Screenshot from video of last year's festival
The third annual Latin Jazz and Blues Festival takes over Houghton Park Saturday with the theme of this year’s fest being “Jazz and Unity for a Healthy Community.”
This year’s lineup gained some Grammy clout when Councilman Steve Neal’s staff was able to land award-winning artist Pancho Sanchez for the event. Joining him will be local act DW3 as well as The Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band and Boxcar 7.
“I really have to hand that over to my staff,” Neal said, taking time to personally credit the newly elected Rex Richardson for securing Sanchez for this year’s event. “Working with my staff and the parks and recs department…they have been fabulous in making this thing a huge success every year.”
In addition to enjoying world-class jazz for free at one of the city’s great regional parks, there will be food trucks and a kid’s zone, with many of the activities and foods focusing on healthy habits. The event, which is being sponsored in part by the Port of Long Beach, the fire and police departments as well as several other organizations, is free because of a combination of the district’s parks and recreation funds and donations.
Neal expects this year’s event to be the best attended, following the path of growth the festival has enjoyed since year one. Establishing an event like this in North Long Beach was critical to Neal when he took office.
“One of the things that was very important to us and my administration when I came on was really to try and dispel the misnomer how unsafe North Long Beach is,” Neal said. “I think the area gets a bad wrap as far as its viability when compared with other parts of the city. We wanted to create something the residents could be proud of and show that North Long Beach is just like other parts of the city…you can bring your family out, have a great day and basically be safe.”
People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets so they can be comfortable while enjoying the music from the lawn.
Even though Neal’s term has come to an end, he’s confident that the Latin Jazz Festival is something that will not only live on without him being a part of City Council, but something that will flourish.
“It’s become a tradition here in the North and that was our goal when we started it,” Neal said. “We expect the event to grow and continue to be a huge success.”
The Latin Jazz and Blues Festival will take place Saturday, May 24 from 2PM to 8PM at Houghton Park, 6301 Myrtle Avenue.