Prepare to be serenaded with smooth jazz and sultry blues while floating down Big Walnut Creek this weekend.
At Gahanna's Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival you can take a $2 paddleboat ride and stay within earshot of the live blues and jazz performances. For those who prefer an up-close view, there'll be plenty of seats at four separate stages featuring dozens of the area's best musicians.
The 11th-annual fest, held for the second year in the new Creekside Park & Plaza development, will also feature visiting regional artisans, fair food and a Ferris wheel.
The festival was started as a dedication for the Creekside Park area and a celebration of the revitalized Olde Gahanna. It's evolved from a half-day affair to a three-day, full-blown family fest.
Last year's move to the completed Creekside Park & Plaza, on the eastern bank of Big Walnut Creek, attracted far more visitors.
"The park offered a lot in terms of what there is to do while listening to the music," festival spokeswoman Patty Geiger said. "It is also a beautiful forum for presenting the performances."
Organizers hope this year's new Acoustic Alley, a fourth live-music stage that'll be programmed by the Columbus Blues Alliance and the Jazz Arts Group, will draw even bigger crowds.
"[Acoustic Alley] gives local talent more opportunity to participate," Geiger said. "It creates an intimate environment for the audience."
This year's blues headliner is swamp-blues master Kenny Neal, a Louisiana native whose album Let Life Flow was named BluesWax Album of the Year in 2008.
Topping the jazz bill is the Typhanie Monique Quartet. Monique, who's been likened to a modern-day Sarah Vaughn, serves as vocalist, bandleader and songwriter for the Chicago group.
Beyond the music, there's plenty for families to do. The Musical Discovery Zone is a free, hands-on area where children can play various instruments and make one of their own.
For amusement park lovers, there's the Mini-Midway, complete with a fun house, giant slide, Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, climbing wall and kiddie rides.
The Rising Stars Blues & Jazz Contest, Gahanna's take on American Idol, starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The contest gives a group of new musical talents a chance to compete to open for the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. And the Jog for Jazz event, scheduled for Sunday, is a 5K walk/run event in Olde Gahanna.Live music highlights
Featured blues performances
9:30 p.m. Friday: The Sonny Moorman Group, Cincinnati blues-rock band
9:30 p.m. Saturday: Kenny Neal, renowned blues master
4:30 p.m. Sunday: Teeny Tucker and the Teeny Tucker Band, international blues-fest favorite
Featured jazz performances
9 p.m. Friday: The Typhanie Monique Quartet, Chicago jazz group
9:30 p.m. Saturday: Urban Jazz Coalition, Columbus smooth-jazz powerhouse
When: Friday-Sunday, June 19-21
Where: Olde Gahanna
Hours: 5-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday