Jazz festival held in Vienna

VIENNA – The first-ever Vienna Jazz Festival had everyone swaying to the music Saturday, organizers said.

David Wells, a local musician and organizer for the event, said the goal of Saturday’s program was to bring a festival and some different entertainment to Vienna.

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, but originally from Vienna, Wells said he wanted to bring a unique entertainment-filled night to the area.

The Chocolate Jazz Foundation, founded by Wells in August 2008, hosted Saturday’s event as a fundraiser for area schools and their music programs. The organization has conducted over 150 fundraisers for public schools in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri. Over $250,000 has been raised for music departments in those areas, organizers said.

Frank Byers, of Little Hocking, said he works as social media manager in Parkersburg for Woodcraft on Emerson Avenue and came to Saturday’s jazz festival for the atmosphere and entertainment. He has a DJ business on the side and has always loved music, he added.

“It’s for (Wells’) foundation and that’s the most important thing,” Byers said. “I appreciated that because a lot of woodworking shops have gone out of the schools.”

Byers said he would hate to see children in the area not be exposed to those kinds of crafting jobs.

“Music is important, using your hands is important,” he said. “It gives you character and balance in your life.”

He believes having music in the hearts of children lightens their load in life.

Dave Stephens, of Parkersburg, said he came to Saturday’s jazz festival to see Wells, who performed with fellow musician Chris Geith Saturday evening. Other jazz performers featured throughout the day-long music program included Hook, Simply Ira, Julian Vaughn and Warren Hill.

“We had the opportunity to see (Wells) at the University of Charleston,” he added.

Stephens said he and his wife, Joyce, also came to see their friend perform in Simply Ira, one of the other bands performing Saturday. A former elementary school principal, Stephens said he was happy to be in Vienna to listen to the music and enjoy the atmosphere.

“Our biggest thing is awareness in Vienna,” Wells said. “We were hoping the artists would bring in an audience.”