An Inside Look at the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival Programming

 

Editor, Ryan Meagher, here. The Cathedral Park Jazz Festival is almost here. Hopefully you have read some of the interviews JazzScene conducted with the artist of this year's festival. The CPJF is one of many incredible festivals Portland hosts during the city's most climate-friendly season. CPJF is different than a lot of festivals, and many of us in the jazz community know this. But I wanted to know why it's different. I program a festival myself, and I was wondering what some of the things that make the CPJF different than the other music festivals Portland has to offer. I interviewed Kate Naiman, one of the festivals programming persons.

 

JazzScene: How many years have you had a hand in programming the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival?

Kate Naiman: I have been booking the Friday night blues show since 2014, and my team was hired to produce and direct the festival this year.

JS: Besides this year, is there a year from the past that stands out as maybe your most favorite year of programming?

KN: I would put any act I've ever booked for CPJF up against any act, anywhere, but a favorite set was in 2016 when we had a wall of guitars grand finale with Grammy-winning guitarist, Ken Emerson, and three generations of musicians up there. It was over the top!

JS: Can you tell the readers a little bit about how the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival gets programmed? How do you select artists? Do they pitch you? Do you pitch them? A little bit of both?

KN: I reach out to acts and we receive press kits through our website.

JS: What makes Cathedral Park Jazz Festival different than other jazz and blues festivals in Portland and surrounding areas (PDX Jazz Festival, Waterfront Blues Festival, Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival, Albina Jazz Festival, Montavilla Jazz Festival, Aurora Colony Vineyards Jazz Festival, etc.).

KN: We are the longest running free jazz festival west of the Mississippi, or so the legend goes.  As you know, there is a limitless supply of world-class talent here in the Northwest, and in order to continue to not charge admission, we hire local talent, many of whom tour, or have toured, with international stars. We are working hard at building the festival on a community level, to build the food drive and support the local food pantries, and to have a presence in the St. John's area throughout the year, rather than just for a weekend. This is our 38th continuous year, which is pretty great.

JS: What are some things you have learned along the way?

KN: I learned many years ago that just because an act doesn't have a PR machine behind it, doesn't mean that they aren't as good as acts who are famous outside of the NW. I've learned that sometimes less is more, and other times you simply must have six guitarists on the finale.  I've learned that music ties us all together, and for an hour or so, people can forget everything else and get lost in the songs and that the power of music is limitless. And, I've found that I enjoy herding cats...

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