Music may be an answer: Rehoboth Jazz Fest sparkles

November 13, 2018

Several weeks ago, we experienced for the umpteenth time our annual jazz festival, billed and copyrighted as the “Greatest Jazz Festival in the World.”

During those four days, a calm and beauty befalls the area which is quite unique.  First and foremost, and of considerable note, is the fact that we become a much more integrated and multiethnic community than is our usual atmosphere and vision. 

In addition, we seem to relate in a much friendlier way to one another, or is it that our visiting music lovers are warmer toward us, even warmer than we may be to one another? So what is this wonderful phenomenon which pervades Lewes/Rehoboth/Dewey during these days? 

I suspect that it is a combination of the interaction of our temporary neighbors with one another and the contagion it brings to those of us who are here daily taking our lives for granted.  For some reason the internal prejudices often expressed with suspicious glances, looks, and stares from some are transformed into approving smiles, nods and even actual verbal greetings. So what causes this temporary euphoria on the peninsula? It appears that music, or at least the aura of music, may be the welcome culprit.

Certainly the percentage of locals enthralled with jazz and jazz musicians may not be overwhelming, but those who are fans are just enough to make our Rehoboth rebound with positive vibrations, and not just from the actual concert venues. 

There is then a seeming magic which permeates Route 1, and we move about from Epworth to the high school to the Rusty Rudder to the Bandstand to local restaurants, and our new convention center. 

We are somehow, or at best most of us, filled with hope and joy that everything will be fine, not only during the jazz festival but well beyond the event, even as far perhaps as to next October. 

It seems, unfortunately, that the feeling wanes as we move further from the events and the performing musicians.  Searching for reasons for first the positive injection of caring and kindness, to the decreasing effect of the musical flu shot is both evasive and challenging.  Allow me to dare propose that the cause of our joyous moments may be the infusion of jazz-loving adults from across the bay and the bridge into beautiful downtown Lewes, Rehoboth and Dewey. 

This immigration, temporary as it is, coupled with the welcoming attitude of us locals, produces such a special effect upon all involved in the experience that we long with anticipation for next year, and hope with optimism for the sustenance of the feeling for the present year which we so sorely need.

With great respect for Sea Witch, which brings with it its own form of vibe for the children, the Rehoboth Jazz Festival appears to directly affect adults in such a positive way that it bears a few words of mention, not just of course for the music, but for its effect on our community. 

Actually, we realize that many of the artists appear here annually, so there is something beyond these all-stars of jazz which fills the ocean and the bay with those unique breezes which unite visitors and residents alike in a sense of significant togetherness worthy of praise and commendation.

Indeed, we are caught up with the trials and tribulations, joys and elations of our daily lives, but once a year we are able, if we are observant and lucky, to join our neighbors from the north and west and even next door in the appreciation and enjoyment of music, and its effect and aftermath.

Would that we could bottle or can this phenomenon forever, or at least for a month or three! Or perhaps we have, at least here in Sussex; let’s hope so.  With warmest wishes for a very happy and peaceful and musical Thanksgiving, as we enjoy that remaining wave from the Greatest Jazz Festival in the World.

Peter E. Carter is a retired public school administrator residing in Lewes, Delaware.


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