Our Good Friends at The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held their grand and glorious three day festival in Delaware Water Gap, PA. This wonderful event takes place every September on the weekend after Labor day. This is their 29th year which began as a small concert with bands placed on the steps of the old Castle Inn (which has since been destroyed by fire) and only had a few hundred people in attendance. It is now a huge event in several venues with the main events occurring on a permanent outdoor stage with a natural amphitheatre with several thousand jazz lovers eager to listen to the wide variety of jazz performers of whom many are nationally and internationally known.
It began Friday evening at Our Good Friends at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Art Gallery with an Opening Reception for the Music Motif Show which is a juried exhibition featuring numerous local artist including many of Our Good Friends. The evening continued with some wonderfully entertaining and thought provoking Theatrical, Dance, and Musical performances held at Our Good Friends at The Presbyterian Church of Mountain. Many of Our Good Friends participated in the performances of The Water Gap Players, Calliope, Anita Bondi and Company, and Kate and Richie Roche and Friends.
The second day of the festival began with the arousing sounds of The Skip Wilkins Quintet. This was a fantastic way to start a Saturday afternoon and gave everyone a fore taste of the delicious musical feast that was yet to come. The day continued with The Eddie Severn Group, The Urbie Green All Stars with a special tribute to Urbie on his 80th birthday, The Sweet Sue Terry Quintet, JARO which is a big band conducted by Wolfgang Knittel and features many well known and talented jazz musicians, The Jay Rattman Quartet with Spencer Reed, Five Play with numerous musicians who are from Japan that come to COTA to perform, The Dave Liebman Group who celebrated John Coltrane’s 80th Anniversary, and the evening ended with a rain storm and The Moutin Reunion Quartet. As you can see, it was a full day for the audience. But, there was more to come.
The third and final day of the festival began with The annual Jazz Mass which celebrated their 20th service. After the service, the Sunday afternoon was kicked off by Paul Hubbell who presented “Swing N Dixie” honoring the music of New Orleans. The concert continued with The Matt Vashlishan Quartet, Phil Woods and John Coats, Jr., The Eric Doney Project, J. D. Walter and The Orrin Evans Trio, Ejiro Nakagawa and Jim Pugh’s E n J, and the entire festival send everyone home exhausted but yearning for more with the lively Blue Sparks from Hell. The dancing they inspired will continue in the souls of many until next years festival.
Besides the great music on the main stage, there were many other side events and activities going on during the festival. There was music traveling around the festival grounds keeping everyone entertained while the eagerly awaited their favorite or soon to be among their favorite performers to be ready to play. These were The Dixie Gents and The Lost Ramblers. Although they weren’t performing on the main stage, their music never ceased to entertain and delight those who listened to it. There were artisans who shared their work in and outside the festival areas. They included Rachel Val Cohen, David W. Coulter, Shelly-Anne D’ Anna, Robert E. Doney (who also designed this year’s poster), Harriet Ford, Ron Ford, James Gloria, Tim Helman, Patricia A. Jiunta, Minda Krawitz, Linda Newswanger, Elizabeth Pemberton, Ursula Pooley, Paul Reiche, Linda Schwartz, Olaf Sigurdsson, Pia Somerlock, and Kathleen Sweeny. Our Good Friends at The 3 Moon Gallery and Yoga Studio also had an exhibition going on. In addition to all this, there was a children’s area which featured music, story telling, and lots of activities to keep even the fussiest of children entertained while their parents enjoyed the sights and sounds unencumbered by their beloved children. I think many of you who are parents can appreciate such a service COTA provides in this area.
I met a great many of Our Good Friends during the festival and made many new ones. Many of them participated as Artisans, Musicians, and Organizers of the festival. I’m pleased to report they are too numerous to mention individually. However, I want you all to know, as much as the internet is a blessing since it gives me the opportunity to learn of our love for the arts, it was a pleasure meeting many of you in person and to learn even more about you. It was a joy for me to volunteer as a member of the security staff and many of Our Good Friends also served in this and other areas which make a vital contribution to the delightful atmosphere of the festival beyond the performances. Please explore COTA’s Website at www.cotajazz.org for more information about the Festival and how you can volunteer for their 30th Annual festival. You’ll find nearly 200 of the event photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society COTA 2006 Gallery at 360.yahoo.com/pauladam.