As temperatures dip into the lower numbers and the bears come out of hibernation - or is it the other way around? - and cattle are lowing out west, and chickens have come home to roost, and the pot’s calling the kettle black, and words begin speaking louder than actions, and most people still fish for compliments to no avail most of the time... when all these things stir the pot in pre-Halloween/mid-October, that means it’s time for the Van Williamson Trio to make its annual foray to the wilds of Rehoboth Beach for the 29th Annual Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival. Luckily this year the festival falls between the Run-On Sentence Annual Competition (this writer won Honorable Mention last year) and the Cliché Contest (first place!), so there’s no chance of having to pick one over the other - festival freaks can hit all three, easy as picking off low-hanging fruit.
And so it is that the Van Williamson Trio returns to the scene of past triumphs and near-triumphs to once again foist some straight-ahead, uncompromising cocktail music on a public already salivating at the thought. The trio is busy this year, taking time off from the taco truck that is their summer home, but foisting is something they take seriously, and this year will be no exception.
Guitarist Williamson is making his 28th or so appearance at the festival, and, as he puts it: “There’s no shortage of guitar players, and I’m one of them.” He was for many years the director of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” a producer on many NPR programs, and the creator of the long-running “Radio from Downtown at the Avalon Theatre.” Many discriminating patrons of the arts will remember the live music-variety radio program fondly, or not at all. Doesn’t matter. He has played in a variety of ensembles on both coasts, including jazz bands, folk and bluegrass groups, and a classical electric guitar quartet. He has appeared in the area with the Delmarva Big Band, the Queen Anne Chorale, his own trio and as a solo performer at many venues from the beach to D.C.
Bassist Russ Rodgers, appearing this year with the trio for the first time, has been playing bass professionally for more than 30 years. He has studied with a number of prominent bassists, including John Patitucci, Jimi Haslip (Yellow Jackets) and many others. He founded the bass program at the Atlanta Institute of Music and was director of the bass program at the Atlanta Bass Gallery. Rodgers has a busy performing schedule in the D.C. area and is making his debut at the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival.
After touring for 11 years with award-winning song stylist Jane L. Powell, drummer Wes Crawford settled into the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area where he has performed and recorded with a variety of jazz and world music artists such as Shahin & Sepehr, Ron Holloway, Humayun Khan, Van Williamson, Bay Jazz Project, Eva Cassidy and many others. He teaches privately and at Goucher College, and his original educational music media may be found at musicandgames4u.com. Crawford has artist relationships with Dream Cymbals, Baltimore Drum Company, Vic Firth and ProLogix Percussion.
Van Williamson Trio jazz fest schedule:
• Thursday, Oct. 11 - 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. - Cape Henlopen High School, Lewes
• Friday, Oct. 12 - 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Van Williamson on solo guitar at Back Porch Café, 59 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach
• Friday, Oct. 12 - 6 to 9 p.m. - Mariachi Restaurant, 14 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach
• Saturday, Oct. 13 - noon to 1:30 p.m., Outlet Liquors, 19724 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach
• Saturday, Oct 13 - 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., Dos Locos Stonegrill & Tex-Mex Restaurant, 208 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach
• Saturday, Oct. 13 - 6 to 9 p.m. - Vineyard Wine Bar & Bistro, 28 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach
• Sunday, Oct. 14 - 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Back Porch Cafe, 59 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach
• Sunday, Oct. 14 - 5 to 8 p.m., Azzurro Italian Oven & Bar, 210 2nd St., Rehoboth Beach.