Cool sounds, sunset greet fans
By MAUREEN BYRNE
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000
CLEARWATER -- Larry and Maritza Walsh planned to go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Detroit Lions on Thursday.
"We just wanted to see the opening (act) and then go to the game," said Maritza Walsh, 49, who works for the Social Security Administration in Clearwater.
But most of the hundreds of people gathered at the waterfront park didn't seem to have football on their minds. They wanted to hear music by Orquesta Infinidad, pianist Eric Reed and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, the acts for the opening day of the 21st annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday.
"We've been coming here for years," said Jesse Casarez, 68, a retired air traffic control specialist. "We've been jazz fans all our lives."
Willis Williams, 56, plans to catch all four days of the festival. The Albany, N.Y., resident flew here specifically for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday.
Williams' friends Nero Jones, 66, and Lyn Litwa, 53, of Largo attended the Clearwater Jazz Holiday for the first time last year. They enjoyed it so much, they told Williams he shouldn't miss it.
"They have a lot of variety each year," said Jones, a retired federal employee.
Tonight's lineup includes Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers and bassist Stanley Clarke. Musicians scheduled to perform Saturday and Sunday include the Yellowjackets, singer Patti Austin, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and Jerry Gonzales and the Fort Apache Band.
"Every night has a Saturday night headliner," said Chuck Sullivan, president of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation. "We anticipate that this year's festival is going to draw record crowds. So a word to the wise is: Come early."
For the first time this year, a King Sax and Queen Diva were crowned. The mock coronation took place Thursday at Station Square Park in downtown Clearwater. Robin Gomez and Bennetta Slaughter beat out eight other community and business leaders in a competition to raise money for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation, Clearwater Main Street Association and the charity of their choice.
More than $10,000 was raised from the contest, Sullivan said.
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