(Last Updated 3/1/2018) The Sacramento Music Festival, previously known as the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, was held for 44 years over the Memorial Day weekend in Sacramento.
Unfortunately, as noted in the Sacramento Bee on December 19, 2017, “After 44 years, the final note has been played for the Sacramento Music Festival.”
The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society announced the cancellation of the annual event on a Facebook post ending years of speculation about its economic viability amid falling turnout.
On February 27, 2018, the Sacramento Bee reported that the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society, the organizer of the Sacramento Music Festival, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A sad end to what had been a 44-year Sacramento Memorial Day tradition.
Friends from the Bay Area and I have made the Sacramento Music Festival an annual event for many years. We spend a full day and evening in Old Sacramento enjoying the music and people watching. We take a break to relax over a nice dinner before we venture out again to spend the evening. Our restaurant of choice is Rio City Cafe, both because of its location in Old Sacramento and its good food.
See related post: Rio City Cafe – Sacramento Restaurants (part of an occasional series)
This year I purchased our one-day passes for $35 through the Sacramento News and Review “SweetDeals”. That was a savings of $20 per person as this year the adult admission for one day passes on either Saturday or Sunday increased from $50 to $55!
SacramentoRevealed.com – All Things Sacramento (from a personal perspective)
The size of the event and the crowds have diminished from its heyday in the mid-1980’s when the attendance peaked at 85,000+. Back then bands from all over the world performed and music venues included Cal Expo, downtown Sacramento, and Old Sacramento. The music venues are now concentrated in Old Sacramento – which works for me. If a particular band does not strike our fancy we just stroll to another close by venue.
Since the name change in 2010, the Sacramento Music Festival has sought to expand their music offerings. Types of music include tribute bands, soulful blues, rockin’ blues, swing and Western swing, Cajun and zydeco, country, rockabilly, bluegrass, Latin, mainstream jazz, ragtime, big bands/orchestras, marching bands, youth bands, etc. In other words, there is something for everyone.
Our first stop this year as we approached Old Sacramento was Freeway Gardens – a venue located underneath the freeway. Zydeco Flames, a Louisiana-style Zydeco band, had the crowd dancing. It is strange thinking about the cars and trucks whizzing by overhead – but the acoustics are actually pretty good.
During the course of the day and evening we saw quite a few bands – some new and others that we had enjoyed previously at the event.
Late that day we saw Banu Gibson and Friends at the Firehouse Courtyard – a beautiful venue at night with lights encircling the trees and vines climbing the brick walls.
There were 15+ venues and 70 bands at this year’s Sacramento Music Festival. My friends and I agreed that this year’s Festival was particularly good. The weather was perfect – not too hot and the evening was very comfortable. Over the years we have experienced every type of weather over the Memorial Day weekend – from triple-digit heat to cold and windy with rain.
As is our custom, the next day we returned to Old Sacramento to spend several hours enjoying the “free” music and to have lunch on the Delta King. There is no charge for Next Generation (youth band) performances. Various venues throughout Old Sacramento host youth band stages, including on the dock right next to the Delta King.
(UPDATED 6/4/17) According to the Sacramento Bee, a Sacramento Music Festival spokesperson pegged the number of attendees at the 2017 Sacramento Music Festival at 20,650. The Sacramento Bee article also speculated that part of the reason the Sacramento Music Festival is struggling could be the growing number of quality music festivals throughout California.
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