Festival Fever

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Last year, an estimated 700 to 800 bookworms attended the event, and most walked away with at least one tome. This year, four writers will offer one-hour presentations throughout the festival. In addition to the authors, musicians with the Sedona Performers Guild will perform near the college’s reflecting pond throughout the day. Arts-and-crafts vendors will set up shop on the patio, and attendees can nosh and discuss books at an indoor café.

Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Yavapai College Foundation – Greater Verde Valley Chapter. Last year, Sedona Book Fest raised nearly $6,000. According to Joe, there are only two other book festivals in the state of Arizona – in Tucson and Flagstaff – and each one has a very different flavor. And though the Sedona event originated in The Well Red Coyote’s parking lot and has grown considerably since its inception, Joe doesn’t expect it to rival the New York Book Festival anytime soon. “We’re not trying to grow every year – we’re physically limited to where we can hold the festival,” says Joe. “The idea is to make it better in quality, not bigger in size.”

Sedona Book Festival, Oct. 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. @ Yavapai College: Sedona Center for Arts & Technology, 4215 Arts Center Drive in West Sedona; parking is available at the college or at the nearby Sedona Cultural Park. Admission is free.

Sedona Jazz on the Rocks

Sedona Jazz on the Rocks celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and like many 30-year-olds, it has decided to make some changes. The Oct. 7 and 8 music festival moves from Poco Diablo Resort to the Sedona Golf Resort in the Village of Oak Creek, offers six admission packages with tickets as low as $30 and has expanded its lineup to include reggae, Latin music and even several fusion bands. It’s true, not all diehard festival supporters are happy about this, but in a world where jazz festivals are going the way of compact discs and major record labels, organizers believe this new approach will expose a younger demographic to the genre of jazz.

That’s not to say SJOR didn’t listen to the concerns, says Ben Miller, president of the nonprofit’s board of directors. “We actually met with the folks who expressed disappointment, and we asked them for suggestions as to who they’d like to see at the festival. They told us Billy Mitchell, and as a result, we reached out to Billy, and he’s performing at our Thursday gala as well as opening the show on Friday.”

Aside from Billy Mitchell, who takes the stage at 4:30 p.m., the Friday evening concert includes David Koz and The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman. On Saturday, the music starts at noon with the Sahnas Brothers. Other acts include Hiroshima, Soulive and Mindi Abair with special guest Jeff Golub. The festival ends with perhaps the two most surprising acts on the bill: Los Lobos and Maxi Priest.

This year, SJOR hired BTW Concerts, a Phoenix concert promoter, to attract popular performers. And the move to the Sedona Golf Resort’s driving range opens up a whole new world of possibilities, too. Music lovers now have the choice of purchasing plush skybox seats, front-of-the-stage pit seats, executive deck seating or chairs at the Vortex Lounge, something Ben is particularly excited about. “That’s going to be a really, really fun spot,” he says. “We’re going to have bands performing on the deck between our national acts, so if you’re in the lounge, it will be nonstop music.”

Reserved seating and general admission tickets are also available (no outside chairs will be allowed). Whereas the position of the sun caused some discomfort at previous festivals, the stage will be set so that the sun is always behind the audience and not shining in anyone’s eyes. And Ben promises everyone will be wowed by the unobstructed red rock views from the field. “This is a much different experience than anyone has ever had at Jazz on the Rocks,” he says. We don’t doubt that.

Sedona Jazz on the Rocks, Oct. 7, 4:30 to 9 p.m. and Oct. 8, 10:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. @ the Sedona Golf Resort, 35 Ridge Trail Drive in the Village of Oak Creek. Ticket packages range from $30 for a general admission ticket to $350 per person for a Skybox seat. For more information, call 602-244-8444 or visit www.sedonajazz.com.

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