‘Jazz lives…,’ is the theme of the 2017 Chestertown Jazz festival.  The creators were searching for a theme that was broad enough to include new, young jazz musicians including those from the Kent County Schools. Specifically, the jazz band at The Chestertown Middle School directed by Leo Frison has enjoyed increasing recognition and has participated in Master’s Classes with several prior festival performers. Plans are being made for a Friday workshop with ‘Capital Focus’ which is a youthful jazz band comprised of multiple combos from Northern Virginia and directed by the local jazz performer and educator, Dave Robinson.  We are hoping that several of the amateurs from the middle school will be able to sit in with the group on Saturday.

The Chestetown Jazz Festival Weekend or ‘Jazz lives …in Kent County’ will be held from Thursday, September 7 through Sunday, September 10. The kickoff event will again take place at ‘The Mainstay’ in Rock Hall, MD.  Jazz lovers of all ages will love and appreciate the talents of Katie Thiroux whom Rory Trainor selected before his departure back to Milwaukee. The former Executive Director and Mel Rapelyea agree that her acoustic bass talents and jazz vocals would be a fabulous opening.

Later Friday evening at the Garfield Center for the Arts, ‘Hannah Gill and The Hours’ will perform as part of the Root Series. This beautiful young lady grew up in Easton, Maryland and repeatedly won singing contests at her schools. Her father shared her videos. He wound up taking her to NYC; they shopped at FAO Schwartz and then went to the studio of guitarist and producer Brad Hammond…the rest is history. She is a powerhouse who “belts out badass blues songs to Brad’s creative chords, “says Rapelyea.  ‘She will without a doubt provide a huge plus and a lot of fun to the weekend. She shouldn’t be missed.”

The ‘Capital Focus Jazz Band’ formerly known as the Focus Jazz Band, is the Youth Learning program of the Potomac River Jazz Club since 1988. This has become a nationally acclaimed program promising young musicians a grounding in the fundamentals of jazz. (

Following Capital Focus, a newcomer to Chestertown and a new Professor in the Music Department at Washington College, John Thomas, saxophonist will play again with his quartet.

The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet is from Northern Virginia and has performed in two previous Chestertown Jazz Festivals. These four vocal stars comprised of two women and two men, know and share all of the great standards we love. If you’re familiar with the harmony of ‘The Manhattan Transfer,’ you’ll love what ‘The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet’ does with music.

The ‘Jazz Academy of Music,’ directed by the famed Paul Carr will send one of their premier combos from Takoma Park to perform. These fortunate and very talented children take classes and workshops and learn to perform in small combos. They will spend much of the summer developing improvisational skill and taking masters classes. For a preview of these talents visit

Our headliner, Joey DeFrancesco originally from Philadelphia played at our festival in 2005. Joey is an internationally renowned organist, a trumpeter and a vocalist and he freely uses all in his performances and recorded music.  “..his music embodies the traditional art form infused with a distinct modern approach.” ‘He has dominated the [organ] as no one of his generation has.”-Chicago Tribune. Joey’s touring band is billed ‘Joey DeFrancesco + The People.” “Can’t wait to experience this again”, says Mel Rapelyea.

The weekend will culminate at the Crow Vineyard on Sunday for the ‘Third Annual Crowfest.’ Music will again be provided by ‘Phil Dutton and The Alligators.’ The event starts @ 11:00AM and goes to 5PM. Adult admission is $12. Children under 5 are free.

Tickets for the kickoff featuring Katie Thiroux at The Minstay can be obtained by calling The Mainstay @ 410-639-9133. Tickets for Hannah Gill at the Garfield Center and the Saturday festival in the park can be purchased online at or by calling 410-810-2060. Advance ticket prices for  Hannah Gill and the festival are $25 each.  Students with an ID pay $15 and children under 12 are free. Don’t forget to look up the Jazz Festival on Facebook and Twitter. Bring chairs to the festival and umbrellas to both events as they are rain or shine. No pets are allowed at either event.


Organizers remind you to bring chairs and umbrellas as it’s a rain or shine event.  Please leave your pets at home.