On August 23, 2015, North Long Beach hosted its 4th Annual Uptown Latin Jazz & Blues Festival, made possible by Long Beach City Councilmember Rex Richardson. The atmosphere was lively and fun, as attendees bonded over a love of music and enjoyed live entertainment.
The Uptown Latin Jazz & Blues Fest brought the entire community out in full force. Throughout the day, people showed up in droves to support local vendors and artists who had much to say about the significance of the event.
One of the most stand-out performers was The Brown Suede Experience & Tiara Monet, a four year-old band based in Long Beach. When asked what kind of advice they would provide to young artists who hope to be in their position one day, they responded with, “Don’t limit yourself. You are a unique individual and you have something to bring to the table.” They also had encouraging words for Rex Richardson. “Without Rex, this would be an empty park. Thank you for giving us a platform to showcase our skills.”
The next thrilling performance came from Box Car 7, a seven-piece show band from Southern California. Scott Griffith, the lead singer, delivered an engaging set of riveting jams that brought the crowd to their feet. The dynamic group came together 5 years after noticing that there was a void in the Long Beach music scene. Wanting to provide “that big wall of sound” to the people, Box Car 7 has performed at the Uptown Jazz Fest for the last 4 years since its inaugural year. In appreciation for their continued involvement, Rex Richardson awarded them with the Long Beach City Commemoration.
Soon after, the following act forced everyone to hit the dance floor: DW3. DW3, an R&B, funk and contemporary urban jazz powerhouse, came to give everyone in Houghton park a show. They delivered flawless mash-ups ranging from Frankie Beverly & Maze to Jidenna’s Classic Man and left the audience begging for more. Also a veteran Jazz Fest performer, DW3’s Eric Mondragon was grateful to Rex for putting this on and is looking forward to playing next year. For their contributions, they also received a certificate of recognition from Long Beach City and Rex Richardson!
The host for the day, Nautica De la Cruz, a radio personality from KJLH (102.3), came out to North Long Beach to show some love. She said that she loves the way that communities are being rebuilt throughout Long Beach and appreciates how events like the Uptown Jazz Fest uplift the spirits of the people. She mentioned that this year’s event was a huge success and predicted that the fifth annual is going to be even bigger.
Tito Puente Jr., the headliner of the event who flew all the way from Miami, is the son of legendary Mambo musician, Tito Puente. He carried on his father's legacy by presenting much of his father's repertoire through his performances and recordings. Tito Puente Jr. lured everyone to the dance floor to perform their best mambo.
The 4th Annual Uptown Latin Jazz & Blues Festival was a huge success. After a full day of dancing, music, and fun, Rex Richardson waved everyone goodbye and vowed to do everything in his power to bring back this marvelous event to the city of Long Beach.
Check out a FULL Storify of the whole day here of the day’s best tweets.
All photos were taken by Makiah Green.