Karen Gordon has earned her position as Augusta’s premier promoter of jazz music.
On Sunday, Sept. 2, Gordon will add another feather to her cap, as she produces the inaugural Commons Jazz Festival & ArtWalk (formerly the Uncommon Jazz Festival).
Gordon said the event is a blend of talented artisans and some of the area’s best jazz musicians.
The Commons Jazz Festival & ArtWalk kicks off at 2 p.m. and is free until 6 for patrons to enjoy the vendors and artists, including caricature painters and other hands-on activities for children.
Food vendors with funnel cakes, Italian ice and other “fair food” will also be on site, she said.
After 6 p.m., admission is $20 for adults, $15 for students, senior citizens and military; ages 12 and under are admitted free. That’s when live jazz will be featured on the Augusta Common stage. The performers will include London Arrington’s Dirty Jazz, Augusta Young Lions with saxophonist Joel Cruz, guitarist Elliott Holden, Buzz Clifford Band and Kickin’ Brass of Fort Gordon.
Gordon, who heads Garden City Jazz, says she wants everyone who attends the festival to leave with a sense that downtown Augusta remains a secure and safe zone for individuals and families. After the First Friday event in July, a shooting in the 900 block of Broad Street injured six people, prompting discussions about downtown security.
Gordon is a board member of the Downtown Augusta Alliance, a merchants group not tied to the government that she said is charged with finding ways to maintain downtown Augusta as safe and attractive for everyone.
“People should not worry about coming downtown and supporting this event, or any other downtown event,” Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Tuesday.
“Our problems have usually occurred at one or two in the morning after First Fridays have concluded. I assure you, downtown is safe,” he said.
“There’s a lot to love about downtown Augusta,” said Gordon. “As the state’s second-largest city, we’re experiencing growing pains, but we shouldn’t focus on the negative. Downtown is safe. But the ones who complain about downtown – many of them never come downtown anyway. So why complain?”