Labor of Love: Warwick Valley Jazz Festival opens Thursday, Aug. 26

| 30 Sep 2011 | 08:25

Warwick - When the Skye Jazz Quartet opens the Warwick Valley Jazz Festival next week, the largest town in Orange County will host its own jazz festival and its founder and sponsors will showcase some of the town’s spectacular early American architecture, charming courtyards and famous Black Dirt produce. Warwick resident Steve Rubin, a drummer and bandleader-turned-music festival founder, has turned one gig in August at the Courtyard into Opening Night of the first annual Warwick Valley Jazz Festival. The show will feature Bob Rosen on saxophone, Joe Vincent Tranchina on keyboards, Eric Lemon on bass and Rubin on drums. For the festival, Rubin was adamant about attracting local jazz musicians and showcasing big names to draw residents and tourists alike to existing venues like Railroad Avenue Merchants’ Music in the Courtyard. “I want the full spectrum of jazz that’s available,” said Rubin about his vision for the festival, and there is something for everyone in the lineup. For festival beginners, Rubin recommends “shows that have vocalists” so look for Sherma Andrews with the Chris Persad Group and Gabrielle Tranchina making multiple appearances, including at the Warwick All Stars Jam at the Dautaj on Friday night. For a taste of something “a little different,” catch Jazz Electronica with Warren Sirota looping his electro-acoustic guitar at the Tuscan Café on Saturday at 1 p.m. Keep it local The humble beginnings of the Warwick Jazz Festival might surprise professional event planners and jazz enthusiasts everywhere. With little more than a $2,000 grant from Orange County and a host of strong supporters, the first Warwick Valley Jazz Festival will include big name acts like Latin Jazz great Arturo O’Farrill on Saturday night at Coquito. “I’m not an expert; I’m an enthusiast,” said Rubin. “I watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and was a rock and roll fan most of my life.” (Rubin adds he was a disco show band dance/funk drummer in the seventies “before DJ’s took over.”) Planning a new, four-day jazz celebration is a challenge in these tough economic times and Rubin is thankful for the help and “tolerance” from his wife, actress Bettina Skye, and friends George Nitti, Dave Smith and Joe Tranchina. It’s the only thing I’ve been talking about,” said Rubin, who started planning the festival last Thanksgiving and has taken over the entire kitchen table. Rubin worked full-time and “kept it all local,” referring to the logo and Web site design by Paul Siegel at Bozarts Digital Design, poster layout by Nina Kannon Prepress Services, printing by Giant Copy, and T-shirts by the Toy Chest. The first Warwick Valley Jazz Festival opens Thursday Aug. 26 and runs through Sunday Aug. 29 at multiple venues throughout Warwick. Should you spot a little white dog on stage, that’s Taiyo, Rubin’s smallest biggest fan. Look for Rubin and Taiyo walking around the perimeter of the farmer’s market on Sunday listening to the Mike Jackson Duo at 10 a.m.

I’m not an expert; I’m an enthusiast. I watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and was a rock and roll fan most of my life.” Steve Rubin, musician and organizer of the first Warwick Jazz Festival