Iowa City Jazz Festival, July 2 and 3


Friday July 2 and Saturday July 3

Downtown Iowa City AI

A Grammy-winning drummer, Broadway trombonist and many other national and local artists will celebrate Independence Day weekend in style with the July 2-3 return of the Iowa City Jazz Festival , the 30th anniversary edition of the nationally acclaimed Summer of the Arts Festival taking place in the city’s Ped Mall and on South Clinton Street.

The party begins July 2 at 4:30 p.m. with Schoolhouse Jazz, presented by KCCK Jazz Radio. For more than 20 years, Schoolhouse Jazz has introduced kids around the Iowa City hallway to the musical genre with fast-paced, interactive shows that incorporate live music, storytelling and movement, and for the festival of jazz in Iowa City, children and their parents are invited to get up and dance with the Schoolhouse Jazz group. Friday’s live music events continue with the NOLA Jazz Band from Des Moines at 6:30 p.m. and conclude at 8:10 p.m. with a performance by Big Fun, a band fronted by Steve Grismore, the festival’s original soundman.

Saturday’s lineup will begin at 11:30 a.m. on the Clinton Street Main Stage with the United Jazz Ensemble, followed by a set with the North Corridor Jazz All Stars at 12:15 p.m. The United Jazz Ensemble brings together high school students from the city, West and Liberty High Schools in Iowa City, while the North Corridor All Stars does the same for the northern part of the I-380 corridor, recruiting top high school musicians from Cedar Rapids to Cedar Falls. This is the 10th anniversary appearance of the North Corridor All Stars, as the United Jazz Ensemble have opened the festival every year since 1993.

On stage at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Giveton Gelin and Immanuel Wilkins, the 2020 and 2021 winners of the LetterOne Rising Stars Jazz Prize. And the festival’s main stage events conclude with performances by Bonegasm at 6 p.m. and Grammy-nominated jazz guitarist Cory Wong at 8 p.m. just released the outfit’s second album “Not A Novelty”. Jazz artist Twin Cities Wong, meanwhile, has found his 2020 album meditations (recorded with recent Oscar winner Jon Batiste) marking a Grammy nod for Best New Age Album, Wong’s repertoire also includes nine solo studio albums.

“For me, it all comes down to the experience of the listener,” Wong explains. “I want them to have a visceral response like, ‘I feel better,’ ‘That was really fun,’ or ‘I was able to escape for an hour.’ You’ll hear my voice through the guitar, but I’m just a hype man Uplifting the audience with instrumental music without vocals or lyrics is a fun challenge I’m trying to solve the riddle If I can make that ‘a person feels good this way is a success.

In addition to the main stage events, a second stage at the Iowa City Jazz Festival on Saturday will feature some of the hallway’s top local musicians. At 1 p.m., Bad News from Northern Iowa University takes the stage, followed by a 3 p.m. set with the Peterson-Thaker Quartet. At 5 p.m., local saxophonist and new University of Iowa visiting professor Jim Buennig performs, then the local stage lineup will wrap up with a 7 p.m. performance by Wave Cage, an ensemble comprised of musicians that explore the intersection of jazz composition and electronic textures.

The 30th anniversary of the Iowa City Jazz Festival will conclude with a city-hosted fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. on July 3, and more information about the weekend is available by visiting

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Henry R. Wright