Fifth annual JAMS Festival kicks off in Jamaica

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Imagine a music festival bulging with leading performers of jazz, gospel and comedy all under the sun and later the stars, and all for free.

You don't have to imagine it - you just need to walk, drive, or take a train or bus to the gazebo in Rufus King Park on Jamaica Avenue between 150th and 153rd streets in Jamaica on Friday, July 27, Friday, Aug. 3, and the all-day show Saturday, Aug. 4.

It's the fifth annual Jamaica Arts & Music Summer Festival, to "showcase the diverse cultural and ethnic talents of the Borough of Queens," the promoters write.

You can bring lawn chairs or blankets, a picnic basket or sample some of the variety of ethnic foods sold by vendors.

The event is more than a series of outdoor concerts - sponsors say that it shows the vibrancy of a neighborhood that must fight a less than glorious reputation. Many people outside Jamaica, even other Queens residents, still think of the community as an economically depressed, high-crime area which they have little interest venturing into. Many don't realize that crime has gone down, that stores and markets are busy, or even that there is a major CUNY institution - York College - right in the middle of the neighborhood.

A look at some of the sponsors shows that Jamaica is alive and kicking: Time Warner Cable, the Queens Symphony Orchestra, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, 165th Street Mall Improvement Association, York College, and the newspaper you are now reading.

But enough about social significance. Here's some of the music and entertainment in store:

Friday, July 27, 6 p.m.: The "smooth sounds" of Roy Ayers

Friday, Aug. 3, 6 p.m.: Cucho Martinez & Jimmy Sabater Project

Saturday, Aug. 4, noon 'til after 6 p.m.: Shades of Color; Queens Symphony Orchestra Youth Gospel Ensemble; The Melvin Sparks Band; The Angels; Alphonso Blackwell; and Comedian Monteria Ivey.

For more information, call 718-526-3217 - and look to the special section of Qguide coming up next week.

Reach Qguide Editor David Glenn by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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