2018 Lineup

Saratoga Performing Arts Center exterior photo

The 2018 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival took place on Saturday June 23rd and Sunday June 24th, 2018 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY USA.

The 2019 lineup will take place on Saturday June 29th and Sunday June 30th. Check out the latest lineup news at our 2019 lineup page.


For the first time in the Festival’s 41-year history, performances will begin at 11 a.m. on the newly built Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” stage. Performances on the amphitheater stage will begin at 3 p.m.

Doors open at 10am both days!

Vote in our poll: Who was your favorite 2018 performer?

View the results of our poll: Which 2018 Performers Are You Most Looking Forward To?

Saturday June 23rd


  • 10:30 –  1:30 ~ Todd Barkan – DJ Set
  •  3:00 –  4:10 ~ Anat Cohen Tentet
  •  4:30 –  5:40 ~ Joey Alexander
  •  6:05 –  7:15 ~ Lean on Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers
  •  7:45 –  9:00 ~ Herbie Hancock
  •  9:30 – 11:00 ~ Chris Botti

Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage (new Gazebo Stage)

  • 11:05 – 12:10 ~ Alfredo Rodriguez & Pedrito Martinez Duo
  • 12:30 –  1:35 ~ New Orleans @ 300 featuring Evan Christopher, David Torkanowsky
  •  1:55 –  3:00 ~ Christian Sands Trio
  •  3:20 –  4:25 ~ Jazzmeia Horn & Shannon Powell
  •  4:45 –  5:50 ~ Keyon Harrold
  •  6:10 –  7:15 ~ Lakecia Benjamin and SoulSquad
Sunday June 24th


  • 10:30 –  1:30 ~ Todd Barkan – DJ Set
  •  3:00 –  4:10 ~ TEN: Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Nicholas Payton
  •  4:35 –  5:45 ~ Mavis Staples
  •  6:10 –  7:25 ~ Gregory Porter
  •  8:00 –  9:30 ~ Jon Batiste with The Dap-Kings

Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage (new Gazebo Stage)

  • 11:05 – 12:05 ~ Sammy Miller & The Congregation
  • 12:25 –  1:25 ~ Mark Whitfield, Ben Allison, Billy Drummond
  •  1:50 –  2:50 ~ The Jazz Passengers 30th Anniversary
  •  3:15 –  4:20 ~ Deva Mahal
  •  4:45 –  5:50 ~ Jane Bunnett & Maqueque
  •  6:15 –  7:20 ~ Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band


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.

111 replies on “2018 Lineup”

Been attending Jazz Fest since undergrad at SUNY Albany. In 2018, within 4 months, lost both parents, who lived great lives. In 2018, good friend insisted I attend Jazz Fest, although feeling feeling very sad. It was raining, sitting in under the tree, then music of Chris Brodie filled the atmosphere, making me realize life was good. Been listening and fan of Chris, ever since.
Thank you, SPAC Jazz Music Festival for this unforgettable feeling.

RIP Roy Hargrove. Way too young. He played at the festival 6x between 1991 and 2002 and was a force of nature. The young musicians of today all love him because he gave so much to them.

RIP Aretha. The Greatest of All Time. Her one and only festival appearance was when she closed the 1993 festival. Love you Ms. Franklin!

Well now that some time has passed and yes, we’ve all dried out…..I can equivocally say that neither I nor the people I attend with are pleased with the DJ format. I’m a newby, only 6 seasons, though my friends have been going for 20 and 30 years. They all are not thrilled with the DJ format. Hearing some of the same songs on the 2nd day added insult to injury. I do agree that due to the weather a true indication of the “DJ effect” can not truly be gauged…..Now that I’ve said my piece on that….The lineup for both stages was good and I was happy to see jazz closers for each night. Personal highlights were Chris Botti, Herbie Hancock, Mavis Staples, and Whitfield, Allison & Drummond…. Happy we have this forum to talk and state our feelings. Thank you for that Danny, and thank you for your hard work in putting this together every year!!!

