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Fresh Coast Jazz Festival announces lineup, return of hometown contest

Fresh Coast Jazz Festival

The Fresh Coast Jazz Festival has been at it for a few years now, bringing some of the genre’s biggest talents to Milwaukee while also distributing much-needed financial support to causes from music programs to medical research. That’ll continue in 2024, as will the twist they added last year that really emphasizes the “Fresh” part of the fest.

For the second time, the multi-day music celebration will team up with Nō Studios and Podcast Town on the Hometown All-Stars Showcase — a competition to uncover Milwaukee’s best jazz act.

“There is a lot of phenomenal talent in Milwaukee. We’re excited to give one of those local acts a chance to perform on the same stage as some of the best contemporary jazz artists in the world,” Fresh Coast Jazz Festival CEO Carl Brown said, referring to the lineup that’ll fill this year’s three-day festival:

Thursday, Aug. 22 | 6 p.m.

  • Marcus Adams and Dee Lucas, performing the music of Grover Washington Jr. at “The Pairing,” a concert and wine tasting at The Fitzgerald featuring pairings from the Napa Valley region.

Friday, Aug. 23 | 6 p.m.

  • 12-time Grammy nominee Kirk Whalum.
  • Flautist Kim Scott.
  • Nathan Mitchell, the 2023 Seabreeze Jazz Festival Rising Star and an artist whose recent release was up for a 2023 Grammy award.
  • New Zealander Ryan LaValette, one of only four artists in Billboard history to have his first four singles — all from debut album New Beginnings — reach No. 1.

Saturday, Aug. 23 | 6 p.m.

  • Contemporary jazz superstar Boney James.
  • Quintin Gerard W and Lemek, the first father/son in the history of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart to hold the No. 1 and 2 spots at the same time (a feat they accomplished twice in 2023).
  • New Zealand guitarist and vocalist Andréa Lisa (check out her song, “Vortex”).

The Friday and Saturday concerts will both take place at the Pabst Theater. Also on Saturday, Lucas will provide the soundtrack to the Fresh Coast Cruise, which boards at 12:40 p.m. and sets sail at 1 p.m.

As for the Hometown All-Star Showcase, that actually starts right now. Anyone interested in being considered needs to submit their electronic press kits (must include performances of two songs) to this online portal no later than May 10. The top five will then perform a 20-minute set at Nō Studios on June 28 in front of a live audience (tickets here) and a panel of judges who will pick the winner. The prize package includes:

  • $1,000 and a commemorative trophy
  • Tickets to the festival
  • A festival performance slot at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24

If you want to be there for the Hometown All-Star’s show or any of the events happening across the three days, you can pick up tickets (and find other helpful info) on the Fresh Coast Jazz Festival website.