Just over a week ago, the city of Brantford was alive with the sound of music- more specifically, the sound of jazz music. From September 16 to 18, downtown Brantford was home to this year’s fourth Annual Brantford International Jazz Festival. The streets were closed, the crowds were buzzing, and the musicians were raring to go.
From solo artists, to high school jazz bands, to recipients of the Order of Canada, the Brantford Jazz Festival showcased jazz from all walks of life. President and Chair of the festival, Frank DiFelice, was ecstatic about the way the festival had come together.
“It was a dream of mine to be able to have the festival here in Brantford,” said DiFelice. “The festival was something that came out of the Brantford downtown jazz community and it has worked out really well. It’s really a dream come true.”
DiFelice, along with his wife Nancy, created the festival four years ago as a way of bringing jazz music to Brantford’s forefront.
“It’s so important to be able to share music with the city of Brantford. To be able to create this after spending almost 50 years in the music business is very important to me because it’s my home,” says DiFelice.
Both festival fans and volunteers alike share this belief with DiFelice. Jazz lover Lori Scott and her husband Steve have volunteered for the festival for the past three years, and plan on volunteering again next year.
“The interest in the music is what made us want to come back for the past three years,” says Lori. “I think the festival opens up people’s eyes to the diversity that Brantford can have because there’s been so much hype about the downtown area. An event like this let’s people know that Brantford is still a good place to go, and that we have interesting things to offer.”
While many Brantford residents came out to support the jazz festival, a lot of them acknowledge the fact that jazz may not be suited for everyone.
Johnny Nixon, a musician that performed with his band at the festival, was among the people that felt this.
“I hated jazz for five years because I didn’t understand it. But when you start to listen and understand how it’s performed, then you start to appreciate it more,” Nixon explained. “It’s sort of an acquired taste. Some people love it right away, but I was definitely not one of those people,” he laughs.
Whether you’re a fan of jazz or not, it’s exciting to see such a large festival taking place downtown, especially in a formerly unnoticed area of Brantford.
“It’s all done by Frank DiFelice and his wife, and they’ve done an awesome job promoting it and bringing in great acts,” said Nixon appreciatively. “Anything to revive the downtown is positive, and I think they’ve done well. It’s really getting back to life.”
Frank DiFelice plans to build on the success of the Brantford International Jazz Festival each year by gradually making it bigger and better. And with positive feedback from festival goers and high praise from the performers, it’s clear to see that the festival is here to stay in Brantford.
“This festival is focusing on the community. I’m hearing some buzz from people saying that this is one of the nicest jazz festivals in the country,” said DiFelice. “That makes me really happy, it makes me feel as if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”