The Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival returns for its 22nd anniversary

The Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival, located in Gahanna’s Creekside district, is back this weekend for its 22nd anniversary. Credit: Courtesy of Visit Gahanna

Gahanna’s Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival returns today for its 22nd anniversary after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Located in the Creekside district, the soulful event will take place Friday through Sunday, kicking off Friday at 5pm. The festival features a host of local and regional jazz and blues musicians, food vendors, artisan vendors and even kayak in Big Walnut Creek. This year, more than thirty local and regional blues and jazz musicians will perform on one of the three stages.

“We love to showcase local and regional artists and really bring attention to the blues and jazz that is ubiquitous in the region and the music industry,” said Madison Ashby, head of marketing and communications at Visit Gahanna.

Since its inception in 1999, the festival has continued to bring together musicians, vendors and members of the public to celebrate blues and jazz music and culture. According to the festival website, it started as a half-day occasion, but has since grown into a much-anticipated annual event spanning three days.

Fans of the Creekside Blues and the Jazz Festival may have noticed a date change for this year’s festival. Ashby said the festival usually takes place during the third weekend in June, but has been pushed back this year to ensure sufficient COVID-19 protocols are in place, allowing guests to participate in the festival safely. . The extra three months also allowed people to get the vaccine.

“People are definitely ready to go out and relive live music again,” Ashby said.

She said the festival will include a number of vendors in order to increase space and allow for more social distancing. There will also be a number of disinfection stations throughout the site. Masks are strongly encouraged, and no proof of vaccination is required for entry.

Will Freed, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the Will Freed Band, said he was delighted to be back on stage for another performance at the Blues & Jazz Festival. He said he grew up watching his father perform for musicians such as David Allen Coe, Johnny Paycheck and The American Eagle Band and that he never dreamed of being more than a musician.

“You just have to imagine me as a 17 year old kid diving headfirst into the blues,” Freed said. “I have never looked back.”

Freed said when he entered the music scene he performed shows almost every night, not taking a vacation for over a decade. Now he said he’s back to live the weekend and perform original songs at the festival for his eighth year.

While performing at the festival is his bread and butter, Freed said he also looks forward to festival food, available from vendors including Island Noodles, Pizza Cottage, Local Cantina and Cold Stone Creamery.

“I never tasted anything at the festival that was not of high quality,” Freed said. “I play 25 festivals a year, and that’s not always the case. The public and the vendors are always super nice. It really is something that you can plan for and still feel comfortable and secure.

After missing out on a year of festivities, Ashby said guests can look forward to relaxing and having fun this weekend.

“People can definitely count on great music, great people, great food from our vendors and restaurants, and a great time overall,” she said.

More details on tickets, performing artists and food vendors can be found on the Creekside Blues & Jazz website. More information about the Will Freed Band can be found on their website, and they will perform live at the festival on the Electric Blues stage on Saturday at 2:15 p.m.

Willie J. Johnson