Upstate New York and New Orleans may seem a world apart, but the Big Easy is going to get a whole lot closer this weekend when Bourbon Street comes to Saratoga Springs. On Friday, June 22, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) will present “A Night on Bourbon Street,“ a brand new speakeasy-styled fundraiser that begins at 7:30pm and ends, well, when the fun runs out. “Our city not only has a rich history of jazz music, but also of speakeasies, which were flourishing in Saratoga in the 1920s, says Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of SPAC. “A Night on Bourbon Street will bring together both Saratoga traditions as the kick-off event to the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival. Our new ‘A Night on Bourbon Street’ event was created to invite our jazz festival attendees downtown to celebrate Saratoga’s rich history as a ‘jazz city.’”
As the name implies, the event pays homage to the Big Easy’s legacy as the birthplace of jazz and is also a major fundraiser presented by SPAC’s action council to benefit educational programming. The brand new event will feature gaming tables, spicy New Orleans-themed food prepared by Lily and the Rose gourmet catering and, of course, enough bathtub gin to fill Jay Gatsby’s swimming pool (in other words, open bar), all at Saratoga’s own historic den of Gilded Age sin, the Canfield Casino in Congress Park. The Bourbon Street-inspired party will also be headlined by heralded Canadian musician Bria Skonberg, who performs at 9pm. A singer, songwriter and trumpeter, Skonberg has won numerous jazz awards and honors, including the 2017 JUNO Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for her crowdfunded album With a Twist (Sony, 2017). (The JUNO’s are the Grammys of Canada.) Tickets for “A Night on Bourbon Street” start at $150 and are available at spac.org.
Of course, if you love jazz (and if you’re reading this article, surely you must), keep in mind that this is the main event for SPAC’s new Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Friday initiative, which features loads of live jazz events, dancing and themed dining throughout the Spa City on Friday, June 22, as well. Caffè Lena, National Museum of Dance, Northshire Bookstore, The Local, The Adelphi Hotel, Sperry’s, Kru Coffee and The Gideon Putnam are just a few of the local businesses and venues that are participating.
This, of course, is also the official kick off event for the 41st Annual Jazz Fest at SPAC on Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24. Big names, such as Jon Batiste, Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti, Gregory Porter, and gospel and R&B legend Mavis Staples, will headline this year’s stellar lineup. Freihofer’s Jazz Fest is also great for new and up-and-coming artists making their SPAC debut, such as José James, Lakecia Benjamin and SoulSquad, Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band, Jazzmeia Horn and many, many more.