5/19 was Day 1 of Joe’s Jazz and Blues Festival for the city of Somerville

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The sun was blazing down on the hill of Powderhouse Park but the music was decidedly chill. Townies and Tufts kids lounged in the shade around the temporary stage that hosted the opening day festivities of Joe’s Blues and jazz festival for Somerville.

Rising star Brendan Hogan played some trouble-in-mindful original folk-styled tunes from his new release, Long Night Coming, early in the afternoon. A few jam bands and jazz outfits later, Peter Parcek woke up the park with some authoritative, hot electric blues. Parcek didn’t try to hard to work the sparse and scattered crowd but, backed by bassist Marc Hickox and drummer Steve Scully, he dominated an electric guitar. Sounding particularly good on the recent Dylan tune, Beyond Here Lies Nothing, the band also pleased with the title track from their latest release, “The Mathematics of Love.” I was glad to discover these guys who have been around for a while.

After Parcek’s crew, the Ben Powell Quartet kept things moving with some Grapelli-esque jazz-fiddle and the Camelia Latin Jazz Quartet finally get the languid sun-baked crowed to its feet for some dancing. Salsa resolved itself into stomps and sways when Boston native, “The Undaunted” Professor Harp took the stage with his band and blew some Chicago style jump blues to close out the day.

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While the event was as small and laid-back as a festival can be, it made me remember that Powerhouse Park existed, reanimating its virtues, and introduced me to some pretty solid bands in the company of my neighbors.

Events continue throughout the week and indoor venues around town.

--Jason Rabin


--Photos by Allison Stroh