Bethany Blues resurrects Sydney’s Sunday Jazz Festival jam

by Dave on October 14, 2010

Sydney Arzt, owner of the region’s premier jazz club for 20 years and Bethany Blues managing partner Kevin Roberts introduce their new jazz venue to the public in 2009. Georgia Leonhart photo.

Old and new combine to create a classic Jazz Festival experience at Bethany Blues in Lewes, as Sydney Arzt, an original founder of the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, hosts her first jazz festival weekend in five years.

Former owner of Sydney’s Side Street, later known as Sydney’s Blues and Jazz Restaurant, Arzt provided one of the hottest jazz venues in the nation for two decades before selling her business in 2006. Her Jazz Festival Jam, held Sundays at the close of each annual festival, became such a popular event that almost all tickets were sold in advance and any remaining disappeared within hours of online sales.

Sydney’s Jazz Jam was over, but her passion for live music survived and Jazz Festival 2009 set the stage for the beginning of relationships that would result in the birth of the newest, most extraordinary jazz venue at the beach – at Bethany Blues.

Bethany Blues opened at its Lewes location in 2009 and its managing partner Kevin Roberts wanted to bring quality live year-round music back to the beach. Roberts says that a statement made by sultry jazz vocalist Peggy Raley during the 2009 jazz Festival touched his heart.

“Peggy said that when we lose venues for live music, the community loses a piece of its soul, and I agree,” Roberts said. “We needed a quality venue for live music. I needed to do my part to help save our artistic sense and the intimacy, magic and spontaneity of jazz.”

Collaborating with Arzt, Roberts launched the monthly Sydney’s Music Revival series at Bethany Blues. Following its start on January 8, a new stage was constructed before the February performance, and by March, the event had grown from monthly to bi-weekly to weekly.

This weekend marks the first Jazz Festival weekend for Sydney’s Music Revival at Bethany Blues, and Arzt has mustered an incredible array of musical talent to celebrate her return to the festival.

The Benji Porecki Project, featuring Porecki with Bryan Fox, Steve Taylor, Deren Blessmen and Mike Ault, appears 9 p.m. Friday, with jazz and funk classics, R&B and blues.

Highlighting the weekend is blues guitarist, songwriter and singer Ray Schinnery, appearing 9 p.m. Saturday with special guest Shirley King – the daughter of Schinnery’s greatest influence, blues great B.B. King.

Then the Sydney’s Music Revival becomes complete with an incredible return to the classic Jazz Festival Jam to benefit Delaware Charitable Music and Read Aloud Delaware. Hosted by Peggy Raley and Sherman Ward, the Sydney’s Music Revival and BBQ Buffet Event features performances by Deanna Bogart, Johnny Neel, Shirley King, Keith Mack, Ed Shockley, The Funsters, David Raynor, Elwood Bishop, Big Hat No Cattle, Comfort Zone and more. All musicians are volunteering their time for the benefit.

Three-day event passes for the Friday and Saturday performances and Sunday jam and buffet cost $60 and individual event tickets are available at $15 for Friday, $15 for Saturday, and $40 for Sydney’s Music Revival and BBQ Buffet on Sunday. For more information telephone 644-2500 or visit www.

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