Cool Breeze Art & Smooth Jazz Festival returns to Railroad Square

band playing music
Local musicians perform the Cool Breeze Art & Smooth Jazz Festival.

By Robert Jones

The 2nd Annual Cool Breeze Art & Smooth Jazz Festival was a two-day event last weekend at Railroad Square that highlighted some of the best local talent while also shedding light on a legendary local artist.

That artist is Mary Proctor who’s artwork is on display in folk art galleries and museums across the United States. She also had a vendor booth at the festival that had her original art pieces on sale and displayed each day of the festival.

All proceeds generated from the festival go directly to Mary’s Vision Folk Art Museum and Gallery that has a goal to socially impact North Florida through the arts.

Mary's ary
Mary Proctor displays some of her folk art.

The first night of the event featured a reception at the Hampton Inn that featured the Aaron Hayden & Friends band playing music for the opening night crowd in a small intimate setting. The band played a two-hour set of covers and original music.

The second night of the festival was the main event with the James Ward Band (JWB) traveling all the way from Kansas City, Mo., as the headliner. The opener was a local band, Operation 1254, who set the mood for a crowd of around 75 people at the Railroad Square Craft House.

There were also three community leaders that were honored during the festival: Royce Lovett, a Motown Gospel recording artist who has competed on the television show “The Voice”; Lisa Brown, the president and CEO of the Tallahassee-Leon Federal Credit Union; and Felina Martin, executive director of the Institute for NonProfit Innovation and Excellence (INIE).

Martin spoke about why receiving this honor meant so much to her. “Winning this is very impactful. Especially when there’s a visionary like Mary Proctor who someone else with a vision.”

She added, “Having someone like Proctor here and watching me receive this award is empowering.”

Pre Reid, the community engagement and membership  coordinator of the Council on Culture & Arts (COCA), noticed a slight increase in the amount of people participating in this year’s festival compared with the last year, and spoke about why COCA is important for up and coming events like the Cool Breeze Jazz Festival.

“We’re a non-profit that offers free services that help people promote any events or what people in the community are doing,” Reid said, “More community members need to take advantage of COCA’s services.”

JWB band
The James Ward Band headlines the Cool Breeze Jazz Festival.

COCA was a major sponsor and helped promote the event with hopes of bringing more awareness to the Tallahassee Arts scene as a whole.

The Cool Breeze Jazz Festival is a unique event that is the first of its kind in Tallahassee. While the first two years have shown growth, the hope is that the community will begin to adopt this festival as one of Tallahassee’s own because this event has the potential to draw in some bigger musical acts.

The two-day festival was free to the public and featured $20 VIP tickets for the Saturday event at the Craft house.

“There will be a 3rd annual Cool Breeze Jazz Festival. We will be back better and bigger next year,” said of the Jazz Festival’s Co-Chairman Jennifer Donald as she gave her final remarks to the crowd. “We thank everyone that came out and supported this festival.”

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