Eau Claire Jazz Festival plans to see five thousand people between all the jazz events

Barstow will be transformed into the historic 52nd Street at this year’s festival

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



People can get involved with Jazz Fest by attending a concert, clinic or a combination of both over the upcoming weekend.

Every year, 48 hours in Eau Claire are dedicated to one classic style of music.

Bringing in well-known musicians, educating aspiring players and entertaining the community —  these two days of events were the reason some students decided to come to UW-Eau Claire.

Eau Claire Jazz Festival, coordinated by Eau Claire Jazz Inc., will be recognizing 51 years of the festival this year, and as part of the weekend programming, it welcomes Doc Severinsen and Carl Allen as headliners for the weekend.

The two musicians are well-known in the jazz realm, as Severinsen lead the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show and shook up jazz by adopting new techniques and rhythms. Allen, more of a classical jazz player, was the artistic director for the Juilliard School for five years and recorded more than five CDs showcasing his work.

Allen was born in Milwaukee, and in addition to his jazz work, he is also active in the business world. He is the founder of Nella Productions among other endeavors, which educates and runs jazz workshops around the world.

Dominic Domeyer, a senior music education student and project manager for Eau Claire Jazz Festival, said the organization forms an intersection with the university and the community, as the festival hosts university music groups as well as community jazz ensembles.

“Community involvement is a big reason Eau Claire has the jazz festival be what it is today,” Domeyer said. “The great thing to me about Eau Claire jazz is the community coming together to support something.”

Although last year’s festival was the 50th anniversary and a bigger deal said Gweni Smith, a junior organizational communications student and festival director, there are two additional 52nd Street venues this year.

The Lakely and The Dive, within the Oxbow Hotel and The Lismore, will now take part in Eau Claire Jazz Festival, contributing to the group of 16 total venues on 52nd Street, or Barstow Street’s nickname for the festival.

Throughout the year, around 12 students have interned with Eau Claire Jazz Inc. coordinating the events — approximately 200 during the two-day festival.

“I believe very strongly that it’s (jazz music) is a reflection of the American spirit in a lot of ways, and it’s more than other art forms,” Domeyer said, “There’s a democratic process involved with people coming together. Oftentimes you may not have even played together before and come and make something special together.”

The festival also hosts competitions, which range from middle school ensembles to larger college bands competing for the opportunity to play at the Friday or Saturday headline concert. Depending on their performance as interpreted by a judge, an ensemble could advance to the final round and qualify for the headline concert.

Awards given out at the festival include the Outstanding Soloist award, which is given out to one soloist from each performing class selected at the end of the day.

In addition, the Excellence in Jazz Education Award applies to the clinics, which are conducted throughout the weekend, and whichever school has 95 percent of their students attending three or more clinics will receive this recognition. This award also gives the opportunity for schools to win a new instrument if they have 65 percent of students attending three or more clinics.

“What we are seeing now is it just becomes part of the Eau Claire culture,” Domeyer said. “It’s a piece of Eau Claire.”

Information about the lineups and the festival itself can be found on the Eau Claire Jazz Festival website.