First-ever Frederick Jazz Festival Launches at ‘picturesque' Carroll Creek

WASHINGTON — This month brings the 19th annual D.C. Jazz Festival, but for those who live in northern Maryland, an exciting new option is about to arrive.

The inaugural Frederick Jazz Festival makes its debut on Saturday, June 17 from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“I’ve always been a musician and I thought Frederick had a pretty good jazz scene,” co-founder John Maestri told WTOP. “Frederick in general has gone through a boom population-wise and business-wise, so that’s bringing a lot of people up from D.C. and Montgomery County into Frederick. I think the time is right for Frederick to have a jazz festival. … We’re really excited to be the first to try this.”

The event takes place at the Carroll Creek Park Amphitheater along gorgeous Carroll Creek.

“It’s very picturesque,” Maestri said. “In the summer, it’s storybook. It looks like something from a fairy tale. You walk down the creek, there’s plants, there’s ducks, there’s people on paddle boats, there’s bridges. … The city of Frederick invested millions of dollars in restoring that whole area, so it’s just a great place to spend the day. … Patrons can come in and out as they want. If they want to stay for one act then leave and walk around Downtown Frederick and come back in, they can totally do that.”

This will allow visitors to check out the myriad restaurants and shops popping up across historic Downtown Frederick, particularly along the main corridor of Patrick Street and Market Street. If you choose to stay inside the festival, there will also be food and drink options inside the gates as well.

“We’ve partnered with Linganore Wine Cellars, who’ll be providing wine for everybody,” Maestri said. “We’ve also partnered with a small business called Humble BBQ, who will be providing our food.”

Of course, the biggest reason to attend is to check out the lineup of jazz artists, including five talented acts: Trey Eley, Howard Burns, Darryl Brenzel, Marcus Mitchell and Chelsey Green.

“The lineup is eclectic and also very creative,” co-founder Kenny Darby told WTOP. “Trey Eley is a flutist of contemporary jazz, Marcus Mitchell is an amazing saxophone player and Chelsey Green is a violinist who is just superb … The lineup is amazing. You guys will enjoy different styles of jazz.”

While other genres sound best on recordings, jazz is especially suited for the live experience.

“You never hear a song played the same way twice,” Maestri said. “There’s always someone else interpreting that tune and making it their own, which is the cool thing about jazz. Improvisation is a sort of a staple of jazz music, but to be able to improvise … you need to be educated in some way. You can’t just pick up your saxophone or trumpet or whatever and just start blasting out a bunch of notes and have it sound good. So we’re also coming at the jazz festival from an educational point of view.”

Thus, the festival has partnered with the National Association of Music Merchants’ Music for All Foundation. Maestri knows from personal experience the importance of music education programs.

“Jazz was just always part of my upbringing, listening to my parents’ old records: John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis,” Maestri said. “I played the saxophone in high school, I was in jazz ensemble, all-county jazz band and I played at FCC as a high school student, which was special.”

It was during high school that he met Kenny Darby, his future co-founder of the Frederick Jazz Fest.

“Kenny moved next door in 2001 … he was into music, I was into music, and we just formed that relationship,” Maestri said. “Over the years, we kept in touch, he went off and did his management thing, mostly in D.C. but also in Los Angeles, while I did the music composition thing in [college].”

Then came the revolutionary idea to start the festival.

“I told him, ‘Look man, we need to have a jazz festival in Frederick. It’s going to be great. People are going to love it. It’s good for the city,'” Maestri said. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, totally!’ He bought it.”

Now they’re hoping the public will “buy it” as well. You can take advantage of a $40 early-bird ticket price before June 10. After that, the price rises to $50 for an all-day pass. Kids under 12 get in free.

“Forty bucks is a drop in the bucket if you’re going up to Frederick on Father’s Day weekend to spend time with friends and family,” Maestri said. “Jazz is going to be around forever. It was here long before we were born, and it’s going to be around long after we’re gone. It’s a uniquely American art form.”

Co-founders Kenny Darby and John Maestri visit WTOP to promote the inaugural Frederick Jazz Festival. (WTOP/Jason Fraley)

Click here for more info. Listen to our full chats with co-founders John Maestri and Kenny Darby below:

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