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The Ins & Outs: Countdown to the Festival on the Green

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a blog about music, visual arts, entertainment and everything in between
by tamara hilmes, intern

ray vega
What with only 10 days left until the Festival kick-off, it's time to get down to business. As per my previous two Countdown posts, my goal this week will again be to highlight how diverse this week-long festival really is. To refresh your memory, we've taken a look at alternative bluegrass, and eclectic world fushion--now, on to jazz. Yes, jazz. As many of you already know, each year the Festival on the Green hosts a big band dance extravaganza all up and down Main Street, set to the brassy and suave sounds of the Vermont Jazz Ensemble. The 17-member group will be making an appearance again this year (they have been performing in the Festival since 1984), providing the capstone experience on Saturday evening (that's July 18).

Starting at 7 p.m., Main Street will be closed to traffic, and Festival goers will be able to "cut the rug" off the sidewalk, according to the Festival web site. Free dance lessons will also be offered by Jim Cadon prior to the seven o' clock start time. Will Downtown Middlebury take a turn for the 1940s with all of this bebopping and boogie-woogie-ing going on? Only time will tell.

For those who prefer to enjoy their jazz from their blanket (note: not a rug), a second Jazz group will be performing in the Festival on Friday evening--sort of a preemptive jazz strike, you might Ray Vega and Tales from the Boogie Down will be cutting up a rug of their own on Friday, July 17, starting at 8:30 p.m.

Ray Vega and Tales from the Boogie Down

Vega, a native New York trumpet artist, will swing (quite literally) his way through Middlebury along with his five-piece backup band, bringing with him a "fiery" Latin version of what we have come to call jazz. This, I can tell you right now, is not your mother's trumpet/clarinet/percussion/piano combo, no sir.

Vega, who has mastered everything from jazz to salsa to Afro-Caribbean percussion, has performed with a number of ensembles and bands, as well as produced a number of albums under his own name. His first solo work came out in 1996, beginning with his self-titled album, followed by Boperation in 1999, and Pa'lante and Squeeze Squeeze in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Songs from his albums can be sampled here, if the Jazz Baby in you (see the "your mother's" link above) simply cannot wait until the 17th, and be sure to him out via Youtube/live at the Festival to catch his flying fingers in action (they literally leap across the trumpet keys at the speed of light).

So, get ready to bebop and rock steady (and I mean dancing; I'm actually not, for once, referring to characters from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" ) all throughout the week of July 12-18, beginning with bouncy bluegrass and ending in sassy and sultry jazz. And don't forget to check back here next week for the final entry in the Countdown to the Festival on the Green, brought to you by the one and only Addison Independent.

Online editor's note: Check back next Thursday for another update in the "Countdown to the Festival on the Green" series by Addison Independent intern Tamara Hilmes.

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