Seabreeze Jazz Festival A Swinging Success

by April 20, 2009 • 6 comments

An amber sun sets on Panama City Beach and I watch two couples, vacationers from Mobile, Alabama, dance amid hundreds of others in the Seabreeze Jazz Festival attendance. It is their second day at the event and the energy from the first day hasn’t waned at all. Around them, vendor booths selling artwork, food, wine and music make a halo around the Pier Park’s outdoor amphitheater. Creamy jazz rhythms saturate the air. From where I stand, the couples are having a wonderful time, as is everyone else. Reluctant to interrupt their fun, I stopped and asked them what they thought about the festival. One of the husbands, still dancing, shouted back to me, “Ya’ll should do this kind of stuff more often. This is the most fun I’ve ever had in Panama City.”


Nick Colionne at the 2009 Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Pier Park Panama City Beach from Jason Koertge on Vimeo.

That was the scene at this weekend’s Seabreeze Jazz festival held at Pier Park. If you missed this it, you missed on heck of an event. The place was packed, the food was delicious and the music intoxicated everyone in the amphitheater. Hosted by internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist Nick Colionne, the event featured some of the most skilled jazz musicians in the world. The likes of Eric Darius, Boney James, Wayman Tisdale, Will Downing, Althea Rene, Warren Hill, Joyce Cooling and others hit Panama City Beach like a silk-covered bomb. From the start of the event until the end the music was just outstanding; without doubt the best you’ll ever hear live in one sitting. Singers, Guitarists, Saxophonists, Fluotists–you name it, they rocked it. The attendance was stratospheric; not an empty patch of grass anywhere. And best of all, the artists loved being on Panama City Beach.

“The Seabreeze Jazz Festival is at the top of my list because the people here are so receptive; they come out to hear the music,” said Nick Colionne, “The people here are beautiful, everyone has been so nice to all the artists.  I look forward to coming back next year.”

So the question remains, was the Seabreeze Jazz Festival a success? Well, that depends on the lens with which you view success. If you view success by sheer number of people, then the Seabreeze Jazz Festival was a smashing success. Pier Park had no parking, which is quite a statement being that Simon works hard on providing that service so close to the shore. People were everywhere; in the amphitheater, around the mall, in the streets—everywhere!

If you judge success by the festival’s economic impact, well, by that standard, the event was a success as well. I don’t know about you, but to me, the traffic on the beach felt awful “summer-y” as did the waits at restaurants and the lines in the shopping centers. Mind you, the Zap Pro Skim Jam and the UCA Cheerleading Camp aided in filling the beach, but the crowds seemed to stretch from one end of the beach to the other and that spells dollars for most the businesses on the beach.

So was this year’s Seabreeze Jazz Festival a success? Well, there’s one other way to view success. For me, the degree of the event’s success manifested itself in the two couples who danced on our beach until the stars came out. They decided on a vacation to Panama City Beach and, as the man said, it was the most fun they’ve ever had. That’s success.

Tip-of-the-hat to all the people involved in bringing the Seabreeze Jazz Festival to Panama City Beach. It was a blast. You guys did a great job.

I have to give a shout out to our good buddy Arlene Froeming.  Thanks to her and her generosity in loaning me a sweet telephoto lens, we had the ability to produce some stunning close-ups.  She does some freelance photography and can be found here.

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1 Trey Hutt April 21, 2009 at 9:29 am

I always love this event and was thrilled to hear that it was moving closer to home. Communication, however, was poor, and I think that could be improved. My time there fell victim to a “no glass” rule. Had I known ahead of time, I’d have worked it out, but jazz fest without a bottle of wine is a sin against nature. Next year I’ll be ready.

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2 john rickman April 22, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Jason…great video and coverage of the Seabreeze Jazz Fest….that Nick Colionne is something else! What a great artist, what a great fest. Thanks for the great coverage. Let’s hope they bring Nick back again next year.

Hey, I recognize that guy in the gold shirt – that’s none other than Rock Legend Jim Peterik….who wrote the Theme from Rocky – Eye of the Tiger and Vehicle….

Can’t wait till next year. Pier Park was a great setting for this event.

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3 mary May 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm

the seabreeze jazz fest was super! great musicians & artists, wonderful setting, great event for all!

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4 Bonita Paige May 6, 2009 at 10:42 am

The Seabreeze Jazz Festival once again was FANTASTIC!!!! All of the artists were superb! This is the type of crowd I love to hang with. 🙂 The venue was a great place to have this fesitval. Food, shopping, music and shopping. Thanks PCB!!

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5 Stephanie November 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm

This was my third time attending the Seabreeze Festival, and I must say it keeps getting better and better. How about Althea Renee, she certainly injected some new adrenaline into the festival. Hopefully, she will be back. I have a dilemna, and I am hoping someone can help me out. I made a purchase from one of the awesome vendors who sold handmade bags. He gave me a business card which I can not locate. His signature is on the bag, but I can only make out his first name which is Stuart. The last name begins with a Mc…. I have received so many compliments on my bag, that I would like to purchase more before the jazz festival next year. Can someone please help a sista!!

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6 BestWicklessCandles June 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

I love jazz, I wish I could have been there. Maybe next year.

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