Annual East Hawaii Jazz and Blues Festival returns this weekend

  • Courtesy photo Allison Adams Tucker is an internationally performing jazz vocalist who sings in six different languages.
  • Larry Dupio is among the entertainers for Sunday's Seventh Annual East Hawaii Jazz and Blues Festival. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)

Musicians from across the country will gather in Hilo on Sunday for one of the largest jazz festivals in the state.

The Seventh Annual East Hawaii Jazz and Blues Festival will feature 12 acts throughout Sunday afternoon in support of the Hawaii Island Veterans Memorial Inc.

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The festival regularly sees sold-out crowds, with attendees visiting from across the nation since the first festival was held nine years ago. As usual, the festival is only the first night in a weeklong series of performances around East Hawaii, culminating in Black and White Night on Nov. 1.

In addition to nonstop jazz and blues, attendees can enjoy a pupu buffet, wine and beer tasting, a no-host bar and a dessert station.

“This is a very unique event; like a fundraising banquet where that actually has great food and the music portion of the program is on steroids,” said festival organizer Steve Bader. “It’s a cross between a big happy party and an intimate festival.”

The festival is a fundraiser for the Hawaii Island Veterans Memorial Inc., which is currently focused on the construction of a 90-unit veterans housing complex near the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Bob Williams, chair emeritus of the veterans memorial, said construction should begin in late 2020.

Among the artists to be featured at the festival are:

• De Shannon Higa, an internationally performing trumpeter whose debut album was nominated for the Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Best Jazz Album this year;

• Jeannine Guillory Kane, a Big Island vocalist who will be performing with the West Hawaii All-Stars;

• Doug Mac Donald, considered to be one of LA’s top jazz guitarists and session players;

• The UH-Hilo Jazz Orchestra, making their festival debut under musical director Trever Veilleux;

• Allison Adams Tucker, an internationally performing jazz vocalist who sings in six different languages, performing with an Oahu- and California-based ensemble;

• Rob Scheps, a New York saxophonist and university jazz workshop clinician;

• Deems Tsutakawa, a Seattle-based jazz pianist and 2018 nominee for the Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Best Jazz Album in 2018, making his seventh straight appearance at the festival, joined by San Diego flautist Bradley Leighton;

• Jeff Linsky, a guitarist and ukulele master for over 30 years;

• Abe Lagrimas Jr., a multi-instrumentalist performer from Hawaii, proficient in all styles of contemporary drumming;

• Larry Dupio, an Oahu-born Vietnam veteran who won a Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Best Rock Album in 2018;

• and Elena Welch, a former Big Island vocalist with a blues and swing repertoire.

The festival will run from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo. General admission tickets cost $65 if purchased ahead of time at hawaiiislandveterans.org,or $75 at the door.

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VIP tickets, which provide early admission to the festival as well as free admission to a pre-event party on Saturday, cost $90 in advance at hawaiiislandveterans.org, or $100 at the door.

Proceeds benefit the Hawaii Island Veterans Memorial Inc.

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