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Ancaster’s first ArtsFest is swinging into spring

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

Jazz will become Ancaster’s new sound of spring this year as the first Ancaster ArtsFest kicks off in May.

John Knechtel of the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band, who is helping to organize the event with the Ancaster Heritage Village Business Improvement Area, hopes will became an annual arts spectacle in the coming years.

The month-long ArtsFest will explode on the scene when the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band celebrates its 30th anniversary at Redeemer University May 10. Knechtel said the group will be playing an original jazz suite written by the All Star’s best known graduate David Braid especially for the occasion.

Unfortunately, Braid won’t be in attendance at Redeemer because at about the same time he will be performing in Beijing, China.

“We are really proud of what David has done and thankful for writing the music for us,” Knechtel said.

Also performing during the evening will be the Junior Stars Jazz Band and the Rising Stars Jazz Band. Tickets are $25, while seniors and students pay $20.

The ArtsFest picks up steam later on in the month when about 16 bands will play  from May 26-30 at the Old Firehall Art Centre. Knechtel  said the music from the scheduled elementary and secondary school bands will be incredible.

On May 29, Knechtel is looking forward to seeing the Plaidiators Sketch Comedy take centre stage at the Old Firehall Arts Centre. Tickets are $25 and $10 for students.

“This is new for us,” said Knechtel. “This is a group of comedians that are highly recommended.”

Ending the month on a high note are two huge events, said Knechtel. First, on May 30, people can hear the sweet grooves from Motown: Never Can Say Goodbye at Fieldcote Museum. The Junior Stars Jazz Band play at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Rising Stars Jazz Band at 7 p.m.

The next day, May 31, the always popular Jack DeKeyzer will perform after the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band.

“These are the two most popular events we have,” said Knechtel.

He urged people to buy a ticket early because both concerts will likely sell out fast.

“I do suspect both will sell out,” he said. “Jack has a huge following.”

Ticket prices will vary for both events. For the ArtsFest, said Knechtel, people can buy tickets for the May events, or they can add dinner to the shows and make it a full evening.

And since both shows will be outdoors, a tent will be set up, and some space will be cleared so people can dance or huddle underneath the covering in case of rain.

“We’ve heard people say there was no space to dance,” said Knechtel. “So we will make sure there will be space, so they can get up and dance.”

While the first ArtsFest is music heavy, Knechtel hopes to add theatre and visual arts shows to the schedule of events. He said with the number of sponsors that have come forward, including FirstOntario Credit Union, Cavallo Nero, Rotary Hamilton, Bick Advisors, Hamilton Community Foundation and Dodsworth and Brown, the event will become a must-do every year.

“Focusing on music is easy for us to do,” said Knechtel.

During last year’s Heritage Days the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band performed at Fieldcote as a kind of test run for this year.

“We were quite pleased with the response,” he said. “Having it at Fieldcote is simple. It already has a stage, we have a history with Fieldcote.”

For more information, or to purchase tickets, you can go to the website www.hamiltonallstarjazz.org.

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