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Jam On: Fine arts group shares love of culture, music, art

Aug. 30, 2014 at 3:18 p.m.
Updated Sept. 1, 2014 at 2:48 p.m.

Victoria West student and VISD Orchestra member Elizabeth Caldwell, center, plays in a workshop hosted by the cello rock group Break of Reality at the VISD Arts Center in Victoria. "It was so much fun," Caldwell said. "I think I can take what they taught us about the rock style and put it into other styles of music."

The fourth annual Jam Fest kicks off April 18 in downtown Victoria.

The free, all-day festival celebrates culture, art and music, and features performances by Green River Ordinance, Sonny Wolf, Hot Texas Swing Band and more.

The full Jam Fest lineup, complete with a two-stage, hour-by-hour schedule, will be announced later this year, as well as the interactive events, art exhibits, street vendors and South Texas-inspired food fare.

Event Chairwoman Robin Janecka, of the Victoria Fine Arts Association, said the festival is steadily growing and expanding each year to reach more of the Crossroads.

"People are getting to know what JAM Fest is all about," Janecka said. "Our main mission is to bring the arts to Victoria in the form of music, visual and performing arts."

With painters, sculptors and musicians on board, Janecka said the upcoming festival blends culture and education to make the festival accessible and enjoyable to all ages.

Headlining the festival is Green River Ordinance, a Fort Worth-based pop band who wrote the songs on their first EP "Chasing Down the Wind" on the banks of the Caney Fork River in Tennessee. The album features the group's honest songwriting, soaring harmonies and desire to enjoy the simple things in life.

Sonny Wolf, an Austin transplant from Montreal, fuses brash rockabilly with America's purest homegrown blues.

The Hot Texas Swing Band, based in Austin, puts on high-energy shows with dynamic arrangements that blend strings, horns and Texas fiddle.

Admission to the festival is free, but tickets to the VIP tent go on sale later this year and typically cost about $65, Janecka said.

Those willing to splurge for VIP credentials can enjoy special festival privileges, which include drinks, a full buffet and a prime spot to take in the festival.

Last year's Jam Fest raised the bar by bringing in Break of Reality, a nationally-touring cello group that specializes in infusing rock 'n' roll with classical style, and Carolyn Wonderland, an Austin-based blues guitarist, JB and the Moonshine Band and Raven Cliff.

Ivan Trevino, the percussionist in Break of Reality, said in an earlier interview that their goal is to inspire young classical musicians to think outside the box.

"It's about enlightenment — like learning another language," Trevino, who grew up in Victoria, said.

Festival-goers capped off the night with a downtown crawl that included a DJ set, the Victoria College jazz combo and commercial music and others.

Down at the festival grounds, people enjoyed film screenings, pottery demonstrations, a magician, children's crafts and a canvas for a collaborative community painting.

"Art is part of our society, and it makes you a well-rounded person," Janecka said. "It enhances your life."

Although the festival's original intent was to feature jazz music, Janecka said it's morphed into a broader event that appeals to a cross-section of the community.

It's something for everyone, Janecka said.

"It brings together all different cultures and interests," she said. "If you're interested in a particular genre of music, we're going to have it."

The festival is organized by the Victoria Fine Arts Association, which has been sharing art, music and culture in the area since 1946.

For more than 65 years, the Victoria Fine Arts Association has hosted premiere events aimed at providing cultural opportunities to the citizens of Victoria and the surrounding cities. The Victoria Fine Arts Association continues its mission to be a leader in the development and appreciation of the performing arts.



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