Music Park: Montreux Jazz Festival 50 @ Montreux, Switzerland — 7/1-7/16/16

foule_montreux_deep_purple_0048 Deep Purple perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival’s Stravinksy Auditorium in 2013. (Photo by Lionel Flusin)

What is the Montreux Jazz Festival exactly?

If you’re like me, you’ve occasionally seen or heard live performances from the festival on video or CD — and you have the impression it’s a far-flung gathering of musicians socializing over jazz in some elite location in Switzerland.

Well, now I’m here, and the first thing that I can report is that it’s not just a jazz festival — it’s dedicated to all kinds of music ranging from rock to soul to EDM. It’s also not necessarily all that elite. Take for example this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival 50, which hosts an incredibly robust free program over its two-week stretch in this month of July. You could attend from 2pm to 5am many days and see many performances and then dance until you drop for free admission.

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Music Park: VinoFest Wine and Music Festival 2016 @ Yards Park — 5/7/16

Vinofest 21 Jon Batiste leads Stay Human in a march across Yards Park during VinoFest on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Jon Batiste saw an opportunity, and he took it.

The natural-born band leader leapt from the stage and onto the field at VinoFest 2016, after he and his band Stay Human performed a full set of originals and classics. And they began to jam out in a spot first at stage right, but then they took advantage of the layout of the space around them.

Winding around the stage and between pavilions serving wine tastings, Jon Batiste and Stay Human led a merry parade across the field and back again, playing music all along.

For those who know Jon and Stay Human, this comes as no surprise as the band are famous for their “love riots” where they take their show to the streets or even the subways. All the same, the audience at VinoFest were delighted and enthusiastic at the prospect of interacting with Jon as he played his famous melodica and the band kept pace, playing right alongside him, in a little whirlwind of zippy musical activity.

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