Smooth Jazz at South Shore
The Midwest’s Premier Jazz Event
By Barbara Voris Eastman
On the 20th of August, jazz enthusiasts—more than 3000 of them—will embark on their annual pilgrimage to Michigan City for the 6th annual Smooth Jazz at South Shore concert at the Guy Foreman Amphitheatre in Washington Park. People come from all over to attend what has become one of the largest Smooth Jazz events in the Midwest, and one that attracts some of the most popular recording artists in contemporary jazz.
Headlining this year’s concert are #1 Billboard artists, The Sax Pack, which is made up of three sax players who record independently and together: Jeff Kashawa, Steve Cole and Kim Waters. Opening for The Sax Pack is Darren Rahn, a #1 Billboard artist sax player, and Nate Harasim, a renowned keyboard player. So, how is it that artists of this caliber are willing to play in a small Indiana town?
It Began with One Man’s Dream
Several years ago, while sitting on the bluff in St. Joseph, Michigan and enjoying the Smooth Jazz at Sunset concert, Michigan City native, Bernie Scott was asked by his wife, Joy, “Why can’t we have something like this in Michigan City?” Bernie saw no reason why his hometown would not support a similar event. If top musicians were willing to perform in St. Joseph, why not in Michigan City?
Assembling a Team
By the time he got home that evening he was very excited and had made it his personal mission to bring Smooth Jazz to Michigan City. Within days he called a long-time friend, Sharee Morse, who owns Morse & Company Advertising in Michigan City (full disclosure here—Morse & Company is the publisher of www.thebeachcoast.com). Sharee agreed with Bernie that it was a great idea and said she’d be willing to help market the concert, providing they could get “buy-in” from Chuck Oberlie, Mayor of Michigan City, and other community leaders.
The mayor supported the idea, but knew that pulling it off would require a large investment from the community and he was a little skeptical about whether the locals would embrace the event. Bernie had a few ideas about that. He felt that if a portion of the proceeds benefited local charities, people would feel a sense of ownership and come out—if for no other reason—to support their favorite charity and further economic development of the lakeshore.
Help from Experts
An avid jazz fan, Bernie’s next move was to contact Steve Stiles, who was program director of jazz station WNUA in Chicago. He spoke many times with Steve and asked what steps he should take to ensure the success of the event. Steve was generous with his time and ideas and Bernie did everything Steve suggested—local and national corporate funding being a top priority.
Benefiting Local Charities
Bernie hand selected the
three local charities that would become beneficiaries of proceeds from the
concert: Stepping Stone Shelter
for Women, Sand Castle Shelter for Children and Families, and the La Porte
County chapter of the American Red Cross. Monies from Smooth Jazz at South Shore help these organizations provide
necessary services to the people of La Porte County.
If Bernie Scott has anything to say about it, Smooth Jazz at South Shore will continue to grow in prestige, attendees, quality of talent, and the dollars it brings to the deserving charities it benefits and to participating Michigan City food and drink vendors. What started as one man’s dream has evolved into a great event enjoyed by thousands. Bernie could not have done it without the support of friends and community leaders and, of course, the jazz lovers who come back, year after year, for a great night of music on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Guy Foreman Amphitheatre
6 on the Lake
Michigan City, IN
LaPorte County Chapter of the American Red Cross
Morse and Company Advertising Communications, Inc
631 Pine Street
Michigan City, IN
The City of Michigan City
The Stepping Stone Shelter for Women, Inc.
Sandcastle Shelter for Homeless Children and Families
1005 W. 8th Street
Michigan City, IN 46360
SmoothJazzNow.com - WNUA 95.5
Barbara Voris Eastman grew up in Michigan City and moved back to the area after spending nearly 35 years working in Chicago. She is both the editor and a regular contributor to www.thebeachcoast.com®.