Westsylvania Jazz & Blues Festival – 5.23.15 – Indiana, PA

The Westsylvania Jazz & Blues Festival took place on Saturday out in Indiana, PA.  The weather was perfect and the festival was free.  So my family and I packed up and made the one hour drive northeast to Indiana.

The festival started early in the day but we didn’t make it out there until around 6:00, just in time to catch some of Elevations’ set.  I’ve seen and posted about Elevations a couple of times before and I was interested in this performance.  For this set, they featured vibraphonist/pianist Warren Wolf as sort of a fill-in for pianist Brett Williams. Williams, who was posting from Thailand on his Instagram page just about a week ago, has been touring the world with bassist Marcus Miller and I was pretty sure he was not going to be performing with Elevations in Indiana, PA last night.  Brett is amazing and I knew Elevations wouldn’t be the same without him.  But I’ve never seen Warren Wolf and the vibraphone is one of my favorite instruments, so I was excited. The half of the set that I saw was pretty straight forward jazz with even some vocals thrown in.  It wasn’t quite as adventurous or as cookin’ as past performances, but that is to be expected somewhat at a free event like this. But they sounded great and I was really glad that I made it there in time to see them. Here’s a video of the last song of their set.

Michael Stephenson – tenor sax
Benny Benack III – trumpet
Anton DeFade – bass
George Heid III – drums
Warren Wolf – vibraphone, electric piano

The headliners for the night were British instrumental funk quartet, The New Mastersounds.  This would be just my second time seeing these guys.  The first time was back in October of last year at the Rex Theater in Pittsburgh.  This set turned out to be just as upbeat and funky as the show at the Rex with plenty of people dancing and just having a great time.  The crowd was surprisingly small for this, but I’m not going to complain about seeing The New Mastersounds on a perfect Spring day with only a couple hundred people!  It turns out that they will back for another show at the Rex on June 18th.

After the show, there was some talk of the guys from the Mastersounds showing up at some of the late night shows at a few of the local bars.  I would have LOVED to have stayed for that and in my younger days I would have been all over it.  But, we packed up and made the long drive home that included almost being rear ended by a giant black pickup truck and also coming within inches of hitting a deer!  So overall, it was a great night, but I was very glad to be home.


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