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Jam Fest songs from DeLeon Plaza lure crowd into downtown (video)

By JR Ortega
April 19, 2013 at 11:05 p.m.
Updated April 19, 2013 at 11:20 p.m.

Rachel Jayson warms up and tunes her viola before the start of Jam Fest at the gazebo in DeLeon plaza on Friday. Jayson played in both Jaggery and Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys at the festival.

Downtown Victoria could easily have been confused for a chilly Friday night in the mid-1900s.

The white gazebo sitting at the center of DeLeon Plaza returned to its roots as a bandstand as Victoria artist Joe Reyna took the stage for the opening of Jam Fest.

Two other bands out of Boston - Jaggery as well as Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys - also pumped life into downtown.

Joe Alvarado, 46, sat on a bench with his wife, daughter and granddaughter, not sure what to expect but glad that downtown is becoming alive again.

"Downtown has really been coming up lately, and I want to be part of it," said Alvarado as the bands performed a sound check.

Alvarado grew up in Victoria and remembers the days in the '90s when there would be street dances in downtown. Not only would he like to see that return, but he'd also like to see more come.

As for Jam Fest, he was happy to hear the sounds of something different.

"I listen to all music, so everything is good for me," he said.

This variety is exactly what the coordinators of Jam Fest were hoping for, said Jona Anderson, who heads up entertainment for the event.

The festival, which started about 10 years ago as Jazz Fest, has since changed not only names but also its purpose.

Music has always been its goal, but this year was a chance to collaborate with the community by bringing films through the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival and Market Days, just to name a few things, Anderson said.

"We don't get to hear these sounds, especially in South Texas," Anderson said. "It's really our version of an opportunity to collaborate with other entities in Victoria."

Reyna, who opened for the bands, was proud to be part of the festival this year.

He has promoted Jam Fest via social media and said these performances allow artists to leave something behind.

"It's about elevating creativity and to know that it's all right to create, and there is a place where it can be showcased here in your hometown," Reyna said.

Jennifer McAngus sat on a bench with her husband and son, longing for something different in town. Others were sprinkled throughout the plaza - some on the floor bundled in blankets, others standing, sipping drinks.

McAngus said she wants to be part of downtown and thinks events such as Jam Fest really help promote that.

"We're really excited about the potential here," she said. "You can tell that the leaders are really trying to do some very entertaining and neat things."



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