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The 25th Annual Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival
Presented by the River House Restaurant
Want to buy a table, reserve a blanket or order Ohana? Make your selections below:
Come experience it for yourself at the annual Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival on the Wilcox Main Stage this August, celebrating 25 years of delighting audiences of all ages and music lovers! Prescott Park Arts Festival, in partnership with Seacoast Jazz Society, bring back this annual Seacoast tradition that will feature a host of local and regional talent, celebrating the different styles of jazz. Bring your chair and blanket and let the music transform you to another era and enjoy the park under the stars!
This year’s Festival Lineup includes:
- Taylor O’Donnell Trio (12:00 pm)
- Soggy Po’ Boys (1:00 pm)
- Mark Shilansky and David Thorn Scott (2:15 pm)
- Rhythm Future Quartet (3:30 pm)
- Giuseppe Paradiso & Meridian 71 (4:45 pm)
- The Two Tuckers (6:00 pm)
- Featuring the Seacoast Big Band (7:30 pm)
- Special Appearance by Sharon Jones & Trent Austin
Table and blanket reservations are non-refundable, but can be transferred to another date in the 2021 season. General Admission Donations do not include reserved seating; they are a means to making a gate donation in advance. Table reservations seat four. Blanket reservations are placed in the blankets-only area of lawn and do not allow for chair placement.
A Brief History of the Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival
It was through my association with Dick Gallant at the Oar House in Portsmouth, NH that I became involved with the organization of the first Portsmouth Jazz Festival, which was held in 1983 on Ceres Street. The event was originally a fund raiser to benefit the Seacoast Council on Tourism. In the course of its first decade, the festival raised over 200K! Mick Goodrick and George Garzone were the headliners of the first event, with the Ted Casher quintet and Puttin’ On the Ritz also appearing. Tommy Gallant’s Press Room Trio performed as well. The festival gathered interest and support for the next 10 years, with Tommy, Jim Howe, Dave Seiler, Alan Chase and Louise Rogers from UNH all contributing input.
The Portsmouth Tourism Council, which had initially approved the Ceres St. location, changed direction in the 1990s and the Festival had to move from its Ceres St. location to Harbor Place, putting it in competition with a Blues Festival that T.J. Wheeler helped launch in 1986. When Harbor Place residents complained, the Jazz Festival moved to the site next to the Portsmouth Library now occupied by the new Middle School on Parrott Ave. In 1995, the last year of the Portsmouth Jazz Festival, the featured artists were drummer Louis Bellson, trumpeter Clark Terry, and the New York Voices, but without solid support from the City of Portsmouth and uncertain of a location to hold the event, it looked for a while that the Jazz Festival mght be doomed for extinction.
Other currents were flowing in the jazz community, however, and the Seacoast Jazz Society (SJS), formed in 1990, took up the reins with some assistance from the music faculty at UNH. Dave Seiler and Tommy Gallant approached George Hosker, administrator of the Prescott Park foundation at the time, to set aside a Sunday in the Arts Festival schedule each summer for a Jazz Festival, and the SJS voted to provide financial support and oversee the Festival as a non-profit operation funded by donations, an arrangement which has functioned successfully to this day.
The first Seacoast Jazz Festival happened on the same date originally scheduled for the old Portsmouth Jazz Festival, Sunday June 30th, 1996. Headliners that year were clarinetist Billy Novick with Jimmy Mazzy, Mark Shane and Marshall Wood; Luciana Souza, Brazilian vocalist with Mark Shilansky, piano, Andrew Rathbun, tenor sax, Fernando Huergo, bass, and Bertram Lehmann, drums; the Seacoast Big Band with Dick Johnson, and the Tom Gallant Trio with Herb Pomeroy and Fred Haas. In 1999, after the passing of Seacoast piano legend Tommy Gallant, the Seacoast Jazz Society Board voted to rename the festival in his memory, and all subsequent events have been called the Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival, as it remains to this day.
The mission of the SJS, as many of you know, is to promote an understanding of and enthusiasm for jazz, and provide opportunities for listeners, students, and performers to hear jazz and to learn about its history and techniques. To further these aims the SJS organizes a regular jazz listening and discussion group, presents an annual lecture series, sends a regular email newsletter of upcoming local jazz events, supports guest artists at local jazz venues, and partners with other jazz