Somewhere over the rainbow / Way up high standards / There’s a waterfront land that I heard of / referred to as America’s Finest City once in a lullaby.
As I drove down Kettner Drive in San Diego just past historic Seaport Village, I could see the hard work and dedication hosts Willie and Kathy Payne, Oz, Kim Benoit and family put into The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival . It was everything I could possibly ask for and so much more.
I was so excited. The opening party was a room full of love, with lots of familiar faces. Everyone was impeccably dressed and they were all live music supporters. Many of our favorite friends in the industry traveled here from across the globe to gather at San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina South to support the Inaugural events of the weekend.
With San Diego’s breathtaking waterfront as a backdrop, and staged to perfection by Kim Benoit and Kimi Rochelle Porter, this first-of-its-kind festival in Jazz is what America’s Finest City has been missing In San Diego. It featured live music, entertainment, shopping, and plenty of culture.
This very low key night with Smooth Jazz “A-listers” mingling casually in the crowded room. Brian Culbertson (who just threw his Napa Valley Festival) raved about the location and presentation. This was a top-notch event with all our favorites and the best bang-for-your buck presented by The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival. I’m a proud San Diegan and I’m appreciative of my waterfront scenic surroundings complete with a touch of class.
Stager Stephanie Wiltz-Hall & Kimi Rochelle-Porter collaborated to bring this temporary wonderland to life. Our worries disappeared as we listened to great songs of our good friends in music/life.
It was an evening under the stars featuring the incredible saxophonist, Eric Darius and ‘Unplugged’ with vocalist Monty Seward. It was a terrific way to open up the ‘San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival to the excited, upscale supporters of live music.
Eric Darius cooked a chicken dinner for all of us. It was so delicious and showcased yet another talent of this remarkable musician.
I asked opener Monty Seward to comment on the weekend of Smooth Jazz San Diego style and this is what he said: “I am immeasurably proud and honored to have been apart of this incredible event executed wonderfully by Rainbow promotions Lily and Kathy Payne. As an artist it was a highlight in my career as someone who’s been involved with festivals for many years, I was in awe . Sometimes choosing music for a sophisticated audience can be sometimes difficult although everything I participated in from the VIP dinner to opening for Saturday and sharing the stage with Curtis Brooks was well-received. My wife Angela and I are truly excited and feel blessed to have been apart of this great event. I was blessed to share music from my new CD: Love Again with nearly 10k people. Thank you Willie and Kathy Payne Kim and Ozzie you are gems. Blessings to you all.”
Our host for this inaugural Rainbow Promotions event in San Diego was the supercharged, sharply dressed, Brian Culbertson. His lively antics, outgoing personality and welcoming warmth created the perfect atmosphere for the fun-filled weekend.
The second day Of the 3-day San Diego Jazz Festival featured: Brian Culbertson, Michael Franks, Peter White, Keiko Matsui & Euge Groove, Nick Colionne, The LA Collective with Adam Hawley, Greg Manning, Darryl Williams & Tony Moore.
Brian Culbertson shut it down. Amped with full energy, custom converse, Funkified kicks, dressed to leave an impression with spellbinding vamping antics. Backed up by a seething hot outpouring of Culbertson’s soulful music. From the moment this musician hit the stage his kinetic passionate energy vibrated like a lightning storm…first riling up the audience with his enthusiastic intro, then belting out some bopping lyrics, next ripping up the keys, and finally grabbing the trombone and blowing with the sax and trumpet player. “Funk” is the name of his album, “Funk” is the name of his traveling tour, and “Funk” is what Brian Culbertson emanates from head to toe –from the jaunty blonde licks hairstyle to his razzle dazzle fire engine red jacket, to his plucky dance steps.
For the last year or so Brian Culbertson has been on the road promoting his “Funk” tour but he’s been doing it the old fashioned way – covering the country in a tour bus. He told Sheryl Aronson in her exclusive Facebook Live interview that he thoroughly enjoys the close camaraderie that the band shares traveling this way. It is very apparent that Brian and his super tight group have established a formidable bond observing their stellar performance that night. As Culbertson hugged his keyboard then played it backward with complete expertise…he showed us all the many facets of a true Funk Master.
SCHEDULE AND LINE-UP: Friday’s VIP event featured Eric Darius and Unplugged with Monty Seward. Saturday’s bill included Brian Culbertson, Michael Franks, Peter White, Keiko Matsui, Euge Groove, Nick Colionne, and the L.A. Collective. The L.A. Collective featuring: Adam Hawley, Greg Manning, & Tony Moore with special guests Nathaniel Kearney Jr. & Keith McKelley.
“The L.A. Collective, a contemporary Jazz group, with high distinction as their musical persona galvanizes the stage with high powered energy and they delight in each other’s company which creates a palpable synergy. This group is comprised of four accomplished musicians: guitarist ADAM HAWLEY, drummer TONY MOORE, keyboardist GREG MANNING, and bassist DARRYL WILLIAMS.
The L.A. Collective originally came together as a backup band for different artists on the 2014 Dave Koz Cruise to Alaska. However, the band’s success catapulted them into deciding they would be a permanent fixture in the Southern California contemporary jazz music scene. There is a raw energy to their sound, which is a blend of jazz, funk, Latin and soul. The group draws directly from the diverse talents of its members and the “collective energy” they manifest on stage. Their ability to switch effortlessly from one style to another comes from a shared passion for varying styles of music, plus each musician’s proficiency on their instrument.
The group is certainly no stranger to the music scene as they have been honing their skills for well over a decade by recording and touring with some of the biggest names in the music industry. The band has a sensational live show which has performed at The Moreno Valley Jazz Festival, The Market Creek Jazz Festival and various other venues throughout California. The songs have a lovely smooth, funky groove and the chemistry onstage comes naturally. The L.A. Collective just happens. Filling in for Darryl Williams will be Nathaniel Kearney Jr. (Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson) and they will also be joined by Keith McKelley (Usher, Babyface) on Saxophone. Sunday featured Boney James, West Coast Jam with Richard Elliot/Rick Braun/Norman Brown, Gerald Albright, Jonathan Butler, Eric Darius, “Going All Out” is super appropriate. I love this melodic chart topping groove. Did you see how Eric played to the crowd? Hs brought a tear to the crowd when he serenaded Kathy’s mother for her birthday and held her hand.
The crowd favorites were Monty Seward & Curtis Brooks. On behalf of Smooth Jazz Live/Smooth Saturdays With Aysha On LA Talk Radio/The Hollywood Times/Good Times Magazine/& The Hollywood 360. We were blessed to be in the company of some of the best of the media, guests, vip guests, sponsors, artists, vendors, crew, stagers and staffers. Stephanie Wiltz Events for the delicious staging set-ups and for seeing Kimi Rochelle’s Vision of a popping escape from the day for media. Sean Jones Tammy Martin-Ryles, Malika Fatima Hassan, the producers, and everyone I’d like to thank you for such a rewarding, organized and well run ‘over the top’ weekend.
San Diego appreciates having a sensational venue for its Smooth Jazz Festival no more 12+ years in hiatus from keeping us from enjoying what we love most in San Diego Embarcadero Marina Park North is so relaxing…” added Sheryl Aronson of ‘Artin Around.’
Thanks to Sheryl Aronson of ‘Artin Around’, Rainbow Promotions, Kimberly Benoit, Oz Benoit, Essex Porter, Kathleen-Willie Payne
#SanDiego #2017& Kathy Payne/Oz & Kim Benoit and family put in to this event.