Review By: Art Jackson
Long Beach Jazz Festival with Kim Benoit - A New Vision
Location: Long Beach, CA Rainbow Lagoon
The vision 29 years ago of jazz drummer Al Williams who started with the Queen Mary Jazz Festival, with daughter Kimberly Benoit being right by his side; the father and daughter team has now built The Long Beach Jazz Festival into one of the premiere events on any coast.
Al Williams features Najee & Barbara Morrison See More Photos Here
In 2013 after taking over from her dad’s as he retired from operations of Rainbow Promotions; Kimberly along with husband and other third generation family members are continuing the traditions and expanding the vision.
Being more comfortable behind the scenes for all these years Smooth Jazz Magazine was able to sit down and do a video interview as Kim took time to accommodate us while the event was still in progress. (Watch the full video interview on our Youtube channel here at: www.youtube.com/smoothjazzmag ).
SJM: I noticed that unlike other promoters you seem to have a lot of patron coming up to you and giving you hugs?
Kimberly: Our patrons are so loyal, the majority come back year after year which is such a blessing for them to do that. Outside of my extended family I consider my patrons my family as well. When they come here its like one big family reunion. They see friends they haven't seen in years, they love the music and the atmosphere so for me its all about the experience. And I would like to thank my patrons for their continued support for 29 years; they are awesome, I love them and we are looking forward to another 29 years.
SJM: From our Saturday posts on social media we got a lot of people on the east coast saying that this was a real “Jazz Festival.” What is your selection process for coming up with your line-up?
Kimberly: I decided to do more jazz this year because that is where we started. For me its about a feeling, I can’t really explain how I select the artists. Its about looking at what's going on around me and trying to figure out what I think the jazz aficionados would like to hear. So I try to have something for everyone.
Paul Jackson Jr. See More Photos Here
SJM: Speaking of having something for everyone. Is there a theme for this year’s festival?
Kimberly: Yes, “A Healthy Taste of Jazz.” We have a “Health & Wellness Pavilion where there is a second stage where various healthcare professionals come and speak about health related topics and we have “Fuze Music” on that second stage, for artists that need a platform and get more recognized. I recall when we were one of the first festivals to have KEM perform and now he has blown up. So we are trying to bring a message of making healthier choices to the patrons while providing good talent an opportunity that they normally would not have.
SJM: How has the business grown and what does it takes to make each year successful?
Kimberly: When we first started there was less competition, now I start in October to survey the artists that I want to showcase to make sure they are available. I want to keep heightening the experience for our patrons; for me its all about how you make a person feel from the time they walk in to the event until the time they leave. So year after year I try and find ways of sharpening the experience as I have accomplished a lot of what I set out to do, but there is more ahead of course as there are things I want to change and implement as I am on a journey to go into other markets and bringing in international artists.
The Rippingtons See More Photos Here