Music festival features Jay Geils

Posted July 31, 2008, at 12 a.m.

WINTERPORT, Maine -&nbspA legendary Boston rocker who is also skilled at gypsy jazz will headline the third annual Winterport Music Festival.

The festival will be held noon-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, at Abbott Park. Admission is $5, children under 12 free.

Jay Geils, leader of the great J. Geils Band, has teamed up with fellow guitarist Gerry Beaudoin and their sidemen to form King of Strings, a hot jazz band that showcases the gypsy sound popularized by Django Reinhardt.

Town Manager Phil Pitula, who also will play at the festival with the group Nvr2Late, described the event as an annual showcase for Maine talent as well as nationally known headliners.

“We want to help promote Maine talent, and year after year that’ s what we’ ve been working hard to do. To promote the great music people can hear in their own backyard,” Pitula said. “We like to open up and expose people to a wide range of styles as much as possible.”

Another national act performing at the festival will be Stevie Coyle, who was known for his work with the group Waybacks. Coyle is a singer-songwriter and will perform as a solo artist.

Other acts on the bill include Jess Tardy &amp Friends, a Newport singer who has performed in Nashville and Austin, Texas Leah Tysse, with Jump City, a well-known country vocalist and multi-instrumentalist from Orono who has been drawing rave reviews on the West Coast as an opening act for some of that region’ s better known rhythm and blues groups Inanna, an all-women African drum and vocal group from the Portland area Zebulon, a bluegrass band made up of members of the Maynard family from St. Albans Highball Jazz Trio, a smooth combo from Waterville and the Winterport-based Nvr2Late, playing original and cover tunes.

The festival is held in Abbott Park and there is plenty of free parking at the park or at two nearby schools. There are walking paths from the schools to the park. Golf carts will be available to transport the elderly and handicapped from the parking areas. Pitula said he expects a large contingent of Airstream owners to return this year as word of the festival has been spread among that group after a few showed up last year.

The festival will feature a range of culinary delights from hot dogs to Jamaican grill. A beer and wine garden will be enclosed within the park’ s tennis courts.

Music festival committee member Mark Fitzpatrick said the event would not be possible without the work of the many volunteers from town. He singled out resident Kent Palmer, who provides the festival sound system that saves the committee the $3,500 it would cost to rent one.

“He’ s so dedicated,” said Fitzpatrick. “He comes in the night before to set up and stays the whole night. He’ s really a major player in the whole scheme of things.”

Fitzpatrick noted that proceeds from the event go into the Winterport Music Festival Scholarship Fund, which each year awards a Hampden Academy graduate $1,000 toward an education in the arts. Last year’ s winner was Zebulon Reynolds, who now attends the State University of New York at Purchase.

Pitula also credited donations from scores of sponsors such as Olver and Associates, Merrill Bank, DM&ampJ Corp., Camden Bank and many others.

“All the sponsors have been with us from the beginning and even in this time when economic conditions are really tough they are sticking with us because they feel it’ s an important community event,” he said. “Without them and the dedication of the volunteers and the committee, it would be extremely difficult to pull this off.”

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