Now that we’re all dried out. Just a few comments on 2018 jazz fest. We come at 5:15 – 5:30 AM every year for the past 25 yrs or so. Rain or shine, we’re there at the rte 50 gate. I’ve always told myself that It would not make that much difference to me of the artist performing.
WE (7-16) travel ’bout 3 – 4 hours each year. I just can’t see after spending $$$$ to make the trip. WE got to listen to a “DJ” for almost 4 hours during the weekend. If we wanted to listen to the radio/cd. WE could have set up out tents in the parking lot. BUT, it’s has been and always will be ’bout the hang.

Dan, you’ve always given it your best to provide a mix of music. It’s even harder to satisfy the many. However, this year I was tossed from the Gazebo to the Amp. of which artist I wanted to listen. and even through the deluge of rain. I was satisfied and wet. Good job !!

So thanx again for serving the “EARFOOD”

I like the idea of scholastic talent for the main stage early. I recall the Skidmore Jazz Institute playing for several years. Seems like a natural fit for young talent who would be happy to be given the opportunity.
Danny we appreciate you participating in this forum. Please don’t let the negative vibes from a soggy weekend prevent you from being here.

This year was an outlier in terms of weather. Saturday may have been the worst weather day I’ve ever attended! And the forecast for Sunday was arguably even worse, though it turned out to be the better day. So surely it’s not fair to attribute the change in attendance or mood on the lawn solely to the change in format! Hopefully we have two sunny 80 degree days next year and then we may have a better idea how the new format works.

The DJ set was a bit disappointing. It was better than silence (and even with an earlier start I think it would be nice to have some filler for the hours before the live music starts). But I was hoping for something that was more fun and informative. Simply talking about when the artist had performed at the festival in the past would have been kind of neat, I think. The idea of bringing in a local college jazz band (Skidmore? SUNY Albany?) to play an opening set could be a win-win deal. Maybe even something like a live podcast recording could be interesting…

Though there was less music on the main stage, once it started I thought on average the performances were better than in years past. And the lineup seemed more jazz-focused, where it had drifted more into R&B and Blues in the past. With fewer main stage slots to fill hopefully the quality and relevance can continue to improve!

@Danny Melnick (producer)
I don’t contribute here to make myself “feel better”, I do so in the hope that the festival can be better. In my and many others opinion the quality and quantity of the performance at the festival has deteriorated. In my opinion “every set was NOT amazing”. Despite everyone I spoke to both before and during the festival saying that the later amphitheater start was a bad idea, you stated that this change will continue. By the way the stage lighting in the amphitheater was brilliant this year. Keep those people, just ask them to work the six hours you took away from the main stage this year.

Chuck – This website is a non-sanctioned fan-based public forum. There isn’t another jazz festival on earth that has something like this where the audience can communicate with each other and the producer in such an open manner. For you to say that I am not concerned about the audience, or not listening to criticism, is fiction. I have been actively participating here for years to the amazement of my colleagues worldwide. They think I’m nuts for engaging in this environment but I feel it’s my responsibility to do so. And I do it because I care. I care about the audience who keep this festival alive. I care about the artists who dedicate their entire lives from childhood to play this music. I care about the sponsors and SPAC who commit year after year to doing whatever is necessary to make the festival as great as it can be. 41 years. Peerless in the northeast.

To say the quality of the lineup and the festival has deteriorated over the years is absurd. The artists who have performed at the festival have consistently earned standing ovations and rave reviews from the audience year after year. This year was exceptional. Every set amazing. For years we have presented some of the world’s most successful, accomplished, famous and heralded artists. Musicians who are NEA Jazz Masters, MacArthur Genius Fellows, who have won hundreds of Grammy Awards, who play the world over, who win downbeat and JazzTimes “best of” awards year after year, etc etc… And if you suggest to compare the last 20 years to the first 20 years, please at least acknowledge how many irreplaceable legendary innovators have passed on since the early days.

You can continue to bash me if it makes you feel better. I will continue to evolve this annual historic celebration of what is great about humanity with commitment, confidence and conviction.

