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Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Swan City Jazz Fest Offered Hot Tunes Despite Cool Weather

by James Coulter

Rick Runion has loved jazz ever since he was little. He played in band through college and even in the US Navy in the military band for four years. Since he moved to Florida, he has been playing gigs on the weekends.

Last weekend, Runion had the opportunity to play saxophone at the Third Annual Swan City Jazz Fest, hosted at the Kathleen High School Auditorium. He had previously played at the annual event with his band, but decided to play solo this year.

“I love the fact that I get to communicate with other people my love of jazz,” he said. I think the fact that we had to move indoors is great. I am disappointed we had to move our event indoors. But that is okay. We have a good location. This is an awesome place.”

For the past three years, the Swan City Jazz Festival has drawn attendees together for a weekend of hot jazz tunes. This year’s event included performances by headline artists Julian Vaughn and Lannie Battistini. Other performances were hosted by Olyvya Wells, Just The 2 Of Us, Dimas Sanchez, Philip “Jazz Dad” Thomas, Shawn Brown, and the Valerie Gillispie Ensemble.

Originally, this year’s jazz festival was going to be hosted at its regular venue at Munn Park in Downtown Lakeland. However, due to cold weather, the event had to be moved indoors to the auditorium at Kathleen High School. Despite the sudden change of location, the turnout proved good, especially due to the event’s reputation for hosting top-tier talent.

“The artists are top tier, and the crowd loves top tier,” said Lisa Kirk, event coordinator. “There are three things that bring people of diverse backgrounds together: great music, great people, and great sports. I love seeing people sway to the beat.”

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Staff Reporter

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