2019 Lineup

December 2nd, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

Saratoga Performing Arts Center exterior photo

The 2019 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival will take place on Saturday June 29th and Sunday June 30th, 2018 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY USA.


The 2019 lineup is almost set and there should be official announcements soon! Meanwhile, I can mention the artists that have leaked so far.

Saturday June 29th
  • Veronica Swift w/ The Emmet Cohen Trio
  • More to come!
Sunday June 30th
  • More to come!


Help support this site, and get ready for the festival by shopping for Jazz CDs on Amazon.com.

SPAC exterior photo on this page licensed via CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia.

  1. Danny Melnick (producer)
    January 17th, 2019 at 15:31 | #1

    We have pushed back the announcement until Feb 1 to better coordinate with one of our headliner’s summer tour announcement plans. DM

  2. phil
    January 17th, 2019 at 11:04 | #2

    The quality of performers have been compromised and the hours were cut last year and the prices have gone up! I have not been going for a few years until the headliners are much better than they have been the last well, since 2014. The reason people come back is because of the hang and it is a tradition but there use to be quality music for 11 or 12 hours, not just one or two at the most

  3. Chuck
    January 15th, 2019 at 14:22 | #3

    The New Orleans Jazz Fest lineup is out. Occasionally there is overlap with Saratoga. Leaving out some names that Saratoga had in the recent years, notable national jazz acts are: Regina Carter’s Southern Comfort, Kamasai Washington, Jonathan Butler with Gerald Albright and Herbie Hancock. Kermit Washington’s tribute to Louis Armstrong could be good. Charles Lloyd and the Marvels with Lucinda Williams is not on the NOLA bill but is still touring. Young blues player Jarekus Singleton is in the NOLA lineup.

  4. Chuck
    January 13th, 2019 at 13:44 | #4

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    Your non participation in the discussion of the line up is fine. However, I hope you will continue to listen to both the praise and constructive criticism of the festival. It can help improve our festival experience.

  5. Mike Bogart
    January 11th, 2019 at 16:16 | #5

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    Good for you Danny folks like Chuck and Joe will never be satisfied anyway you do a great job and our group always look forward to the festival every year !

  6. Danny Melnick (producer)
    January 11th, 2019 at 11:25 | #6

    Hi Friends – we are announcing the jazz festival line-up on Sunday, Jan. 27. The on-sale date will sometime in early February. The amphitheater will start a bit earlier than last year but not at 12 noon. And you may have heard that SPAC was awarded a $1.5 million NYS grant to demolish and rebuild the food court and bathrooms! This will happen AFTER this summer and will be done before the 2020 festival. They are rehabilitating the ramps and the lighting this coming spring and that work will be done before this year’s festival in June.

    I also want everyone to know that I am no longer going to participate in a debate about the artists. An argument about the line-up. Comparisons to yesteryear.

    I have always been committed to programing the best festival possible. To give the artists a chance to be heard, to give them a platform to express themselves, to give the audience the opportunity to have a great time while expanding their musical and personal horizons. I will continue to do that at the festival and in all of the other venues I program.

    I hope everyone has a healthy, fun and bountiful 2019 and I look forward to seeing you at SPAC on June 29 & 30.

    Best – DM

  7. pedritonaz
    January 10th, 2019 at 09:05 | #7

    @john E. price Jr.
    My major complaint about SPAC are the video “screens”. Been going for 30 years and it’s the same ones as my first. You can’t see anything from the lawn until 8:45-9pm. With all the events at SPAC during the year, it’s way past time to upgrade them to some type of LCD/LED screen format. I think it would really enhance the lawn experience.

  8. Joe
    January 9th, 2019 at 18:05 | #8

    Regarding Howee’s comment about the food, you must be kidding. Not only has the food deteriorated, but, I suppose, to keep costs down, SPAC hires very young men and women, who have no idea what they are doing. Now, I’m sure it is good to give young people a job, but I would like to see them perform their duties with a modicum of ability. The service is outright terrible. As to the bathrooms, give me the old bathrooms and 12 hours of top performers any day. Furthermore, it has become impossible to get a close seat without being a SPAC member. Different levels of membership enable different levels of seating, and the ability to purchase tickets before others. Maybe this is fair. I don’t agree with it. Overall, SPAC has become a great disappointment, not only to me, but to many. Just look at how empty it has become. I’ll say no more.

  9. john E. price Jr.
    January 7th, 2019 at 09:14 | #9

    I have to say, after 1988 (my !st), I really can’t complain honestly about SPAC. They’ve done wonders to the venue. And most of the music is on point. We rarely get to see the big names anywhere except overseas etc. They are such high demand all over the world. So, Dan again I applaud you in your effort to provide us with the “EARFOOD” you’ve been serving. You can’t please everyone. The new artist as like the OLD, need a chance to grow and show us their craft. So, maybe in another 15 yrs or so, someone will be looking for the Joey Alexander, TEN,Greg Porter. And they too will be booked.
    Do what you do best, make the lot of us appreciate SPAC.