Best – DM

@Keith Perla
Amen again Keith. The promoter on three occasions has noted his concern for the artists over the needs of the audience. The hard work of the staff cannot undo the miscalculations of the promoter.

Let’s be clear about one thing… Danny Melnick and his crew work incredibly hard ALL YEAR to make this festival a success. However we all have to understand ..this is a festival ,not a group of concerts..your duty is to the attendees , not always the musicians. Jazz festivals are about ambiance..the guy blowing bubbles, the couple making out, the crazy dancin guy, people hangin out on the lawn, just diggin life. That is sadly gone. I was accosted from a mob of A,T&T solicitors more than once. There was an incredible lack of morale present on the lawn. The lawn people and the tent people are crucial to this festival..I think that has been forgotten and has to be addressed.

@Keith Perla
Amen Keith! Though I liked the earlier Gazebo start and the earlier entry run. I too am part of the morning rush as I get on line early and proceed in with the gear behind a much better runner from our group. The lack of music at the amphitheater at the start is a big downer. I have been coming from Long Island to this event for 35 consecutive years. Our group is seriously debating whether Freihofer is a worthy “destination” event any longer. The quality of the lineup has deteriorated over the years and now the lesser quantity and unappealing format make the festival less desirable. My sense is that we are wasting our time talking to the promoter as he has reigned over the deterioration of the event over the last 20 years and appears to accept no responsibility for legitimate criticism. Nor is he willing to accept the obvious that the later amphitheater start of the event is likely to encourage day tippers (especially Sunday day trippers) to stay away as an early start and early finish is in their interest.

I am a 59 year old man who has been going to the festival for over 40 with my crew of 10 people. We are part of the “running of the bulls” at the opening of the gates. We then proceed to the same spot on the lawn. We also purchase inside seats, but always have enjoyed sitting outside and watching the first couple of acts outside. This year with the gates opening at 10 on both days we sat on the lawn and looked at an empty stage for 5 hours. We did go over to the gazebo and all seats were taken. I heard numerous complaints from patrons that purchased inside seats at the higher price that they were shortchanged with the music starting at 3. The beauty of the festival atmosphere is the ability to move around from the lawn to inside and to the gazebo to hear music. In previous years the 10 opening was only on Saturday and 11 on Sunday. The 11 start of music is too early. Why not open the gates at 11 on both days start the music at the gazebo at 12 and center stage at 1:30. Three o’clock is too late for the center stage start. You can certainly find local or college musicians that would love to play on center stage to open the festival. You can tell or show them through a monitor that there are plenty of listeners on the lawn. We were actually bored on the lawn this year and are reconsidering returning.

@Danny Melnick (producer)
The tent in the gazebo area was a major improvement despite the uncomfortable benches and chairs (for these 71 year old bones). Next year I bring a cushion. The lack of an alternative stage in the early part of the day is really a big loss. As an attendee of many festivals, one of their most appealing factors is the option to move along to another venue. I find it keeps me fresh and more interested. Of course also the amphitheater comes in handy in bad weather as this past Saturday made clear from 11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.


Hi Chuck and everyone – Firstly – thanks to everyone who joined us over the weekend and for braving the weather. That aside, we felt the vibe was great and the bands were all happy to be there and we were very pleased with the festival overall.

With regard to the business – fact is we did better than last by over 5%. We were up almost 18% two weeks prior to the festival and when the forecast hit, everything slowed down. The forecast was actually worse than what happened but people react to the forecast and freeze. Seen it happen countless times here and everywhere else. If the weather was nice, as it has been for weeks (and even on Friday and then Monday and yesterday), we would have hit a grand-slam. And lots of people who bought tickets for Sunday didn’t show because of the weather.

The concept of folks committing for the two days is long past. That behavior changed about 15+ years ago just like the two 12-hour days, etc. etc… It’s all in the past.

I know some of you know some or all of this, but I want to reiterate here too – I have been working on the festival since 1991. I started booking the artists 20 years ago, in 1999 and became a partner with SPAC 10 years ago in 2009, soon after George sold his company. (I worked for him for 17 years and then for another 6 years in Newport from 2012-2017 inclusive.)

