Local musician Ernest Stuart realized his longtime dream on Saturday by hosting a full-scale jazz music festival. The first Center City Jazz Festival featured over 50 musicians in four venues and ran like a clock.
The hosting venues formed a miniature jazz corridor across Broad Street with Chris’ Jazz Café and Fergie’s Pub (Sansom Street between 15th and 16th Streets), Time Cafe (Sansom and 13th Streets), and Milkboy (Chestnut and 11th Streets). The festival kicked off with the Kory Riker Band at Milkboy, and headliner Sean Jones closed the day at Chris’ Jazz Café. The festival also included performances from Philadelphia musicians Denise King, Ernest Stuart, Chrissie Loftus, George Burton, Alex Claffy, Venissa Santi, Mike Boone, Jaleel Shaw, Luke O’Reilly, and Three Blind Mice, among others.
Stuart initially sought the help of local corporate sponsors to finance the festival. When that did not go as planned, he took a friend’s advice and started a campaign on fundraising site Kickstarter.com. He exceeded his goal of $16,500 just before time ran out — and then it began to sink in: Stuart now had a festival to build and promote. He sold advance tickets to help fund the festival. In that way, the very music lovers who would eventually attend brought the Center City Jazz Festival to life.