This year, the upcoming South Coast Jazz Music Festival will be celebrating ten years of entertainment with a three-day festival running from Friday, August 11 to Sunday, August 13, 2023.
The festival first got its start ten years ago and has been growing rapidly ever since.
“The South Coast Jazz Festival started in Norfolk County between a couple of wineries and by the second year we were in an arena and sold out with Holly Cole,” said Juliann Kuchocki, Founding Director and Producer of the South Coast Jazz Music Festival. “It then became sort of a yearly event peppered through different venues in Norfolk County.”
Kuchocki said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival didn’t just survive – it progressed.
“In 2020 all of these facilities were empty and available during the pandemic, so we decided to evolve the event into an online TV-style festival,” she said. “We ended up getting a bunch of exposure and actually got recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top international festivals to watch.”
With the Canada Council for the Arts awarding the festival a grant from the Digital Now initiative in 2021, the online venture continued.
“We were able to keep this going because there was a lot of support from the Canadian government – thankfully – for this type of online venture,” said Kuchocki. “So, now we’re not only a music festival with a cultural experience that people can enjoy in person, but all over the place including online, TV, and Video on Demand. We even has full ASL version as well.”
While typically based in Norfolk County, Brantford residents will now be able to enjoy the show closer to home as the event expands into the city’s Sanderson Centre for Performing Arts.
“This year we’re in Brantford and Norfolk County and we’re celebrating in two separate communities which just strengthens the economic development and the tourism for everybody across the board,” she said. “We’re all connected, and we’re all marketing the same area, we’re all part of the same community because we’re neighbours.”
The festival will kick off on Friday at the Port Dover Community Centre before making the move to the Sanderson Centre on Saturday and finishing the weekend off in Harmony Square on Sunday.
Audience members will be taken on a journey through ten decades of music with acts spanning from the 1930’s to present day with a variety of stand-out acts.
“We have ten decades of music and we’re celebrating all kinds of genres right from the local level, right into international, Juno, Grammy, Order of Canada and Walk of Fame artists,” said Kuchocki. “Overall, there’ll be music, tap dancing, art and more, really theirs is something for everyone to enjoy.”
Friday’s show in Norfolk County will showcase a local stage with acts like Route 6, The Feds and more.
On Saturday, the line-up will feature 12-time platinum selling artist Mark Holmes of Platinum Blonde, two-time Juno nominated Mark Kelso and the Jazz Exiles, as well as award winning, internationally acclaimed songwriter Charu Suri. Local artists like Port Ryersee Singers, Carla Muller, David Griffin and Thom Adkins will also present.
“Moving into Sunday we have Alex Pangman – she’s Canada’s sweetheart of swing and a Juno nominee – and she’ll be singing us through the 20’s and the 30’s,” said Kuchocki. “We’ve also got some French and English going on with Juliet Dunn and Le Trio Parisiean, so they will cover some of the next decades after that and we also have Gail Obediah coming out too.”
Sunday will also feature children’s art in collaboration with Glenhryst Art Gallery.
“One of our partners this year is Glenhyrst Art Gallery and because we have a Jazz and Juniors program, we partnered with Glenhyrst and their summer art program,” she said. “We had Rebecca McGill, who’s a music therapist and she came in, and we did some singing, they did some art and they created their own songs and that will all be showcased in Harmony Square on Sunday.”
Doors will open on Friday and Saturday at 5:00 p.m. with seating first come, first serve. Sunday’s free event begins at 1:00 p.m. and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
Kuchocki says that watching the festival grow over the years has been incredibly special for her and her team that she couldn’t have done it with so much support from the government and the community.
“I had a vision 10 years ago to bring jazz right into our community instead of having to go to Hamilton or Toronto to get this level of entertainment. I was living in Norfolk County for a few years before I understood that there were a bunch of wineries and breweries in the area because they weren’t widely known,” she said. “Since then, the festival has single handedly advertised Norfolk County and the wineries to a very high level – internationally – for ten years now. You can actually see the development that’s happening in Norfolk County these days. There’s jazz bands that are starting, there’s jazz music, there’s jazz artists that are being brought in, and I would say we were the catalyst at the forefront of all of that and I’m very proud. If you’re looking for something different to do, open your heart and come and enjoy some culturally rich music and arts.”