Two years ago, local music lover Carla Brown decided to organize and promote monthly concerts with an eye on making the events a complete sensory experience for fellow music lovers. So she started the monthly concert series Jazz and Wine Total Experience featuring jazz performances from local and regional bands, a full dinner menu and wine from area vineyards.
Last month, Brown celebrated the series’ second anniversary with a packed show.
“Two years of people supporting live music and people are looking forward to coming to the events. People always tell me it’s the place to be,” Brown said. “I'm so happy about the support we get from Akron and Cleveland and the surrounding areas that come and support Jazz and Wine Total Experience and the musicians who perform.”
For May, Jazz and Wine Total Experience will take on an exotic flavor with “Spring Caribbean Island Night” next Saturday featuring Detroit-based smooth jazz saxophonist Shelby Brown (no relation to Carla) and his band along with DJ Mo Lee spinning music between sets at the Holiday Inn Akron West in the Montrose area in Bath Township.
“Expect a lot of reggae,” Brown said, chuckling.
Shelby Brown, a returnee to Jazz & Wine Total Experience, started playing the violin at 9 years old and by age 13 he had discovered jazz through listening to the late smooth jazz sax man George Howard. Brown released his debut album, Miracles, with guitarist Dee Brown (not related) in 2003 and began touring internationally. Two years later he released his second album No Boundaries which helped him get an endorsement deal with Dymusic USA & Wisemann Saxophones allowing him to take his music around the globe including gigs in Shanghai and Beijing.
Brown has also bolstered his international reach and shown his support by performing for U.S. troops stationed throughout Asia.
Brown's most recent album is The Meaning of Life featuring Brown's 11 new groovy songs including a few duets with vocalists.
Since it’s Spring Caribbean Island Night, Brown, the promoter expects Brown, the musician, to add a little Caribbean spice to his sets.
“He better. He knows what the theme is,” she said laughing.
Carla Brown has been a lifelong lover of live music and she spent several days at the recent Tri-C Jazzfest in Cleveland, soaking up not only the music, but also observing how the events are run.
“You just take it all in and enjoy the atmosphere and talking to (various jazzfest officials) to get more knowledge on how these big events are done,” she said.
Though the monthly series had proven successful and has a loyal audience that turns out for each month’s event, Jazz and Wine Total Experience is still a labor of love for Brown.
“I get more excited and filled with anticipation about each event and the different entertainers that come. They all bring in their own creative style and since [starting] two years ago, I have a lot of out-of-the-area artists that want to come here and play because they heard about it,” she said.
Brown teased that she has a big surprise for her series followers in July that she hinted would be a nationally known artist.
“It's all about supporting live music. That was the goal of it all when I started and I’m still excited to be doing it and that people keep coming.” Brown said.