By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer

        (Long Beach, Ca.)- The stage was set for the most highly anticipated event of the Summer. Music lovers were overjoyed  to be outdoors, in Houghton Park in Long Beach, Friday, August 20 and Saturday, August 21, 2021, for the return of the in-person celebration of the 10th Annual Uptown Jazz Festival, presented by Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, 9th District and the City of Long Beach.

        The weather forecast called for some sun, cool, breeze, overcast with light drizzles and more sun with a 100% chance of R&B, Soul, Blues, Funk, Latin Jazz and Salsa permeating the air throughout Houghton Park.

        DJ Mr. Quick was in control of the ones and twos as he laid out an array of old school and new school tunes as people arrived into the park and in between acts. DJ Mr. Quick motto “Smooth but always in the groove.”

        Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson and his wife Dr. Nina Richardson welcomed the crowd to the festival, celebrating ten wonderful years.

        Various food trucks were on site providing a smorgasbord of delicious cuisine to the throng of people gathered in the park. Friday’s food truck consisted of The Kobbler King, The Bleu Kitchen, On Point Jerk Chicken, Fat Boys and Merc Clemente.

        The opening day of the festival was All White Attire Party. It was a beautiful site to see the sea of people dressed in all white throughout Houghton Park.

        New Blues Revolution kicked off the festivities with a rockin’ crowd pleasing set of original and covers of blues tunes. “Take Me to River,” “Come Together,” “Smoking Gun,” “Pick 7,” “Lately ( I Didn’t Miss You),” “Baby, Did A Bad Thing,” “Let Me Go,” and concluded their set with “Blues Revolution.”

        Susie Hansen Latin Band added their secret ingredients to spice up the festivities with a set of Latin Jazz, Salsa and Cumbia. The band featured Susie Hansen on electric violin, Brian White-bass, Daniel Castillo-percussion, Kasper Abbo-guitar, Joe Rotundi Jr.,-keyboards and Ricardo “Tiki” Pasillas on drums. The crowd was enjoying their contagious rhythms on the tunes “Brujeria,” “Frank Sinatra Cha Cha Cha,” “Vivir Mi Vida,” “Beyond the Sea,” “La Salsa Nunca se Alcaba,” “Representante de la Salsa,” and a tune from the playbook of Los Angeles Azules.

        Sy Smith put the finishing touches on the opening day showcasing her amazing vocal styling in a captivating performances.

        Saturday, final day. The community came together for another day of full on music, food, and fun! The Uptown Jazz Festival continues to bring people together from all over Long Beach and surrounding communities to enjoy some of the best local live performances in a relaxing tree-lined Houghton Park. A vibrant International Marketplace featured vendor booths selling clothings, hats, jewelry, beauty products, plants and arts and crafts.

        Additional food trucks were added for day two. Wut-a-Pickle, Taco Mell Catering, Compton Vegan, Robert Earl’s BBQ, and Smhokin Pot.

        The Open Street Block Party sponsored by SCAG Go Human campaign featured Go Human Demonstrations, DJs, incredible live performances, food trucks, and a kids zone. 

        The theme for this years celebration “In This Together” which promotes a healthy, safe summer with a focus on health resources, COVID-19 outreach, vaccinations, COVID-19 testing and education.

Aundrae Russell and DJ Mr. Quick. (Ricky Richard photo)

        The Main Stage featured the return of DJ Mr. Quick and KJLH Radio 102.3FM Radio Free, Aundrae Russell as Master of Ceremonies.

        The Main Stage line-up consisted Pastor Funk, the blues and soulful sounds of Paulie Cerra, Hip-hop/neo-soul of vocalist/trumpeter Rcyk Jane, funkified set by Biscuits and Gravy. DW3 took the crowd down memory lane as they romped through a set of classic R&B and soul hits. It is no wonder that DW3 has performed at the Uptown Jazz Festival for the past ten years. DW3 is in demand to perform at concerts, festivals and private events locally, nationally and internationally. They liven up any venue whether it is a club, party, concert or festival.   

Legendary guitarist Robby Krieger of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band The Doors. (Ricky Richard photo)

        Legendary guitarist Robby Krieger from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band The Doors performed some jazz fusion with his current group Robby Krieger’s New Experience.

Percussionist extraordinaire Sheila E. (Ricky Richard photo)

        Percussionist extraordinaire Sheila E closed out the festival with a dazzling and sensational performance fit for royalty. Sheila E spoke her truth, sharing with the crowd her recent recovery for COVID-19 virus. This served as a reminder for the crowd to get tested or vaccinated. All hail the Queen of Percussion.

        The 10th Annual Uptown Jazz Festival was presented in partnership with Councilwomen Mary Zendejas and Councilmember Roberto Uranga.