Edgefest 2020:
Partial to the Edge

Preparations for Edgefest 2020, scheduled for four days in October, were all but complete when the now ongoing national health crisis hit the nation, shutting down businesses and necessitating the practice of social distancing for months, creating much uncertainty about the near future and requiring us to cancel all in person performances. Given all the work that had gone into this and the joyous anticipation among artists and fans alike, this was a difficult and painful decision, but one that had to be made to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone involved. 

But as we promised at the time, we have been hard at work preparing an alternative way of keeping the spirit of Edgefest 24 alive as we pivot towards and look forward to the grand twenty-fifth edition of the festival in October of 2021.

We can now announce that a six-event schedule of streaming performances by a wonderful collection of musicians, arranged for the most part to adhere to the original brass theme “Partial to the Edge,” has been developed, with many thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts and our other generous donors. Each online concert event (one per month from October through March) will feature major artists from all over the country with opening sets by distinguished musicians from the southeast Michigan area. The roster of national artists is set and we will be completing the Michigan artist roster over the next few weeks. All events will take place on a Friday evening at 7:30 p.m.; other details will follow soon.

This unique Edgefest series will kick off on October 23 with the group Purple Gums, a freely improvising brass ensemble featuring Bobby Bradford (cornet), Francis Wong (tenor saxophone), and William Roper (tuba & voice). We are particularly thrilled to welcome back the magnificent Bobby Bradford, whose musical artistry, storytelling, and collaborative spirit contributed so much to the success of last year’s Edgefest.

Preceding Purple Gums will be two of Detroit’s finest and most versatile improvisers, woodwind multi-instrumentalist Skeeter Shelton and drummer Djallo Djakate. Coming up will be Steve Swell (trombone) & Dave Sewelson (baritone sax) on November 20, Jen Baker (trombone) & Dave Douglas (trumpet) on Dec. 18, Jaimie Branch (trumpet) on Jan.22, Jason Kao Hwang’s Human Rights Trio (JH, violin, Ken Filiano, bass, Andrew Drury, percussion) on Feb. 19, and the Joe Daley (tuba), Warren Smith (percussion), Scott Robinson (sax and other instruments) Trio on March 26 (with area performer opening sets to be announced).

TOP: Purple Gums, with (from left) Bobby Bradford, William Roper and Francis Wong