Berks Jazz Fest opens on Friday

Berks Jazz Fest opens on Friday

READING, Pa. - Jazz lovers rejoice! The Berks Jazz Fest is here, and the unofficial start was Thursday at the planetarium at the Reading Public Museum.

Brian Hughes, a jazz guitarist, traveled all the way from the West Coast to perform in the 23rd annual Berks Jazz Fest.

"They're professional musicians and they do it for passion," said Craig Rosenfeld, board president of the Berks Arts Council. "I enjoy the fact that we'll run 162 shows in 10 days total. Last figure I heard, we bring $8 million into the local economy. The hotels fill up. The restaurants fill up."

Peter Boehi, of SmoothJazzVibes.com, traveled from Switzerland. It's been 10 years for him, and he keeps coming back.

"The whole friendliness makes it special," said Boehi. "And what I personally like is meeting those people in person after the show, at the bar. Talk to them. Many people know me by now. When I bump into them they know my name."

And he's not the only one rubbing shoulders with the big names.

"Signed autographs, took pictures, mingled with the crowd had a drink, it was amazing," said John Smith, director of the Reading Public Museum, about meeting Gerald Albright. "He's a Grammy Award winner. You're standing with the guy. It's incredible."

People love how close they can get to the stars at Berks Jazz Fest, and next Friday, they can come back to the planetarium see the stars under the stars.

"Last year, Gerald Albright came and sat in inside the planetarium here, super intimate," said Smith. "And he was so fabulous, we invited him to come back this year."

The Neag Planetarium is just one of the places people can feel the vibe during this festival.

"Obviously, jazz is big in Berks County," said Smith.

And the Hughes concert was the unofficial start. Imagine what happens for the kick off on Friday.

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