Jazz ‘n Blues Stroll at Leu Gardens

15 Oct

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The beautiful October weather made for a great night at the Jazz  ‘n Blues Stroll at Harry P. Leu Gardens.

Three different bands were spread across the beautiful grounds. My family and I joined hundreds of other music lovers carrying folding chairs, picnic dinners, blankets and drinks.  We staked a  spot under the hanging moss of giant old oaks, enjoying Subway sandwiches and the live music of Dr. Otto Gomez and his quartet. We joined his audience because my mother knew of him through a friend from work.

After a couple of songs, my sister and her boyfriend went to check out the other acts. While they were gone, Dr. Otto and his trumpet walked, chatted and his played his way through the audience, thanks to his wireless mic. He came and played right in front of us.

When Anna and Zach returned, my mom and I took a stroll. Saxophonist Thom Chambers played under a gazebo while Blues group Shaun Rounds (only act with vocals) played in front of the large clock made on the side of a hill. The paths between acts were lined with simple luminaries, but we still got a little lost along the way in the dark. I’d never been to the gardens, but after tonight I hope to come back sometime in the daylight to enjoy their true beauty.

In the beginning of the night, I heard lots of covers of common smooth jazz songs or jazzy versions of pop songs. I’m more of a big-band/swing style jazz fan, so I was a little dissapointed, but the music was still good. After Dr. Otto’s break, he and his group came playing music I enjoyed more. Unfortunately, the people around us were getting pretty tipsy and thus pretty loud, especially one man (who could be an understudy for the “Sassy Gay Friend” videos) right behind us. My mom couldn’t hear the music anymore and Anna and Zach were getting restless, so we headed out.

My advice to those planning to attend the next fall or spring Jazz ‘n Blues stroll:

  • Buy the tickets in advance to save $4.
  • Get there early. Doors open at 6 p.m. (an hour before the event) and there was already quite a line.
  • Pack light. If you have a beach chair with a built in pouch, just throw in a thermos and a baguette or pastry. That way you can actually stroll instead of feeling obligated to stay at your spot in front of one performer.
  • Don’t feel as if you have to pick a spot directly in front of a performer.  I saw lots of people who were off to the side or in more secluded locations in the garden. They could still hear the music and sometimes even had a better view of the performers. There seemed to be fewer buzzed chatters, but potentially more smokers.
  • Bring bug spray!

It was nice just to relax and enjoy some local live music. I definitely recommend everyone attend at least one. If jazz and blues aren’t your thing, Leu Gardens also offers date night events where they project a movie on an inflatable screen.

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