Frederick Jazz Fest brings live music to beautiful park, former burned-down building

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Frederick Jazz Festival (Part 1)

This weekend is a good time for D.C. folks to head up Interstate 270 to Frederick, Maryland, if they want to hear great live music.

Marcus Johnson will play the Frederick Jazz Festival.(Courtesy Frederick Jazz Festival)

The seventh annual Frederick Jazz Festival returns on both Saturday and Sunday.

“We started in 2017,” founder John Maestri told WTOP.

“All of the venues are within walking distance, so we’ve centered the festival in historic downtown Frederick. It’s a great place for people to walk, grab a bite to eat and then see a show. Make a weekend out of it, find a place to stay and just stay and hang out. Frederick is a really cool, hip place. There’s a lot going on here that people don’t even know about.”

The festival kicks off with a ticketed event at Sky Stage on South Carroll Street this Saturday at 1 p.m.

“In true Frederick fashion, they took a tragedy and they built something artistic out of it,” Maestri said.

“The building burnt down many years ago and the Frederick Arts Council took over and created this open-air theater concept. They call it Sky Stage because you can see the sky. … We have Dominique Bianco, who is just a great female vocalist … then Graham Breedlove, who is a trumpet player with U.S. Army Blues, a big band.”

After that, head over to Tenth Ward Distilling Company on East Patrick Street for more music at 4 p.m.

“Tenth Ward is a very cool distilling company downtown,” Maestri said.

“We’re going to have one of our local artists, Shawn Dennison, perform there. Tenth Ward has always supported local jazz artists. They invite jazz musicians to play there frequently. They’re really cool. They were like, ‘You know what we can do? We can have a Frederick Jazz Festival cocktail.’ This is a special cocktail you’ll never find anywhere else.”

Saturday closes with a ticketed event at New Spire Arts Center on West Patrick Street at 6:30 p.m.

“Marcus Johnson is headlining the festival — and opening up for Marcus is Wes Watkins,” Maestri said.

“Marcus Johnson is a Billboard-topping artist for contemporary jazz. Wes Watkins is not only a drummer but also a producer, so he’s worked with some Grammy-nominated folks before, so we’re really excited to have both of their groups come up and play. It’s going to be a very soulful, very jazzy time.”

The festival culminates with a performance at the Baker Park Bandshell on Sunday at 7 p.m.

“We’ve partnered with Celebrate Frederick, which puts on the summer concert series,” Maestri said.

“This summer, we were able to get the U.S. Navy Band Commodores. They will be performing that night and that event is free to the public. We’ve been very fortunate to come out of the COVID years with a great lineup, so we want people to come out, bring their families, bring their kids and just enjoy the music.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Frederick Jazz Festival (Part 2)

Listen to our full interview here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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