I have seen the decline of the amphitheater attendance during the first few hours of the day for years and years. 90% of the tickets sold are reserved seats but 90% of the audience doesn’t go into the amphitheater until later on in the afternoon and then at night. In addition to looking and feeling lousy, it sounded lousy because there were no bodies to absorb the sound and the artists were pretty unhappy because they were playing to 4500+ empty seats. As much as I tried to explain to them that folks on the lawn were listening, I got a lot of negative feedback from them and their agents and managers weren’t happy either. It got to a point, about 5 years ago, where agents wouldn’t agree to book their artists if they were going to go on early. I have wanted to make this change for years and the new “gazebo” stage allowed me to give it a shot.

The idea to have Todd there as a DJ was to celebrate the first five years of the festival, to honor our deep history and to give longtime fans a walk down memory lane as everyone always talks about the good ‘ole days. I wanted him to tell stories about the artists (as he knew and knows ALL of them) and to speak about the recordings. And I wanted to start on the new stage earlier to take advantage of the stage itself, the new set-up with the tent, and the fact that we moved the crafts tent over, to create critical mass there. That worked like a charm and people were so happy all weekend. I also hoped to create critical mass in the amphitheater with the later start and that worked too. The vibe from start to finish was great both days.

The weather clearly was challenging and didn’t help with Todd’s time there. He felt he wanted to play more music and talk less because it was raining so badly on Saturday and I know it was frustrating to some people. A lot of folks told me they loved the new format but some obviously didn’t. We are studying the pros and cons and have numerous thoughts about how to tweak it for next year but we are definitely not going to start in the amphitheater at noon. Maybe earlier than 3pm, maybe do something different with that early time….

Please know that I am glad so many of you are so passionate about the festival and know that we are doing everything we can to move it forward to make it the best experience it can be for the audience and for the artists.

We’ll keep you and everyone posted as we plan for 2019 (June 29-30).

I wish everyone a healthy, fun and peaceful summer and year ahead.

If anyone wants to email me directly, please do so at contactus@absolutelylive.net

Thanks – DM

Can the festival survive the debacle of this year’s attendance? The lawn was a ghost town on Sunday. I noticed that there were very few day trippers on Sunday. These people tend to arrive early and leave early. There wasn’t the usual 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. exodus as these folks were not there in the first place. It wasn’t just the weather as ticket sales were obviously lagging ahead of time for Sunday as in the closing weeks the Father’s Day Sunday discount was offered. The miscalculation of starting the amphitheater at 3:00 P.M. most likely put this part of the normal attendees off. Personally the lack of a second entertainment option for six usual hours of the festival was a big pay cut. Also we might have stayed on Saturday during the heavy rain if there was an entertainment option in the protection of main stage. As it was we left for lunch and the world cup on TV from 12:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. Hopefully the festival will survive and the amphitheater hours will be reinstated.

Yes ! Please bring Boney back!
What about josh stone she started out on the Gazebo years ago
It would be nice to have her on the main stage .

10 days people!!! We are offering a Father’s Day discount code for the Sunday, June 24 show only. If you haven’t gotten Sunday tickets, you can get a 15% discount by using the code DAD183 at checkout. Go to spac.org.

See you at SPAC!

Best DM

19 days!!!! Holy moly…. crazy busy on production, etc. Tix sales are way ahead of last year.

I’ll be on WPYX Albany 106.5FM and online – https://pyx106.iheart.com/ – on Weds morning at 9:30am. It’s a classic rock station but they’re very into the line-up and the festival.

Rock on – DM

The set times are up on the official SPAC site. For me the significant conflict is on Saturday where Jose James and Lakecia Benjamin are playing at the same time. Mavis Staples and Jane Bunnett are playing simultaneously on Sunday. Weather permitting I’ll be at the Gazebo for Jane Bunnett. Saw her last year and was impressed and have seen Mavis several times in recent years. The Carrington/Spalding/Payton opening act on Sunday in the Amphitheater has to be one of the best ever openers on the main stage (I hope).

