This summer, SmoothViews returned to the Potomac Jazz and Seafood Festival in the waterside community of Colton’s Point, MD. This is an outdoor event, and the weather had been unstable for most of the week. In the event of severe weather, this event would not be rescheduled, so we kept a weather eye to the sky all week; even as we drove to Colton’s Point.
Not to be undone by the dark storm clouds that hung overhead, the show went on as scheduled. Thankfully, the cloud cover kept the temperatures comfortable. They did not soar into the triple digits as they had done the week before. What’s a little rain and thunder when there’s good music to be heard? This is summer in the Mid-Atlantic States, so welcome to it.
This festival is gaining in popularity. How can you beat hearing great music in a lovely, relaxed water side setting? This event is limited to 800 tickets, which, according to concert organizer Kim Cullins, were sold out in a week.
The festival opened with an old school R&B singing group called Elements of Surprise. They were billed as the festival pre-opening act. There were some problems with the recorded tracks they sang to, which led to uneven performances. We thought their harmonies were much better a cappella, but, personally, we could have done without the old school R&B songs altogether. We came to hear smooth jazz music, not 20, 30, and 40 year old R&B songs. There is a place for that, but not at a jazz festival, (and certainly not on smooth jazz radio.)
Marcus Anderson officially opened the festival. He performed an hour and a half set, but half of that was devoted to cover tunes, including performing some Michael Jackson tunes, complete with the sequined glove and the moon walk. Really? That was a little too much shtick for our tastes. When he played his original sax and flute music, he was very good. We wanted to hear more of that.
The best show of the day was the middle act, Marc Antoine and Brian Simpson. They each performed some of their many hits, including Brians’ “South Beach,” and “It’s All Good,” and Marc’s “Jazzenco.” You could tell that both musicians were having a good time, and the crowd loved it. By the time Marc closed the show with “Sunland,” the stage front area was alive with people dancing to the music. The crowd did not want their set to end. They could have kept playing all night.
Saxophonist Steve Cole closed this year’s festival. Most people don’t know Steve Cole’s music outside of his work with Brian Culbertson, or with the Sax Pack, but he’s got six CD’s of his own music out there. We are definitely Steve Cole fans; he’s talented, he’s funny, and he can blow, so when we heard that Steve has a solo show scheduled somewhere nearby, we try not to miss an opportunity to see him. Some of the songs in his set included “Thursday,” “Curtis,” “Just a Natural Thing,” “Undun,” and “Everyday.” We’ve seen Steve Cole do his own shows and just blow everybody away with his performances, but there was some type of disconnect going on here. He wasn’t connecting with the audience, or the audience wasn’t getting Steve Cole; we’re not sure which. Or maybe it was just an off day. When you perform as much as these guys do, they’re entitled to have an off day once in awhile, but it was a little disturbing to us, and I’m sure to Steve Cole that folks were packing up their chairs during the first half of his set.
Before we conclude, we’d like to give a special shout-out to the band: Tim George on bass, Robert “WaWa” LaGrand on guitar, Bill Heller on keys, and Third Richardson on drums. They expertly held it down for all three of the announced musical acts. Nice work guys.
We enjoyed this year’s Potomac Jazz and Seafood festival, and we’ll eagerly anticipate next year’s line-up. Mark your calendars for July 13, 2013. We’ll see you there.