Wine and jazz and more, much more

Bop downtown to Esther Short Park for a party that welcomes a world of culture

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter



If you go

• What: Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival. The three-day festival features jazz, blues and Cajun performances; about 200 wines for sampling; 10 restaurants and food vendors; and about 40 local and regional artists with work on display and for sale. The musical lineup includes Mavis Staples, John Hammond, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Spyro Gyra and David Sanborn. A complete lineup is available online.

• When: 4-10 p.m. Aug. 27, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 28 and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 29.

• Where: Esther Short Park, West Eighth and Columbia streets, Vancouver.

• Admission: $20 on Aug. 27, and $25 on Aug. 28 or Aug. 29. Three-day passes are $60. Tickets are available at the gate or through TicketsWest, 800-992-8499 or, with an additional service charge. Food and drinks are not included in the price of admission. One-ounce samples of wine are $1, and most glasses will range from $4 to $8. Most food is $6-$12.

• Information:, 360-906-0441.

Headline Acts

Aug. 27

8-10 p.m.: Mavis Staples

Aug. 28

2:30-4 p.m.: John Hammond

4:30-6: Brubeck Brothers Quartet

6:30-8: Spyro Gyra

8:30-10: David Sanborn

Aug. 29

3:30-5 p.m.: Stanley Jordan

5:30-7: The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band

7:30-9: The Rippingtons

The Vancouver Wine & Jazz festival isn’t trying to be tricky with its name. It really is focused on wine and jazz.

The music lineup includes Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning blues singer Mavis Staples, and as well blues singer and guitarist John Hammond and jazz saxophonist David Sanborn, both Grammy winners themselves. About 200 wines will be available for patrons to sample as they take in the aural delights.

But those who don’t consider themselves wine aficionados or jazz fans can still find things to enjoy at the festival, which runs Aug. 27-29 in Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver.

“It’s a cultural event, an artistic event, a community event,” said Michael Kissinger of Vancouver, founder and artistic director of the festival, now in its 13th year. “You don’t necessarily have to like wine or jazz. But what I find is, most people who may not be jazz fans when they come are when they leave, because it’s great music and they have a great time.”

Twenty-three concerts are scheduled during the three days. Some groups, such as The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band from New Orleans, will push many people’s definitions of jazz.

“We try to have a wide variety” of musical styles under the overarching jazz umbrella, Kissinger said.

For those who need a little more convincing, Kissinger offered the following five reasons other than wine and jazz to check out the festival, which last year drew an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people:

1. Food

Ten restaurants and food vendors will be on hand, many of them from Clark County. Cuisine will run the gamut from German to Italian to Lebanese, Hawaiian and Northwest.

Everett Mellish from La Center will be there with his portable wood-fired oven imported from Italy. He’ll serve up individual-sized pizzas in varieties such as Margherita, Greek and Meat Lover’s. Pizzas will range from $8 to $11.

This will be the first Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival for Mellish, who launched Bella Bee Wood Fired Pizza about six months ago.

“I’m looking forward to listening to music and making good pizzas,” he said.

While Mellish is a festival newcomer, Tom Wright is a veteran.

This will be Wright’s 12th year at the festival with his Tommy’s Taste of Hawaii stand. The Vancouver resident specializes in pineapple-glazed chicken. He’ll offer a plate of chicken, rice and vegetables for $8. He’ll have a tropical salad topped with chicken for $8, as well. A combination plate of chicken, salad and rice is $9.

Wright’s wife, Deb Coakes-Wright, will have two Deb’s Double Dip ice cream carts at the festival. This will be her fourth year at the event. She’ll serve Umpqua ice cream in waffle cones, at $4 for one scoop, $5 for two and $6 for three. Brownie sundaes will be $5.

“It’s just a fun time,” Wright said. “It’s something we look forward to every year.”

2. Trip planning

New this year is a booth promoting travel to Croatia, tied to the sister jazz festival Kissinger is launching in Dubrovnik next year. Kissinger has ties to Croatia as a guest conductor of Dubrovnik’s professional orchestra.

The festival will take place in May 2011. Travel professionals such as agents from KOP Travel International Bureau in Vancouver will be on hand this weekend to discuss trip packages.

3. Art

About 40 local and regional musicians will display and sell their work. Some, such as Vancouver painter James Dunbar, are first-timers.

“I figured it’s time,” said Dunbar, who has done wine and art festivals in Portland and Seattle. Dunbar does acrylic and oil paintings of scenes such as city lights and flowers.

This will be Vancouver artist Garry Carr’s fourth year at the festival. Carr makes carved and painted gourds.

“I’ve done pretty well there, actually,” he said. “It’s kind of nice to have (a festival) close to home.”

4. Beer

The festival will offer draft beers such as Pabst, Guinness and Pyramid for $5 per 12-ounce glass. Root beer will be available, as well.

5. Youth musicians

The festival is an opportunity to support student musicians. For the second year, there will be a stage where younger musicians will play in between main-stage acts. The youth musicians include The Christopher Brothers, a kids’ rock band from California, and 19-year-old Portland drummer Parker Hall and his jazz trio.

Spotlighting student musicians is a step toward Kissinger’s ultimate goal of establishing a weeklong jazz camp for youths tied to the festival.