Hi Chuck – the first plans were announced yesterday at a press event in Saratoga. There’s some info here: https://chamber.saratoga.org/events/details/spac-brings-the-freihofer-s-saratoga-jazz-festival-to-town-for-a-friday-night-jazz-fest-weekend-kick-off-31361 and here https://www.timesunion.com/7day-breaking/article/SPAC-Saratoga-businesses-adding-third-day-to-12933986.php

SPAC wil be adding info to their site soon.

Best DM

@Danny Melnick (producer)
The SPAC site refers to “scores of live jazz events” on Friday June 22nd. Other than the rather expensive event at the casino with Bria Skonberg I have been unable to determine what jazz is scheduled. Any info or tips as to what is planned?

Congratulations to the following artists who will be performing at the festival next month!

Anat Cohen – Jazz Journalists Association Award (JJAA)- Clarinetist of the Year (for the 12th year in a row!)

Jazzmeia Horn – JJAA – Up & Coming Musician of the Year

Esperanza Spalding – Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music

And incredible new album releases by Joey Alexander, Lakecia Benjamin & Deva Mahal.

And Elizabeth Sobol & I will be live on the radio tonight (May 14) from 7-8:30pm, talking about the festival – http://www.radiofreeamerica.com/schedule/wooc

Best DM

@Ernie Wilson
Hi Ernie – yes, we announced this a few weeks ago. Todd Barkan, who was recently named a NEA Jazz Master, a longtime jazz album producer, club owner, manager, concert producer and one of my great mentors is going to be a live DJ from 10am-1:30/2pm both days, and is going to play music from artists who performed during the first 5 years of the festival (1978-1982). He is going to be set-up on amphitheater plaza, facing the lawn, and the music will be heard inside the amphitheater and onto the lawn. He will tell stories about the artists, list the musicians, conduct live interviews with some of the musicians who are playing the festival this year and offer us an opportunity to celebrate the early days of the festival and the artists who were there. The “Jazz Discovery Stage” will start at 11am so both things will be happening until the amphitheater gets going at 3pm each day. Best – DM

thank you for you response Dm. I did not know he lived in France now it would have been great to see him. I hope you are up walking and feeling better. See you at the show and thanks again.


Sorry……I misspelled singer’s name

It’s …..,,,,,,,,,,,,,,..CECILE McCLORIN SALVANT

So very sorry Celine maclorin Salvant is not going to be there.

Saw her @ Scullers in Boston and so Enamoured.

She is a very Hot Grammy Winner, a unique blend of new and old.

@Danny Melnick (producer)

Danny – just listened to the NPR clip on Jazzmeia talking about scatting… and being a black woman in the USA. Thank you. She told it like it is. Somewhere, I have a video clip of Mel Torme
sharing his feelings about scatting with a class of college aged music students. It was brilliant. I am going to try to get to Saratoga this year. Hope to see you there. Cheers! Stephen

I have all the lineups. I’ve also wanted to put a book together with pictures artists and all the lineups. I’ve gone since the very first one.


Hi Friends – Hope everyone is feeling that spring vibe. Supposed to be 70* this weekend!

I’ve been held up with a broken ankle this past month from a mishap during a snowstorm in early March but have 8 more days in the orthopedic boot and should be (better be!) good to go….

I was listening to this “Jazz Night in America” NPR program this morning and wanted to share it with y’all. –


Jazzmeia is the real deal and I’m so glad she’ll be with us on June 23.

Best – DM

I’ve been attending since 1984 and have records of many of the years. Let me know what you lack and perhaps I can help out.

Am compiling lists of performers from all 40 previous festivals to go along with the many pictures I’ve complied. My records are spotty. Can anyone help fill in some blanks on each years lineup.
Also….much confusion….especially from those of us who have been to them all as to the format changes, gate opening, start time for 1st act etc…. Hoping that SPAC puts out the word soon. Lineup is great.

why don’t we all look forward to and focus on the artists that will be performing in June and not worry about who is not performing ? After the Festival in June we can all send our suggestions for 2019 !

