Baatin Muhammad plays the keyboard as his band, Baatin and Top Secret, performs the opening set of the city of Jonesboro's second annual Jazz Under the Stars concert Friday. The event capped off the Atlanta Jazz Festival's 31 Days of Jazz program.
JONESBORO Baatin Muhammad had to wait a year but he finally got to perform at Jonesboro’s Jazz Under the Stars concert Friday.
Muhammad missed an opportunity to perform at last year’s concert because of rain but he opened the second annual concert with mix of blues, R&B and pop music with his band, Baatin and Top Secret. Their collection of songs, ranging from a blues song he wrote titled “The Government Blues” to a cover of the Temptations’ “Papa was a rolling Stone,” set the evening’s tone by getting audience members to sway, tap their toes and dance to the beat.
And the rain stayed away this time.
“It felt great,” said Muhammad about getting to give the performance he was denied last year. “There was great weather this year, a great audience and great musicians here.”
The concert was one of the final events of the Atlanta Jazz Festival’s 2013 31 Days of Jazz program and audience members said they were pleased with the event. The goal of the program is to introduce jazz to areas of metro Atlanta that may not get as much exposure as other areas.
Participating communities are also encouraged to feature Atlanta area performers. In addition to Baatin and Top Secret, the concert also featured saxophonists Xavier Scott and Jason Bitten and their respective bands. Baatin is from Atlanta while Bitten lives in Peachtree City and Scott is the children’s services librarian at the Lovejoy Library branch.
Tommy Garner of Riverdale said he thought the concert was the best of all of the 31 Days of Jazz events — and he went to all of them this year. He praised the city for everything from the assortment of music styles to the abundance of parking at Lee Street Park, where the concert was held.
“It was a very good event,” Garner said. “Each group kept getting better and better. I liked the variety, I liked the family setting and I loved the parking.”
City Councilwoman Pat Sebo told some audience members after the concert that while the city provided some limited funding for the concert, it was business sponsorships that made the event possible without an admission cost. Sebo was the concert’s organizer.
The concert’s sponsors included Clayton News Daily, Watkins Funeral Home, Fincher Denmark Williams and Minnifield LLC, Fulton and Kozak, Heritage Bank, Paragon Alarm Systems and Tara Wrecker.
“Even though we’ve had a little bit of money we can put in our budget for concerts, it doesn’t cover something like this so we have to rely on those outsides sources to bring it to you for free,” Sebo said.
The second annual Jazz Under the Stars concert drew close to 1,000 people, more than about 300 people who attended last year. Jazz aficionados continuously filed into the concert throughout the night.
Virtually every audience member brought a blanket or lawn chairs and many of them brought dinner. As the sun set, some people began lighting candles and tiki torches to give them extra light.
“The energy was great,” said Bitten. “We just did what we love to do. I’m honored to be here.”
There were Clayton County residents who attended the concert but the crowds also included people from across the Southern Crescent and even the north side of Atlanta.
Kwame Adams of Snellville was one of several patrons who said they heard about the event through word of mouth. Adams attended the concert with Kindra Battles of Riverdale.
“We’re here because a friend of ours told us about it,” said Adams. “She’s a singer and she’s here to perform.”
The friend to whom Adams referred was Theresa Morton. She provided vocals for one of the songs in Bitten’s set.
Battles said it was good to see a concert of this type in Clayton County. She said it was good for the county because it was the type of event that counters the negative image sometimes portrayed of it.
“I hope it continues,” said Battles. “It’s a good, positive outlet for the community and that’s something we need more of in this county.”
Linda Richardson of Jonesboro said she hopes to see it grow and receive more publicity in the future so it can someday become an anticipated annual major event. She heard about it from a co-worker at the Clayton County Tax Commissioner’s Office and brought her son, Kevin, with her.
“I think having this concert was a good idea,” said Richardson. “We just need to get more people to support it in the future.”