The History Of Jazz At The Lake
Sylvan Lake has a rich musical history, much greater in scope than its relatively small, but rapidly growing, population would seem to warrant. The legendary days of the Varsity Hall with its travelling Alberta and Canadian bands are warmly remembered by many in the community. The town has fostered some of the country’s best jazz artists. Two time Juno Award winner P.J. Perry, one of the finest saxophonists in the country, hails from Sylvan Lake. The late, great Senator Tommy Banks, a world class jazz musician is also a well known source of pride to the area. International jazz recording artist Cheryl Fisher claims her roots in Sylvan and has a home there still.
This is a festival that commemorates a tradition of live music, family fun and cultural awareness that has been ongoing in this community since World War II. There were three operating Dance Halls in this community at one time and it was a hub for live music and dancing for both military bases in Calgary, Edmonton and all surrounding areas. The Varsity Hall was still in operation until the 1960’s providing live entertainment in the Town.
The Jazz At The Lake Festival Society is made up of like-minded community spirited individuals from civic, business, and artistic enterprises that saw the need and the unique opportunity to create a jazz festival that would offer live music in a beautiful setting, and in so doing, positively add to the cultural landscape of central Alberta.
We started with $5,000 and a handful of events in 2003. We now have 3 days with a dozen plus performances and a five figure budget. The astounding success of this festival is due in great part to the volunteers, the expertise of the board members and the knowledge and the contacts of the festival producers. We are fortunate enough to have producers who are working international musicians that continue to perform on both sides of the stage. The support of our community includes the Town, local and regional businesses and provincial arts funding agencies. The combination of all the above components has proved the necessary impetus to bring the Jazz At The Lake Festival to critical mass.
It is our mandate in our 17th consecutive year to have the festival provide a continuing venue for jazz performers of the highest quality, thereby enhancing Sylvan Lake’s historic tradition of live music, cultural awareness and family fun for Albertans of all ages; and to expand the awareness of, and provide performance venues for, musicians and students involved in the arts communities and the numerous music programs in our community. But above all, our mandate is to………HAVE FUN!