@Danny Melnick (producer)
I saw Steve Tyrell last night and he was excellent as usual though I wish he would jettison the second filler keyboard. He has expanded his catalogue a bit on his new album to include Van Morrison and Otis Redding covers among others in addition to his wonderful Great American Song Book renditions. He would always be a worthy Saratoga booking. The revelation was Grace Kelly who sat in on about half the songs. Her playing seemed excellent though somewhat under mixed. The surprise was the vocals. She appears to be a terrific song stylist. She last appeared at the Gazebo in 2009 (she didn’t sing then as I recall). With her singing, playing and dynamic “fox bomb” appearance, she is possibly an emerging jazz star and should be considered for future booking.

Hey Danny Next time(year) Freddie Hendrix would be a great choice.

Could do worse with Mack Avenue All Stars

I am interested in seeing Najee perform at the Jazz festival, I have spoken with hsiManager Fareed Haqq who has also expressed an interest in having Najee perform at the Jazz festival. How can we make this happen?

I have asked about getting VINX to play for years now any interest at all or he is not able to do show ?? Danny can you please respond this time. Thanks

Who was the drummer in Christian McBride’s big band in 2015? He was an older white guy that kicked it and I haven’t been able to find his name.

I’m 15 years old and I would love to be able to play my trumpet at the gazebo for only a little time or go on for a set with a band and the 2018 Jazz Festival.

Saw “Lean on Me: Jose James Celebrates Bill Withers” last night (had the tickets before the SPAC announcement) and loved it. It’s a great combination of soul and jazz. He does all the hits (“Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Just the Two of Us”, “Use Me”, “Grandma’s Hands”, “Lean On Me” etc.). Terrific band with James Francies, Reuben Rogers, Nate Smith and a guitarist whose name I didn’t catch. Me thinks the ladies especially will love this set on Saturday.

We are working to confirm which clubs will participate and will announce that when ready. The clubs will book the artists directly. DM

The festival like all things, has to evolve and change to survive. The Jazz Giants of old are all slowly leaving us.
There are so many more festivals now then there was when this all started.
I am all for trying new things to keep the festival fresh while retaining the core elements that make us all look forward to going every single year. I have been going for over 30 years now to this festival. Here is to 30 more.
One thing I do agree with. I don’t know how I am ever going to ever embrace calling the gazebo the discovery stage. That wont be easy!

I went through all the schedules from 1984 (when I first attended) and checked who was performing in the featured slots (I considered two each day). I was struck by how the following artists carried this role so often: David Sanborn (8), George Benson (7), Ray Charles (5), Spyro Gyra (4) and Grover Washington, Jr. (3). This year will be Chris Botti’s third time in a feature slot.

@Joe l
Right you are Joe, the reduction in Amphitheater acts has been considerable. From the onset in 1978 through 1996 the festival was noon to midnight both days with 9 acts on the main stage each day. From ’97 to ’99 there were either 8 or 9 acts each of the days. From 2000 through 2004 it went to 9 acts on Saturday and 8 acts on Sunday with an earlier closing time before 11:00 P.M. for Sunday. In ’05 and ’06 the schedule went to 8 acts on Saturday and 7 on Sunday with proportionally earlier closing times. From’07 through last year,’17, it lowered again to 7 acts on Sunday and 6 on Saturday. Now in ’18 we go to 5 and 4. We’ve gone from 18 main stage acts to 9. The Gazebo in the early years was 4 acts each day but with a longer than the traditional hour playing time. Since at least ’88 there have been 5 acts playing for an hour. The now eliminated policy of having one act each day play both stages started in ’99.

Any details on the Saratoga Jazz Fest Friday that is supposed to take place downtown? How do local musicians participate in that?

Please look at the 2001 lineup which had nine artists performing. The reply received is that this year’s is the same in the past. 4 on Sunday is half that list. I have attended all 40 events since the inaugural one in 1978 and this is the fewest lineup ever.

All members should have been emailed by SPAC with on-sale info.

