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Detroit jazz fest goes virtual for 2020; Labor Day

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    Posted: 03 Jul 2020 at 6:49am
Brian McCollum Detroit Free Press
Published 6:53 PM EDT Jul 1, 2020

For the first time in four decades, there won't be a jazz festival to attend in downtown Detroit this September.

But there will still be free, live jazz music: The Detroit Jazz Festival will become a virtual event this Labor Day weekend  a four-day show that will air digitally, on television and on radio.

Yielding to the realities of the coronavirus pandemic, festival officials and Mayor Mike Duggan announced the move Wednesday. Rocket Mortgage is aboard as presenting sponsor.

The 2020 jazz fest will run Sept. 4-7 featuring mostly local talent performing live on three soundstages in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. The performance spaces will be fashioned after the festival's traditional stages, but without audiences.

The fest will stream online on the city of Detroit's Channel 22 digital station and the festival's own digital platforms, with performances also broadcast on Detroit Public Television, WDET-FM (101.9) and WRCJ-FM (90.9).

The Detroit Jazz Festival's original 2020 lineup, announced in March, included artist-in-residence Dee Dee Bridgewater, along with Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, Gregory Porter and others who would have traveled to perform. While they won't be heading to Detroit for the virtual event, fest director Chris Collins hinted they'll have some kind of role.

"I have a hunch you'll be seeing them in some form during the four-day programming," Collins said.

Performances at the RenCen will be staged under a set of intensive protocols, including onstage social distancing and regular disinfecting of gear and green rooms.

The move to a "health-conscious" virtual fest followed consultation with local, state and federal authorities, Collins said, and officials evaluated several contingency plans for an in-person event before opting for the streamed edition. 

Jazz fest officials were part of a 100-plus-person entertainment subcommittee that submitted a package of event reopening and safety recommendations to the state of Michigan in June. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hasn't yet adopted the proposals.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is holding open submissions for Detroit musical talent. Artists can apply through July 15 at detroitjazzfest.org.

The festival has also put out an open call for visual artists, one of whom will be selected to design the event's official poster ideally capturing the spirit of the music and the 2020 zeitgeist, including the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.

Proceeds from poster sales will go to the Detroit Arts Fund, established earlier this year.

There's no word yet on the status of two other prominent September festivals, including Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats in Royal Oak and the Movement techno fest, scheduled Sept. 11-13 in downtown Detroit after postponing its traditional Memorial Day spot.

from https://eu.freep.com

Edited by snobb - 03 Jul 2020 at 6:49am
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