The AACW Gospel, Blues and Jazz Festival in Yellow Springs
By Tim Walker
Family traditions, memories and feelings are deeply rooted in our small Ohio communities, and the village of Yellow Springs is no different than any other. Family members pass on memories, opinions and interests handed down from the older generations to the younger, and among those can be found the love of diversity and the need to gather and celebrate good music with like-minded souls – especially roots music like jazz, gospel and the blues.
More than any other, these three musical traditions are rooted in love, strength and passion. The small town sense of unity and community that this music brings to us, the knowledge that we are all connected to our past and are a vital piece of the human puzzle, will be celebrated in the upcoming 14th Annual African American Cross-Cultural Works 2011 Gospel, Blues and Jazz Festival, August 25-28 in Yellow Springs.
“It celebrates community and cultural diversity – it’s not just a concert,” said Faith Patterson, one of the annual event’s organizers, in describing the festival last year. “It’s not about musicians standing up, but people learning.”
“It really is an exciting four-day festival,” said John Booth, one of the organizers and a member of the festival’s steering committee. “We have quite a lineup of entertainers. We begin working on it in March, and we have a fantastic schedule of musicians and events this year.
“The event starts out on Thursday, August 25 with ‘Blooz ‘n Pomes, which is basically a poetry open-mic with a blues band featuring headliners from the festival backing. That should be a pretty good event – we’re having it at two places that night. We start out at Antioch Midwest on Dayton Street, and that will go from 7 to 9 p.m. there. And then we’re going to reconvene at 10 p.m. at Peach’s Grill and go until close.”
The first half of the evening is free and open to the public and all ages are welcome to attend.
The festival’s schedule for Friday and Saturday offers an entertainment line-up that will satisfy the cravings of any music lover. The events take place at the Antioch College amphitheater and will feature a food court and vendors in addition to hours of good music. Friday’s schedule features the Kelly Richie Band kicking things off at 6 p.m., followed by Andrew ‘Jr. Boy’ Jones, Karen Patterson and the 5YZmen at 8:30 p.m., Bluzion at 10 p.m. and the Larry Humphrey Band wrapping the day’s events up with a set scheduled to start at 11:30 p.m.
Saturday’s events begin at noon with a two-hour blues workshop hosted by Debbie Davies and Andrew ‘Jr. Boy’ Jones. The workshop will be followed by the Innovation Stage performances from 2 to 5 p.m. featuring area musicians and hosted by Karen Patterson, the daughter of festival organizer Faith Patterson and a musician herself, who also travels to Nigeria to teach music. The evening’s entertainment line-up begins at 5 p.m. with Seefari, then features a repeat performance by Andrew ‘Jr. Boy’ Jones at 7 p.m., Debbie Davies at 8:30 p.m., the Nerak Roth Patterson Band at 10 p.m., and a “Blues Summit” — a blues jam session with all of the featured artists — wrapping things up at 11:15 p.m.
“Sunday we’re going to have a gospel fest and basket meeting,” continued John Booth. “The gospel fest will consist of live performances by area gospel artists, followed by the basket meeting. The basket meeting is basically an old-time community tradition similar to a community potluck where participants are encouraged to pack a picnic basket and socialize after the music.”
African American Cross-Cultural Works is a non-profit, community-based group that “recognizes cultural heritage and celebrates cultural diversity by organizing, promoting and hosting events” such as the annual festival, according to their website.
If you’re looking to find out more about the festival, it’s difficult to find any information at all without coming across the name of Faith Patterson. Longtime resident of Yellow Springs, matriarch of the Patterson family and the president of African American Cross-Cultural Works, Patterson has been the driving force behind the festival for many years.
Although, unfortunately, dealing with some recent health issues which are still ongoing, Patterson and her family are still very involved in preparing for this year’s festival, and she plans to be in attendance. Her children Nerak Roth Patterson and Karen Patterson, both of whom will be performing at the festival, and are joined by the entire community in wishing Faith a speedy recovery.
A four-day gathering of musicians and artists celebrating the musical traditions of gospel, jazz, the blues and cultural diversity, the AACW Gospel, Jazz, and Blues Festival promises something for every taste and persuasion. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
The 14th annual AACW Gospel, Jazz and Blues Festival takes place in Yellow Springs from August 25 – 29. For more information, please visit the AACW website at
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com.