Golden Patron +: 2/20 at 10am
Patron: 2/21 at 10am
Sponsor, Sustaining, Life: 2/23 at 10am
Associate, Friend: 2/27 at 10am
Public Onsale: 3/1 at 10am

First of all, I think the lineup looks fantastic this year, so great job on the booking!

One question: when do Jazz Fest tickets go on sale to SPAC members? Unless I’ve missed it, I’m not seeing an exact time/date and it appears they’re not on sale yet. Thanks!


Chuck seems to assume a whole bunch of things (financial trouble?!). I think the change Danny is alluding to sounds exciting. If you told me all the good southern bbq was leaving, or that you could no longer bring in your own cooler, or that security/policing would increase, or that there would be no second stage, or that the same 3 bartenders (for decades!) at the lounge were gone, or that ticket prices increased by a significant amount…..those would be some big negatives. Sounds to me like the producer is being creative while staying true to the Festival. I for one have been looking for something “new” for a few years, and I’m feeling very positive about this new plan. Also, thanks Danny for participating in this discussion board. We’re lucky to be able to connect with the person running the show. See ya this summer!

@Danny Melnick (producer)
In the current climate of ever increasing artist/entertainment expense, spending the same amount of money as in the past inevitably will result in a diminution in the quantity and quality of talent. I do not consider this as a criticism of you. You, as we all do, have limitations but as a practical matter, spending the same amount of money in the aforementioned climate is a reduction in purchasing power.

Hi Chuck – Thanks so much for your comments. Folks will still be allowed to go into the amphitheater any time they want. The “program” idea we have is gonna be very appropriate for the hang there. It’s for “you.”

And the change in programming has nothing to do with money. We FINALLY have a new stage and as a programmer, I am so excited about it. And the artists who played in early in the amphitheater saw thousands of empty seats and it wasn’t a good feeling. We are spending the same on artists as we have in the past. The 2nd “gazebo” set for the opening amphitheater has gone away, but the number of bands hasn’t changed.

We felt it was time to freshen up a few things and I’m hoping it’ll make for a better overall experience. Thanks again – DM

@ Harvey Bernard Bloomfield.
Sunday is anything but weak in my opinion . Jon Batiste playing with the Dap Kings could turn out the highlight of the weekend. The Dap Kings were Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones’s band. Gregory Porter’s baritone voice and engaging performance always delights. Mavis Staples is a legend. Her first Saratoga appearance is long overdue. TEN, an all star trio will be a special treat. Add the Jazz Discovery Stage to the mix and difficult choices will be made. An embarrassment of riches in my opinion.

@Danny Melnick (producer)
The amphitheater was serving we who were sitting on the lawn listening to the early acts and intermittently attending in the theater. I hope you are not going replace the early acts and the quiet interludes between with a lot of noise that will spoil the lawn scene that we all so love.

The other problem is that on the lawn and in the amphitheater blessed shade is available. Now you are shifting a larger portion of the entertainment into the sun blaster and oven that the Gazebo has become more and more over the recent years. That appears to be “the Discovery”. In the case of rain, the early amphitheater entertainment was also a positive.

I understand that there are financial constraints that force the reduction of overall performance slots from 23 to 21. Through last year their were 13 acts on the main stage though 2 also played the Gazebo. Therefore the actual reduction in main stage performers is from 11 to 9 while increasing the Gazebo from 10 to 12. The Gazebo has its charms for many, I hope you don’t ruin them. As far as advising Steve that it’s not the Gazebo but the Discovery Stage, my experience is that it will have to earn its name and reputation by itself. More than anything the Gazebo/Discovery area needs shade and my guess is some increased crowd control in the way of access if it is going to get as big as you imply. The beauty of the Saratoga festival for the past 34 consecutive years that I have attended is the comfort. It is not the sun blasted death march that almost every other festival presents. Change can be good and is often necessary but try not to lose the best aspects of the festival in the process.