    One thing. NO MORE RAIN !!!!!!!!

  10. Jeff G.
    January 2nd, 2019 at 15:12 | #10

    Dan, maybe you can get Harvey Mason-CHAMELEON BAND this upcoming year or next year. Just a thought.

  11. admin
    January 2nd, 2019 at 13:54 | #11


    Ordinarily I don’t have to do much comment moderation here. But things have been getting a little chippy lately. So I thought it would be useful to provide some guidelines to help guide future discussion.

    I am happy to see debate and opposing viewpoints expressed intelligently and respectfully. But personal attacks will not be tolerated. One-liners that do not advance the discussion may be moderated.

    Comments associated with real names or established pseudonyms will be given more leeway than anonymous comments.

  12. Chuck
    January 1st, 2019 at 18:43 | #12

    To quote WGBO DJ Michael Bourne, the five Bs of Jazz are BEBOP, BLUES, BALLADS, BRAZIL and the BIZARRE. Smooth Jazz can be squeezed into most if not all of those categories.

  13. Diane Littleflower
    January 1st, 2019 at 10:24 | #13

    Is that what it is? I’ve been wondering where all the really hot jazz names are, if not at the annual jazz fests. Honestly, I don’t have to travel — or pay the big sheckels– to see small-time jazz, we have local jazz musicians I can enjoy right here. The Newport and Saratoga Jazz festivals used to mean the main forces in jazz and jazz-fusion, Marcus Miller, Gerald Veasley, Boney James, 3rd Force, George Howard, Walter Beasley, Down to the Bone, Jeff Kashiewa, etc. It’s so disappointing not to be able to find good jazz shows these days.

  14. Howee Gold
    December 31st, 2018 at 16:46 | #14

    Danny- Thanks for addressing some of the issues in the comments section last year. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is always nice to hear what problems the producer encounters.
    I remember complaining a few years ago when Pieces of a Dream played a short set and you explained it was their managers fault, nothing to do with Joey Alexander playing an encore. As you mentioned the days of 10 acts noon-midnight are long gone. You can’t compare Saratoga to New Orleans as they are completely different venues and locations. They have also gone through a lot of changes over the years to accommodate the growing crowds.
    Those who have been attending since the JVC/Kool sponsored years might be forgetting the awful bathrooms and non-existent food or drink options at SPAC. Remember there was no gazebo or crafts tent back in the day either! The idea of one or two local groups performing on main stage would be a great alternative. Also you could show videos of past performers (there’s plenty online on YouTube)during the down time.
    One of the many challenges of organizing the festival is that a lot of artists who are touring can fill venues for a lot more money. I see that George Benson and Steve Gadd are playing Rochester the week before Saratoga, and good seats cost $100 for each show. I hope they are in the lineup this year!

  15. Michael
    December 31st, 2018 at 13:26 | #15

    I agree, the big names are hard to come by these years. Used to be more music, better names, better food. I still go cause of tradition, but it’s not like years ago when all year you couldn’t wait till the jazz festival, now it’s like eh, okay it’s here

  16. Chuck
    December 31st, 2018 at 09:47 | #16

    Amen, Joe. Only it’s 35 years for me.

  17. Joe
    December 30th, 2018 at 15:36 | #17

    I have been attending this festival yearly for over 22 years. At that time it was the JVC festival and it was outstanding in every way. There were multiple top name jazz performers on both days. Over the years, and especially since the change to Freihoffer, there has been a deterioration in the quality of the performers, a decrease in the hours, from noon to midnight on both days, a yearly decline in the quality and variety of food offered and a deterioration in service to such a low point I don’t think we can reach a lower level. All of this with an increasing cost to the consumer. I continue to attend only due to tradition. I would not recommend it to anyone otherwise.

  18. michael
    December 25th, 2018 at 22:04 | #18

    starting the festival at 3pm was disaster ! also the lineup was AWFULL if they do it this year I will be finding another festival.

  19. Mary Jones
    December 23rd, 2018 at 19:49 | #19

    Please get some Smooth Jazz!!!

  20. Chuck
    December 19th, 2018 at 08:44 | #20

    No mention of anything being done about last year’s universally disliked change of starting the main stage at 3:00 P.M. Personally, I like the New Orleans model which runs the festival from 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. leaving time for post mortems in the bars and restaurants of the town. Hopefully the well liked changes from last year, the tent and the 11:00 A.M. start at the gazebo, will be continued.

  21. Danny Melnick (producer)
    December 15th, 2018 at 01:09 | #21

    We are going to announce the festival line-up in late January and go on-sale in mid-February. Happy Holidays and a peaceful and healthy New Year to all!

    Best DM