Be among the first to enjoy a new music festival on the banks of the Potomac River — and for a good cause, too. Jazz in the Country is coming to King George County, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 24.
National, international and regional artists will perform at the inaugural daylong festival. The fun takes place at Mount Bethel Retreat Center, a 55-mile drive south of Washington, D.C. The site can be reached via U.S. 301 just off the Virginia side of the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge.
This is the first event of its kind at this location and will benefit the center’s future plans for a summer youth camp.
“I’m a jazzaholic,” said Joan Waters, a festival organizer. “Who doesn’t love to look at the water and listen to good music?”
Jazz trumpeter Cindy Bradley, who has had seven No. 1 Billboard singles, will headline the festival.
She’s been named best new artist at the American Smooth Jazz Awards; brass player of the year and best new artist at the Contemporary Jazz Awards; and debut artist of the year by the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival and Smooth Jazz News.
A fixture on the jazz festival circuit, Bradley has performed everywhere from the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City, Fla., to the Dubai Jazz Fest.
Also appearing will be Chelsey Green & The Green Project, which fuses classical strings technique with popular songs in genres such as jazz, R&B, pop, soul and funk. The group has performed around the world, including shows at the Strathmore Music Center; the John F. Kennedy Center; and the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
The lineup also includes regional artists Merlon Devine, Energico Jazz and the 4 The Road Band. Comedian Sean Sarvis will keep it funny as master of ceremonies.
The gate opens at 11 a.m. and the festival runs from 1 to 8 p.m. General admission is $65 and VIP under the tent seats cost $85. For an additional $25, festivalgoers can mingle with the artists at an after-party. For tickets, visit jazzinthecountry.com.
A gathering spot
Jazz in the Country Inc. was founded as a nonprofit organization specifically to raise funds for the Mount Bethel Retreat Center, which serves the community.
The center, at 17420 Mount Bethel Lane in King George, is situated on a 75-acre waterfront site that was used historically by members of black church groups for baptisms and recreation at a time when they were unwelcome elsewhere. In 1878, the land was purchased by the Mount Bethel Baptist Association, a group of 40 churches from Virginia, Maryland and Washington.
Today, the property is rented out for retreats, workshops, weddings, church gatherings and family or class reunions. Its facilities include The Pavilion, which accommodates up to 400 people and has a commercial kitchen, and The Mansion, which has lodging space for 40 people and a multi-purpose room.
Although on church property, Jazz in the Country is not a religious event. Festival-goers should bring their own chairs. A variety of vendors will be on hand to sell food and beverages (but no alcohol) as well as artwork, clothing and jewelry.
For this first festival, a goal of 500 attendees has been set, although there’s room for more. Organizers plan this to be an annual event and are dreaming big.
“We believe we will be on the map,” said Waters.
What: Jazz in the Country
When: Aug. 24
Where: King George, Va.