"Come see me do my thing on the drums." (Courtesy of DC Jazzfest)
"Come see me do my thing on the drums." (Courtesy of DC Jazzfest)

After one year of canceled events and a second which only allowed for limited performances and discussions, the DC Jazz Festival is back, live and in person, albeit with a few changes — positive ones, this writer may add — to the format, scheduling and focus.

For the record and following a delightful chat with Sunny Sumter, president and CEO of DC Jazz Festival, it became clear that this year’s Festival will be unlike any other. 

Of course, an observant reader might wonder what will distinguish the 2022 Festival from others in years past that have been so entertaining, so informative – simply said, so much “fun.”

As Sumter shared, perhaps the biggest change remains the decision to permanently move DC Jazz Festival from the days surrounding Father’s Day to the Labor Day Weekend – a move that she wholeheartedly supports. 

“The pandemic has affected everyone and we were faced with new challenges just like the rest of America,” Sumter said. “Last year we offered a limited schedule over the Labor Day weekend and recorded crowds in excess of 38,000 people. We listened to our patrons and to organizations like Destination DC as well as the District’s administration. They suggested that we move the Festival to Labor Day permanently. And while we loved being part of the celebration of fathers, now the District and other leading sponsors promote the Festival as a premier fall event. It’s similar to promotional efforts for the National Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring or the summer’s annual Folklife Festival.”

“As part of our efforts to improve the Festival, we now have a five-day schedule, rather than the 10-day schedule we once offered and with events that will take place both indoors and on outdoor stages at venues across the District and at The Wharf.”

One could not help but hear the excitement in Sumter’s voice. In fact, as this writer spoke with her, it was impossible to ignore a phrase meandering in my memory bank which Blacks routinely heard back in the 70s as a means of describing an upcoming event. As Don Cornelius used to say during his days of hosting “Soul Train,” “you can bet ya last money, it’s gonna be a stone gas, honey.”  

His iconic phrase, in essence, summarizes what’s in store for those who attend any of the events sponsored this year by the DC Jazz Festival. 

And, as Sumter emphasized, the lineup and offerings, whether they’re musical performances, competitive events between young, hopeful bands, improvisational jazz-focused interactions between old school singers and musicians, or one-on-one interviews, will be diverse. 

Even more and perhaps of greater note, in reviewing the lineup, Sumter pointed to entertainers slated to perform who will come from as close as Southeast and from as far away as Taiwan and South America. 

The Washington Informer will be on hand, moving and grooving and providing photographs, written analysis while interacting across all social media outlets. 

But don’t wait for us to find out what you missed. Get your tickets now for the 2022 DC Jazz Festival.

Indeed, it’s gonna be a stone gas, honey!

For more information, visit www.dcjazzfest.org

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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