WESTFIELD, NJ — Nikki Briar’s website describes her as a “hot, sassy, country rocker.” On Tuesday night, her performance at an outdoor concert here could most aptly be described as family-friendly.
Children danced and high-fived Briar as she and her Sweet Briar Band performed on Quimby Street, which was turned into a pedestrian plaza for the summer’s first evening of Westfield’s Sweet Sounds Downtown Music Festival.
“Come on guys. It’s Tuesday night. Come on Westfield,” said Briar, rallying the crowd at the free outdoor concert.
Run by Downtown Westfield Corporation, the annual festival previously called the “Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival,” was redubbed the “Sweet Sounds Downtown Music Festival.”
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The festival is in its 23rd year, organizers said. At least 300 people showed up on Quimby Street, and organizers estimated that with the other three music venues included even more people than that enjoyed the evening, despite rain threatening to put a damper on the music.
Jazz vocalist Carrie Jackson performed for audiences on the front lawn of the First Baptist Church on Elm Street. Jazz saxophonist Bradford Hayes had audiences tuned in front of the restaurant Turning Point on Central Avenue. And local band 3rd Gear rocked for audiences at Foundation Park.
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Mike Scerbo, along with his wife, Ashley, and 2-year-old daughter, were among the families to enjoy the evening out. The Scerbos ate dinner at a local Italian restaurant and could be found listening to Briar’s tunes on Quimby Street.
“We liked the jazz festival last year so we were happy to hear what they would do this year,” said Mike Scerbo. “We ate at Ferraro’s, and here we are.”
Maxine Husbands Brown, a fan of Jackson, heard that the jazz vocalist would be performing in Westfield and, although a rainstorm threatened to delay the show, Husbands Brown was pleased the fair weather held out.
“It was worth coming out,” said Husbands Brown, who lives in nearby Plainfield. “It was worth the threatening weather to make sure we had this enjoyment. It has been wonderful.”
On July 9, the Latin jazz band The Joe Taino Group will perform along with blues group Secret Sound and the indie-folk Americana Group, The Campfire Flies. The band Algorhythm will perform jazz.
For the full lineup, click here on the website of Downtown Westfield Corporation.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh