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Sac Music Fest headliners pack the green

Trombone Shorty - Troy Andrews
Trombone Shorty - Troy Andrews
Susan Raines

Temperatures were high and the music was hot at the Sacramento Music Festival this year of 2014. After 41 years, the festival is still going strong with some dips and rises in attendance through the years. Everything evolves if it must survive and the Jazz Jubilee has stretched and struggled through a decade of changing times to come out fighting. Last year was the first in ten years that attendance saw an increase and the numbers are still in count this year. If the crowds at the headliner stage at the Turntable on the Green venue are any sign, it was a very successful event.

Turntable on the Green crowd before the headliner show
Susan Raines

By the time the headliners hit the stage, the sun was dropping and the heat subsiding. Many attendees commented that they came out primarily for this evening feature of either Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Mat Kearney or Collective Soul. Two sections of four hundred chairs each were set up under shades on the grass. During the hottest part of the day, many of the second set of chairs were scarcely filled. The grass area bordering the stage was often turned into a dance floor with people giving it a shake, shimmy and roll. Once the headliners appeared, there was only standing room on the front green and crowds waved their arms and bobbed. The die-hard dancers moved to the side and continued to work their vibe to the bone.

On Friday at 8:00 p.m., Trombone Shorty was received with love. The 28 year old star is all gold and no fooling with a Grammy nomination and top of the chart songs like "Say That to Say This." The composer, arranger, trumpet, trombone and vocalist Troy Andrews (Trombone Shorty) with the equally incredible Orleans Avenue musicians drew in thousands to Turntable on the Green. They were also the source of some unstoppable heat of the more desirable kind and had the night sizzling with jazz, blues and a darn good mix of "superfunkrock."

On Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Mat Kearney brought out the fans and created some new admirers. With references to Chico and Sacramento, he quickly endeared himself to the audience. The Oregon born, Nashville-based singer, songwriter, musician studied literature and played soccer at the Chico branch of California State University then set out to Tennessee to "lay down a few songs." Offers for recording deals turned his summer stay into a new home for seriously pursuing a songwriting career.

Kearney's style made him an ideal choice appealing to multiple generations. Soulful, at times gentle and others bursting with energy, with moving lyrics, folksy and even a dash of Hip-hop, Kearney's songs and vocals wooed the Sacramento Music Festival from head to toe with no room left for doubt about how attendees felt about the choice to have Kearney perform. Audience members could be seen jumping like rave crazed music lovers, swaying and cheering. Perhaps a few tears hit the cheeks. And surely, the crowd clearly enjoyed the call out for a musician in the crowd which brought "Sam" to the stage to prove he had some experience drumming. "Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam" the audience cheered until Kearney finished the song and repossessed the stage with his top notch band.

If Mat Kearney lovers want to follow him, there is minimal bio information on his sites and facebook simply says, in true artist fashion, "About: Lover fighter, Friend believer, Foodster reader, Sailor singer." This tells us that there's a dose of humble in the artist along with the vibrant voice that will surely continue to make his songs sought after as they have been "appropriated by 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, The Hills, Friday Night Lights, Scrubs, NCIS and numerous other television shows and films including Soul Surfer and Catch and Release."

On Sunday, May25 at 8:30 p.m. the third big headliner to grace the Turntable stage was welcomed by Collective Soul fans that fell in love with the band in the '90s when they hit international fame. Being less known to stringent jazz fans didn't stop them from nearly filling the venue which is said to have a capacity of over 3,000. Lead vocalist Ed Roland burst with energy, hair flying, guitar strumming while the entire band seduced the crowd with Dean Roland on guitars, Will Turpin on bass and percussion, Jesse Triplet on guitars and Johnny Rabb on drums.

These three headliners were the "Turntable on the Green" single set appearances. Additional headliners performed at other Sacramento Music Festival venues in Old Town Sacramento including Deke Dickerson, Texas Tornados, and The Stray Cat Lee Rocker who filled the Firehouse Lot venue to capacity. In the meantime, favorites like Mike Martin and the Blues Rockers, Kyle Rowland Band, Dave Bennett and the Memphis Boys, Mumbo Gumbo, Two-Tone Steiny and The Cadillacs, Jimmy Pailer and The Prophets returned to weave their magic from one venue to the next. It was an incredible weekend of music, dancing, cheering, listening, learning, and sharing for thousands.