All That Jazz: UWG’s Sunbelt Festival Brings Free Entertainment to Community

Julie Lineback

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

If you’re a jazz lover looking for a relaxing way to enjoy a Spring afternoon, this news will be music to your ears. The University of West Georgia’s Sunbelt Festival returns Saturday, April 16, on campus at Love Valley.

Headlined by Atlanta’s Joe Gransden Big Band, and featuring Nashville’s Sofia Goodman Group, the free event also incorporates student musicians from local high schools and UWG’s own Jazz Ensemble

UWG’s Director of Jazz Studies, Dr. Ben Geyer, has evolved the festival to include a visible community component in addition to educational elements.

“The festival gives the public an opportunity to enjoy high-profile, top-level jazz musicians,” he explained. “However, instead of having the high school bands attend clinics that were essentially behind closed doors, I decided to include them in the performance the public will be able to see.”

And instead of one guest artist – as in years past – this year’s event has two who are bringing their entire troupes to play separate concerts composed only of the professional group. The Sofia Goodman Group is a five-piece funk fusion band that combines jazz with rock elements, and the Joe Gransden Big Band is a 17-piece big band.

“It’s great to see the combination of musicians on different levels – the high school bands, the university group and professional artists,” Geyer said. “A lot of these festivals take place in a city’s downtown area, but this is an opportunity for people who live in this area to access incredible music in a beautiful outdoor environment right by the GreenBelt.”

The Sunbelt Festival will take place on the UWG campus in Love Valley (accessible by parking at 302 West Georgia Drive) from 2-7 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. Parking and admission are free, and concessions will be available for purchase. For more information, please visit the UWG Jazz Studies Facebook event.