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Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival celebrates art, culture

Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Elizabeth Román
Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival is bringing live music to downtown Springfield Saturday, featuring more than 20 live performances and music workshops throughout the day.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the event celebrates arts and culture and supports local businesses.

"It brings a beautiful mosaic from Springfield and surrounding areas. It's a great time, the place is hopping, economic development — everyone is going to our restaurant row down here," he said.

The festival, which has been a labor of love for Springfield real estate developer and businessman Evan Plotkin, event director Kristin Neville and her husband, the late Charles Neville, struggled, but survived the pandemic.

"I don't think there's ever been a crowd so large enjoying music and community. It's beyond what I ever expected," Plotkin said.

The event includes two stages where acts will perform live from noon to 10 p.m.

"There are activities and food trucks, it's going to be like a carnival right in downtown Springfield," he said.

The festival is in its ninth year and was first started as a way to revitalize downtown Springfield.

"We came up with this, because we felt we needed to heal and to bring lifeblood back into the city, and it's working," Plotkin said.

The event also incorporates an art project into the festivities every year.

Artist John Simpson has worked on dozens of street art projects across the city. He said it's become a tradition for him to partner with the festival to complete a new project in the city's downtown area.

This year the mural project was an ode to Springfield's history with the recreation and restoration of vintage advertising on the brick wall of a Worthington Street building.

"This wall was in a state of deterioration and all these old ads were starting to disappear. People in the community said they would rather see us restore the ads instead of doing a new project and painting over them," Simpson said.

He said his team used reference photos to get text and color accuracy for the ads. The project was unveiled during the festival on Friday, although Simpson said it's not quite done yet.

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