This Weekend's Guide to Jazz Festivals at the Beach

Music lovers won’t want to miss these annual festivities.


This weekend, the sea breezes will carry the hot sounds of cool jazz from Lewes to Dewey Beach. Two festivals have returned to the coast: The True Blue Jazz Festival runs Oct. 10-14, and the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival runs Oct. 11-14.

Now in its 29th year, the Rehoboth Jazz Festival is featuring 23 shows in four days. The increase in activity is due to an expanded number of available venues, including the opening of the new Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. The state-of-the-art theater in Cape Henlopen High School is “a godsend,” says Dennis Santangini, president of the Delaware Celebration of Jazz, which organizes the event. “It’s beautiful inside.”

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Among this year’s performers are Morris Day & the Time, Gerald Albright with Norman Brown, and Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers. Art Sherrod Jr. and the ASJ Orchestra will present “Mo-JAZZ: When Motown Meets Jazz” at the convention center, and Lucky Chops will bring their high-energy brassy funk to the Bottle & Cork.

Photo by Chuck Snyder

New this year is the Dancing for the Cure Community Ballroom Dances, where you can tango, rumba and foxtrot. The addition should appeal to those who want to join the fun but don’t like sitting still to listen to music, Santangini says.

Expect more non-music activities in 2019 when the festival becomes a 10-day event. Organizers plan to revive the Taste of Rehoboth, which will feature 12 restaurants, plus tennis and golf tournaments.

While the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival dips its toes into funk, rock and blues, the True Blue Jazz Festival focuses squarely on one genre. Now in its sixth year, the festival holds performances in downtown Rehoboth venues, such as Clear Space Theatre and the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand. Performers include Wycliffe Gordon, Bobby Sanabria and Ascensión and, of course, festival founders Eddie Sherman and Peggy Raley.

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The festival will also include screenings of “The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith” and “Bill Evans Time Remembered.”

Both festivals are promoting brunches, but you’ll also find jazzy doings around town. Fork + Flask, for instance, is hosting the band 2nd Time Around on Saturday during brunch, and Bruce and Sam on Sunday.

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