The 10th anniversary of the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival will have to wait until year 11.
Mayor Tim Dougherty on Thursday announced that the free daylong event, scheduled for Aug. 15, 2020, has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is with great sadness the festival committee has determined that there is too much risk in having a gathering of our size on the Morristown Green,” Dougherty said, “so this summer’s 10 anniversary celebration for the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival has been postponed until August 21, 2021.
“I know everyone looks forward to this annual event, and the impact of not holding this summer’s show will be felt deeply by the entire community, but the safety of everyone is paramount.”
That point was underscored by the death of Festival favorite Bucky Pizzarelli. The legendary jazz guitarist, who gave some of his final performances on the historic Green, succumbed to COVID-19 in April. He was 94.
Every August, the Festival has drawn thousands to Morristown to hear such jazz and blues stars as Robert Randolph, Davy Knowles, Bernard Allison, Charlie Musselwhite, Robben Ford, Bria Skonberg and Grover Kemble.
MEMORIES: Great moments from nine years of the Morristown Jazz & Blues Fest. Click / hover on images for captions:
“We felt that because there was no way to keep people safe, we had no choice but t postpone it for a year,” said Festival co-promoter Don Jay Smith.
Many other major festivals already have been cancelled, as bans against large gatherings continue.
The Montclair Jazz Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, Mostly Mozart and the Xponential Festival are among events that won’t be happening this season, according to Linda Smith, co-promoter of Morristown’s festival.
The New Jersey Uke Fest, scheduled for August in Morris Township, also is off. And Madison’s Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, still recovering from a ransomware attack last year, on Thursday said it’s postponing its popular summer outdoor stage series.
This year’s Morristown jazz fest lineup had not been announced, and fundraising had not started in earnest because of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, Smith said.
Dougherty conceived of the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival as a way to promote downtown restaurants and shops. It is underwritten by sponsors.
The Festival coincided with the town’s resurgence, as new luxury apartments and condos opened and the Mayo Performing Arts Center put Morristown on the regional entertainment map.