By Wanda F. Camm and Annette John
Special to the New Journal and Guide
For the thousands of music lovers who flock to Hampton, Virginia each June to attend the Jazz Festival, this year’s loyalists were not disappointed. The weekend long event is more than a series of concerts, it’s an event. It’s a place where old friends meet and greet, people-watch, eat, drink and party.
The Friday night line-up included Jonathan Butler, Stephanie Mills, Trombone Shorty and headliner, Anthony Hamilton.
Saturday night’s performers were The Chuck Brown Band, Avery Sunshine, Chris Botti and Charlie Wilson.
When the Chuck Brown Experience hit the stage, they did what fans expected them to do—burn up the stage with Go-Go! They had the people on their feet during their entire performance. Chuck Brown would be proud because they represented his legacy well.
Avery Sunshine was fabulous; outfit, red lipstick and all! Her dynamite presence and her melodic voice had the crowd excited about her performance. She played the keyboard and was amazing. She always talks about how much she loves her man. He is the guitar player in her band. They played off of each other on stage. It was so much fun to watch. Go Avery!!
What can be said about Christ Botti? He played that trumpet!! He and his band sounded crisp and on point. Just what you would expect from the “whitest trumpet player in the world,” as he wanted to be introduced. Well, we disagree! That man has got soul!! He’s added a violinist to the show whose playing was incredible and so heartfelt. Botti also introduced a fantastic singer from the Washington, DC area who was amazing. His fans—and that includes us—will be talking about this performance for a while. He will definitely be added to many playlists.
But then came along Charlie Wilson better known as Uncle Charlie who was the headliner. He is absolutely timeless. His voice is still strong even though he’s 70 years old. We’re not sure what he does to stay young. But it’s working. Uncle Charlie sounds amazing. His show had incredible energy. He really brought the party and the festival goers loved it.
More Jazz Favorites on Sunday
The Sunday concert featured, Peter White, Kenny G, Babyface and Fantasia.
Peter White and his acoustic guitar had the coliseum crowd swaying their bodies and tapping their feet to the 70’s song by the Spinners, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love.” He even donned shades and played some Bob Marley reggae. (Can you believe it?) Yes, he had us all smiling. He is super talented and was enjoyed immensely by festival attendees.
With just his very presence, Kenny G graced the audience and allowed surprised guests to take pictures before his show. When his set began, he was spotlighted on the floor in the middle of the audience. We were able to enjoy his playing up close and personal. As always, his performance was, well, very powerful. He gave the attendees the awesome sound of smooth jazz, with his amazing soprano sax. Kenny informed us that he’s been playing that same instrument since high school. (Can you believe that?) Go, Kenny!
Babyface never disappoints. He dazzled the crowd with his energy, and had us all on the floor jamming. Not only did he sing many of the songs that he recorded; he also sang songs that he wrote for other artists. He gave us his all and it was evident that people had a great time.
The electric Fantasia was full of soulful energy from the beginning of her set until the end. She danced all around the stage and sang her heart out. Fantasia let the people know they better get up and dance. In her words “I didn’t come here to sing to dead people so you better get up.” She made it hard for the crowd to sit down. She is a wonderfully talented performer with a beautiful voice.
All in all, Hampton, Virginia was a great place to spend the weekend at the 53rd Annual Hampton Jazz Festival.