IRVINE — Richard Elliot, Keiko Matsui and Everette Harp will headline a three-day jazz festival to be held Mother's Day weekend, May 6 to 8, on two outdoor stages at the Koll Center North office complex, festival organizers announced Tuesday.
The Southern California Jazz Festival, a first-time event, will feature a mix of national and local acts on two stages, including performances by 1 + One (with Patrice Rushen and Ndugu Chancler), John Patitucci, Kilauea, Birds of a Feather (with Dan Siegel and Boney James), A.J. Croce, Brian Bromberg, Rob Mullins, Richard Smith, Nino Tempo, Pocket Change, Sonya Jason, Tony Guerrero and the Nedra Wheeler Group.
Organizer Rich Sherman acknowledged that the three-day festival is ambitious for a first-time event, but said he expects the event to make money and help build an audience for future editions of the festival.
The main goal was to offer national acts while keeping ticket prices down, Sherman said. Advance tickets for all three days are $20, with single-day tickets priced at $10 (at the gate, prices are $25 and $12, respectively).
"We knew that we couldn't jump into the $25-a-day festival market," Sherman said. "We're looking pretty good if we can draw 15,000 to 20,000 people."
Tickets for the next Playboy Jazz Festival, June 18 and 19 at the Hollywood Bowl, range from $10 to $27.50 per day. On the other hand, tickets are $10 per day for the upcoming 25th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival. That 11-day event, which draws in excess of 300,000 visitors, boasts dozens of the biggest names in jazz, blues, rock, country, gospel, folk and ethnic music.
Organizers Sherman and Eric Jensen of Ritz Entertainment were among the promoters of last year's Orange County Blues Festival in Dana Point, which was initially termed a success after drawing some 30,000 spectators with no arrests or other major incidents.
Later, however, homeowners near the Heritage Park location organized to protest the noise and crowds, and promoters revealed that the event was a financial bust. Dozens of creditors complained they had not been paid.
Sherman said that he and Jensen had been hired as marketers for last year's blues event, but are part-owners this year and will be taking a larger role in organizing the festival. Most of the creditors have accepted partial payments on their debts, he said, with the balance to be paid from the proceeds of this year's event, planned for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
Organizers are still negotiating for a new location for this year's festival, still in Dana Point but farther from residential areas.
"The biggest thing that we learned is that you can't force an event into a location, as we did there," Sherman said.
Sherman and Jensen also are organizing a country music festival, to be held in conjunction with August's Rancho Days rodeo in San Juan Capistrano. Festival information: (714) 645-1999. Tickets: (714) 740-2000 (Ticketmaster).