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More than just jazz at broadened festival

By Bryan Richardson

Mary Renee, the emcee for the Little Apple Music Festival, had a few words for the audience Saturday: “Music is music.”

The message was for those longtime attendees of the Little Apple Jazz Festival, created in 2005 and renamed the Little Apple Music Festival this year. It was part of the move from a festival featuring strictly jazz music to other genres, which included indie, blues and country music Saturday.

Before introducing the 1st Infantry Division Fort Riley Jazz Combo, Renee, who has been the emcee at previous festivals, said the heart of the festival is still jazz.

“For my jazz people who keep coming out, we didn’t forget about you,” she said. “It’s still about jazz. We’re just going to call it music and trick them all to get out here.”

Away from her emcee duties, Renee said she listens to many genres of music, and others do too. “Most people who really love music love all kinds of music,” she said.

The change was made by the K-State Student Union Program Council in an effort to appeal to a wider audience, specifically students. UPC partners with the Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department.

Erika Davis, UPC summer co-chair, said the move started last year when the group brought in a couple of blues bands. She said the group is looking to appeal to students since their funds help make the show possible.

“It’s hard to get the students to come to the summer event,” she said.

The festival drew more than 2,000 people last year. Davis said UPC’s hope was to have 3,000 attend Saturday.

Davis said she is aware that not everyone would like the change and some might stay away. “We took that sacrifice because not everybody is attracted to jazz music,” she said. “We wanted to have a jazz and blues band to keep the people that come for jazz and blues.”

For those wanting a jazz fix, there were the Fort Riley Jazz Combo and Joseph Vincelli; Walkin’ Cane brought the blues.

Representing genres not at the festival in past years, Deer, Daniel played his indie sound, and County Road 5, the headliner group, came for the country fans.

Among the first-time attendees were three K-State students.

Kelly VanCleave, a senior, is a jazz fan, so she would have been interested in the old format. She played bass in her high school jazz band. “I like the freedom when you play,” she said.

She brought Wesley Good, a junior. This is his third summer in Manhattan, but the first time he’s attended the festival.

Good said he didn’t know the festival was going on during his previous summers in Manhattan. “I don’t really like jazz, so I probably just ignored it,” he said.

Good told Alex Phillip, a sophomore, about it as they were wrapping up work at Geek Shop Repair in Aggieville, which Phillips owns. “He said, ‘I’m about to walk over to the park and see what’s going on,’” Phillip said. “I said, ‘What’s going on?’”

As the initial jazz portion went on, VanCleave said she was enjoying the music. Good seemed more excited about the snow cones that the group said they liked. “Usually they don’t give you enough juice,” he said.

Joel Meyers, a long-time resident of Manhattan, said he’s attended the festival every year. The change in direction wasn’t likely to bother him much as he said he likes jazz, country and the blues. “Granted, some people don’t like this type of music or that type of music,” Meyers said.

Meyers said he also enjoys seeing people enjoy themselves in the community.“I think they ought to continue it forever,” he said. “It’s a great deal.”

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