins its music celebration as it always does with Youth Jazz Appreciation Night, held the evening before the professionals open. That show begins at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, at Bethany Blues, 18385 Coastal Highway, Lewes.

The mission of True Blue Jazz is keeping jazz music alive through young musicians, said Raley. There will be bands from Sussex Academy, Cape Henlopen High School and Dover, she said.

Youth night is a regular, but new this year for True Blue is an expansion into Lewes, with shows at Lefty’s Alley & Eats, Nassau Valley Vineyards, and Bramble & Brine at the Buttery.

For the past eight years, the focus has been on providing a community jazz festival, and now there’s an opportunity to make that community bigger, said Sherman. There are 40 ticketed and free events in a dozen different venues, he said.

Both festivals’ organizers recognize the ongoing COVID unknowns, and both said they will follow appropriate protocols. For Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, Santangini said that means masks at shows in the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center, Cape Henlopen High School and Epworth United Methodist Church. For True Blue Jazz Festival, Raley said it’s been a thoughtful process that includes multiple outdoor venues.

Santangini said ticket holders from 2020 can still use their tickets this year. He explained that whatever day or days a person had tickets for in 2020 – Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday – those tickets are good for this year on that day. For example, if a show was on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, it is now on Thursday, Oct. 14, he said.

For more information and a full schedule of Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival shows, go to

For more information and a full schedule of True Blue Jazz Festival performances, go to

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