The Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival turns 30 this year, and with a lineup Oct. 17-20 featuring world-famous musicians and venues nearly sold out, festival President Denny Santangini said things are going great. “Getting butts in the seats with great musicians is what it’s all about,” said Santangini.
This year features 32 artists in venues across the Cape Region – from the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach to Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes. “There’s an excitement, an electricity in the air the weekend of the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival,” said Santangini.
Over the years, the festival has grown from local restaurants with local artists to selling out the area’s largest venue with world-renowned talent, said Santangini. It’s been a happy marriage. “Rehoboth is known for being a friendly place. The artists love it here,” he said. “It’s really become a feather in their cap to play the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival. It’s one of the largest, most well-known jazz festivals in the country.”
Santangini is quick to note he’s not one of the festival organizers, but this is the 24th year he’s been associated with it. He got involved after his wife’s death from lung cancer. She always liked the festival, he said, and he thought it was a good way to give back to the community.
“We both thought it was a great thing in the off-season,” he said, admitting he doesn’t play any instruments, but he grew up with opera and classical music always playing in the background. “I never would have thought I’d still be here.”
The Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival is not just about the music. Santangini said the festival uses its drawing power to support charities. There’s the American Lung Association Lung Force Walk on the Boardwalk in Rehoboth. There’s also the gospel brunch at the Rusty Rudder benefiting Delaware Hospice. Both of these events are taking place Sunday, Oct. 20.
Santangini said festival organizers are already looking to the 2020 lineup, and he said he expects tickets for those shows to be available by the time this year’s festival takes place. “We’re working on it as we speak,” he said.
The 30th annual Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival takes place Thursday, Oct. 17 to Sunday, Oct. 20. For more information, go to www.rehobothjazz.com.