0513 Jazz fest
Festival goers set up to watch jazz performances at last year’s Preserve Jazz Festival.
Building a music festival out of thin air is exactly what Jason Henderson, Preserve Jazz Festival founder and resident of The Preserve, accomplished when he and his family first moved into the neighborhood in 2006.
“We actually hired Eric Essix and his band for a neighborhood outdoor fall event, and it went over great,” he said. That event led to a serendipitous conversation between Henderson and Essix, who casually mentioned that he’d always wanted to do a jazz festival.
In Henderson’s view, The Preserve, with its spacious public green space, presented the perfect location for such an event.
“The centerpiece of the neighborhood is our beautiful 10-acre park with the actual Preserve as the backdrop. The park has a slight slope and almost serves as a natural amphitheater. It’s a great setup for concerts.”
Essix agreed, and 10 months later, the inaugural Preserve Jazz Festival took place.
“Most people are pleasantly surprised that the event is held in a neighborhood,” said Henderson, who attributes the Festival’s year-over-year crowd growth to a consumer friendly culture.
Patrons can bring their own food and beverages, and Festival organizers work closely with local sponsors and law enforcement to ensure a smooth and safe experience.
“We could have never pulled this event off without the support of the City of Hoover,” Henderson said. “They have been great to work in every department: the police, fire, public works, transportation, the mayor’s office. They have been so supportive over the years and continue to be.”
For their part, Henderson and Essix are also sharing the love. After the second the year they set up a foundation as a way to give back to the community. After paying the bills for the event, they award small grants to area schools, music groups, churches and others.
“This event is not a big money maker as we both have kids, careers and day jobs,” Henderson said. “But even though it’s not typically a big sum of money, these grants may help pay for a band trip, new instruments or lessons for kids whose families might not be able to afford them.”
2013 also marks the third year that Henderson and Essix have held the Preserve Jazz Prelude, which takes place at Samford University the Saturday prior to the Festival. The event is a fundraising effort in support of the John Porter Minority Scholarship.
Tickets for the 2013 Preserve Jazz Festival are available now at preservejazz.com. Ticket prices remain unchanged from 2012 and range from $40 (general admission) to $125 (VIP) plus a small Ticket Biscuit processing fee. An overnight jazz package is also available through Ross Bridge Resort & Spa, which includes hotel accommodations, breakfast, parking and festival general admission tickets. Children 12 and under are admitted free.
Festival gates open to the general public at 3 p.m., with musical performances starting at 4 p.m.
Attendees can once again park and ride for free from The Hoover Met (formerly Regions Park) on shuttle buses to and from the festival site. Riders must be able to hold all bags, coolers and other items with them on the bus ride. No public parking is allowed at the festival site. Bus service from Regions Park will run every 15 minutes or when the buses are full.