The City of Festivals is adding a new, multi-day party this summer. The organizers of Fresh Coast Jazz Festival hope it will not only be the first, but an annual event, when they kick things off Labor Day weekend.
The three-day event, largely at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, is the brainchild of Carl and Nicole Brown. “My wife and I have traveled to jazz festivals all over the country,” Carl said. “One of the things that's happened every time is that we run into people from Milwaukee. We know there are jazz fans in Milwaukee that are going elsewhere to get this, right? So to be able to bring it back home is going to be really important.”
Carl is recently retired and has since taken on the role of CEO for Milwaukee Jazz Festivals. He’s excited about the world-class artists they’ve been able to attract in this first year, some of whom have local ties.
“When we started to put on this festival, we started to look for local talent,” Carl said. “I was just floored at the quality of talent. We've got people who've played all over the world who grew up right here in Milwaukee, and we're excited to be bringing some of them back.”
And those artists are excited to come back for this. “Absolutely. I think anyone who knows or follows my music knows how hard I rep Milwaukee,” boasted Nelson Devereaux. The Wauwatosa East graduate and touring artist is playing Pridefest in Milwaukee before returning for the jazz festival. “I'm proud to be from here. It's just such a cool city with a great vibe.”
In addition to his solo work, Devereaux has toured the world with Wisconsin’s own Bon Iver. He hopes people come out to support the festival in Milwaukee, even if they don’t think jazz is their thing. “It's a musical genre made of magic. I would say go and check it out, because there's definitely something you're going to like about that.”
“I'm proud to be from here. It's just such a cool city with a great vibe.” — jazz musician Nelson Devereaux, a Wauwatosa East graduate
Organizers are planning a charitable component, with proceeds benefiting scholarships and arts programs in local schools. The festival also includes events at the soon-to-open Saint Kate Arts Hotel, formerly the Intercontinental. There are also plans for a jazz cruise with Edelweiss.