A 3 hour drive from Manhattan you are transported into a part of New York many have not had the opportunity to visit but should add to their list of “Places To Be and Things To Do”. Saratoga State Park is truly a gorgeous part of the United States which is distinguished by its beautiful classic architecture and listed as a National Historic Landmark. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is nestled in the heart of the park blending within the natural beauty. It is a cozy venue but is spacious enough to make you feel as though you are in another place in time. The performing arts center hosts many fabulous programs and events but the most divine time I had was attending this year’s Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival The Hang presented by Stella Artois. I love Stella Artois and Jazz so I had to pack a bag to go see what many of my friends were talking about!
Saratoga Springs is a quaint town with many mom and pop stores, motels, restaurants and many new stores and motels that is growing this sleepy town into a vibrant weekend of great music, food, fun, family, & friends. The Saratoga State Park is majestic in its beauty and its historical healing powers of the mineral spring waters flowing throughout this glorious park. Saratoga became known as the “Queen of the Spas“ after a book by Doctor Grace Swanner was published in 1988. The book remains to this day one of the most authoritative sources on the water of Saratoga. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were at least 100. However, today there may be fewer than 20. The book has categorized the springs as alkaline (antacid), chalybeate (high in iron), or cathartic (laxative). Over the years, many doctors have recommended the spring waters to cure everything from cancer to hangovers even diabetes. Saratoga created as a resort town for those who were seeking the springs for its therapeutic healing powers. Since its creation it has become the “mecca” for “the all-natural healing water”
We drove from New York city for 3 hours reminding how beautiful this part of the country is still untouched. Once we arrived, we checked into the Saratoga Turf & Spa Motel which is family owned and operated motel since 1955. It is one of the last small, independent motels in Saratoga. The grounds had an outdoor heated swimming pool with a large area for grilling and two mineral water hot tubs in their unique spa. Once we checked in, we went to the spa to enjoy a relaxing evening to prepare ourselves for the fun festivities of the jazz festival. We awakened to a warm gorgeous morning, packed our car with our coolers filled with tasty libations because we were meeting up with others who were bringing all the food. When we arrived to the park, we picked up our tickets and found our friends under a shady spot where we would set up as our base camp. This was a new adventure for me but for those I was with it has been a 20+yr ritual to escape the city of New York hustle and bustle to settle in for a cozy weekend of music, food, fun, family, and friends!
Another great thing we saw was relationship between the Skidmore Jazz Institute and the Saratoga Jazz Festival. I met several of the Summer jazz camp attendees and attending the jazz festival was part of their activities to enjoy the event along with those who have been attending for many years. It was an experience for many of them that they will never forget.
All I can say is “WOW”!!! I cannot believe I have never heard of this festival but upon arrival, I am glad I know now. There was a wonderful food vendor that had two locations in the park featuring New Orleans style food along with a few others serving up delicious sweet treats. There were several bar areas that served up delightful libations for adults along with soft drinks, water, and even a lemonade stand. The highlight though for me, Stella Artois was a sponsor of this wonderful event as well!! I love Stella and Stella has been good to me. The headliner for the evening on the main stage was supposed to have been Chaka Khan but she had to cancel so we enjoyed the day listening to music from artists such as Pieces of A Dream 40th Anniversary Tour, Shemekia Copeland, Eric Lindell, along with many others but who I truly enjoyed was Joey Alexander who was celebrating his 13th birthday playing piano in his trio band. He is talented beyond his years and I am excited to hear what he shares with the world as gets older.
It was announced the Isley Brothers would be the headlining show with Ron Isley and his brother Ernie. Walking around and enjoying the music and then we ventured over to the gazebo where other artists were performing such as Eric Lindell, Vince Herring & The Kings of Swing featuring Mike LeDonne, David Williams, & several others. It was a bit more intimate sitting by the gazebo but still could hear some of the music coming from the main stage. Behind the gazebo area was a vendor area for those artists who were selling jewelry, clothing, hats, artwork, and lots of other unique pieces that many could enjoy for a lifetime. It was a large are but due to the heat and humidity along with this area being under an open tent, it was still quite warm so I had to pace myself. We spent the entire first day enjoy all that the festival had to offer. Ohhh but when the Isley Brothers were on stage that night, we were front and center. We sang all the classics, danced in the aisles, and had a great time!! The Isley Brothers gave us a fabulous show and gave us great showmanship!! We left the park still singing songs that made us smile growing up.
Day two we did the same thing, wake up, shower, and head over to the park for more festivities of the festival. I spent time by the creeks running through the park with mineral spring water flowing through them as I listened to the music from the main stage. The sounds of Chick Corea Trilogy featuring Christian McBride and Brian Blade, Lizz Wright, along with several others made the day feel super special and appreciative of this beautiful park not destroyed by man and the event not commercialized to lack the love and groovy energy coming from the people. We did venture over to the gazebo area where we were lucky enough to catch Jarrod Lawson moving the crowd with his stylistic jazzy groove with some rhythm and bluesy feel to it. There were others who performed at the gazebo but by the time the sun was beginning to set, we packed up all of our things and took them to the car because we had to get ready for a night with Smokey Robinson who was the headliner for day two.
OMG! I understand why so many women of all generations and racial background have been in love with Smokey Robinson. He was humble, he was smooth, he was sexy at 76yrs young, he was a true entertainer, but above all he was love personified. He gave us songs many did not know he had written, he gave us the classics, he gave us showmanship, and he gave us a groovy great time to reminisce on where you were when you heard your first Smokey Robinson song. It was a wonderful evening one I will never forget.
If you have never attended the Friehofers Saratoga Jazz Festival, you must add this one to your “Places To Be and Things To Do”. For more details, check out their website http://www.spac.org/events/jazz-festival