@Danny Melnick (producer)

Awesome news! I can’t wait to hear what’s in store for those few hours. My family and I have been coming since 1999 (with a couple exceptions). I’m only 36 and this will be my 15th SPAC Jazz Fest. Many more to come. 🙂 Keep up the good work!!

@Steve V.
Hi Steve – We have the same # of artists performing as we have had for many years. The new “gazebo” stage – it’s not a gazebo anymore so we are no longer using that name – has given us an opportunity to book some “larger” groups and “bigger” artists and use it a true 2nd main stage. The amphitheater has been sparsely attended during the early hours and it wasn’t serving anyone – the artists, the audience or the festival overall. We are going to move the crafts tent a bit to create more space for the audience at the Discovery Stage and we are going to add something very cool for the first few hours of the day before the amphitheater gets going. We’ll be making that announcement soon. We are hoping this new schedule will allow the festival to have more of an exciting impact throughout the weekend. DM


Few updates – Quiana Lynell and Roland Guerin will not be with Evan Christopher. He is working on replacements now.

And the proper billing for the TEN group will just be (no Trio):

TEN: Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Nicholas Payton

Best DM

@Harvey Bernard Bloomfield
Hi Harvey – firstly, thanks for your longtime dedication to the festival. I know everyone has a million other choices. More than half of the artists this year have never performed on the festival. Lakecia Benjamin is a dynamic “smooth” R&B/soul artist who will knock everyone out. Scott Sharrard is a blazing blues guitarist who has been Gregg Allman’s lead guitarist, music director and Grammy Award nominated co-writer. Of course, Jose James singing Bill Withers is as soulful and R&B as you can get. And we are bringing back Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, who blew everyone away last year. And Pedrito Martinez is coming back with a new project – a duet with Cuban piano master Alfredo Rodriguez. These artists are all important contemporary voices in music and are becoming the next headliners. Best DM

@Joe l
Hi Joe – this is the complete line-up. We will have the same # of artists as in the past. There will be 6 sets on the newly named “Discovery” stage each day, starting at 11am (gates 10am both days now), and the amphitheater will begin at 3pm each day. We will announce, at a later date, a special new element to the festival for the hours leading up to 3pm as well. Best DM

For me this is first a weekend getaway to start the summer and I been attending since the 70’s but this time a little disappointed in the program having seen these artists in previous festivals. Sat is a strong day but in my opinion Sunday is weaker. I would have like some artist from the smooth jazz world, R & B, Blues, Latin Jazz etc

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody – We are announcing the line-up on Sunday! SPAC member tickets will be available through the rest of the month and the public on sale is March 1 at 10am at spac.org.

New $20 amphitheater ticket options are available for children ages 15 and under and students with school-issued ID at time of entrance. Lawn remains free for children ages 15 and under.

See y’all there!

Best – DM

Hey Dan. I always find time to send my best wishes to you and yours for the upcoming “HANG” 2018. I know how hard it is to please everyone. So all I say is, you haven’t let us down yet. Keep on doing your thing and I’m sure we’ll be satisfied. PEACE !!!!

Hopefully nobody will complain about the lineup when it does come out and just appreciate Danny’s hard work and balancing act. I seem to remember some were not happy last year. So far things looking great

Any jazz fest that begins with Joey Alexander and Anat Cohen is off to an excellent start, Danny. Weary of winter, we are really looking forward to June, and our favorite annual music event!

On behalf of the gang from the Rte 50 – 5:30 am crew. Big thanx for all you do Dan. You always have sumtin’ up. Just keep servin’ that “EARFOOD”.

See ya SOON !!!! PEACE !!!

Hi Friends – we are going to announce the line-up within the next 2-3 weeks. Just putting the finishing touches on a few things. Thanks for your patience and continued interest. Always means spring and summer are on the way! Best DM

@Ray Luhrs
I saw that SPAC is announcing their classical lineup (Philadelphia Orchestra) on Sunday. I haven’t seen anything about jazzfest yet though. Hopefully they announce it soon.

My wife and I saw Joey Alexander a couple of years ago in Saratoga and he was fantastic. Looking forward to seeing him perform this summer.

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