What first started as a neighborhood event has now become an event with over 10,000+ people in attendance and more expected this year. There are over 40 events planned throughout the week and lots of programming throughout the year. Riverview Jazz Festival attracts amazing talent and lovers of music from both near and far.
When the event first started, it was in a little section of Riverview-Fisk Park cornered off. Now the event compasses the entire park and has used Holland Street in the past (now under construction). There is a market, food vendors, and music for all tastes. The best part is that you get to look out across Hoboken and the Hudson River to an amazing skyline view of New York City. (This park also holds the Riverview Farmer's Market, Live on the Palisades, and many other events.)
Riverview Jazz Festival is a really great late spring event - with the weather always being perfect to grab your friends, lay out a blanket, have a picnic, and just hang out. Normally with events like this we see the neighborhood and a little farther out, but with the main event at Riverview-Fisk Park, we see so many new faces getting a taste of The Heights and why the residents here love it (myself included).
The 6th annual Riverview Jazz Fest is June 9 and we wanted to share their story with you. We sat down with Bryan Beninghove, one of the organizers, to share the great programming the produce, how the event got started, and where you can find all the information.
How did the idea of Riverview Jazz fest come about?
The Riverview Jazz Festival began in 2012 as a neighborhood event. Will Tatz, an active community member, enlisted my help in gathering bands to play in Riverview Fisk Park. It was a modest event, but the potential was enormous. Many world-class musicians live in the area and the view is unparalleled.
How has it evolved?
The event has grown from a concert in the park to a 40+ event week-long celebration of music. There are now many active partners and sponsors, hundreds of musicians performing. There are more participating venues each year and we have tremendous support. It’s really become its own thing.
How many years has it been happening?
This will be the 6th Annual event.
How do you pick the bands to perform?
Margo Parks and I try to think about what would make a great event. We concentrate more on creating a cohesive vibe, taking the surroundings into consideration, and try to give a little something for everyone. With the amount of talent in the area, quality of musicianship is never in short supply.
Do people now reach out to you?
It’s great. A few years ago it was difficult getting through to the right people to speak with. Now with our track record, we are already on people’s radar. Organizationally it really helps to have a reputation. As far as artists go, we receive many submissions.
You get people from all over coming to the big event on Saturday from the beginning? What do you think makes your programming special to bring in that kind of crowd?
I think people can expect a real relaxing family event with great music. There is no pressure to sit still like you’re in a small club and there are many different styles of jazz being performed. We are not pushing any type of musical agenda except for quality and respect. I think that relaxed vibe really resonates with the casual listener. And if you’re a hard-core jazz fan, there will be plenty to dig on too.
What can we expect from the event this year?
40+ Events of great music!
New this year is our Riverview Kickoff sponsored by Exchange Place Alliance. We will be doing a takeover of the Exchange Place pier and surrounding walkway with what should be a damn good party! There will be a marching brass band (led by Andrae Murchison), buskers everywhere honking away, a ZT Amplifiers jazz guitar showcase (feat. Dave Stryker, Vic Juris, and Charlie Apicella), a Psycho-Mambo band (Gato Loco), g salsa music by Johnny Rodriguez Dream Team, and DJ Prestige spinning the wax.
Also new this year will be our Skyline Stage on June 9. We are building a stage behind the gazebo at Riverview-Fisk Park that will turn the hill into an amphitheatre and give an amazing view of the skyline. We have some real quality acts this year that we are can’t wait to check out ourselves: Doug Beaver Salsa Orchestra, Wallace Roney and Friends, Lakecia Benjamin and Soul Squad, Winard Harper, Rob Curto’s Forro for All, Brian Charrette’s Kürrent, Walter Parks Spirituals Reimagined, and Andrea Brachfield and Insight. A lot of different styles represented and some great outdoor music.
How many people have you had the past years and what numbers do you expect this year?
Last year we had about 10,000 attendees throughout the week and we expect to see an increase on that number.
How can people get in involved throughout the year?
We do need more volunteers!! Please visit www.RiverviewJazz.org to see how you can help.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We have an amazing VIP experience (scroll and look on the right - 2 options) for June 9. It helps raise money for this free event and it’s a great way to enjoy the festival. Please see our website for details.
Photography provided by Alexis Rotter Photography