President’s Message


Blue Jay Jazz Festival 2024

Selecting who’s in, who’s out, and who’s a pie in the sky, is a delicate dance between balancing audience appreciation, budget and introducing fresh unexpected talent.

On a cold December evening, a handful of BJJF board members and advisors gather at my home. We set up video and audio camp around my kitchen table surrounded by a shameless arsenal of food and drink crowned by a steaming pot of homemade gumbo.

The gathering becomes a boisterous dive into our headliner selections. With calculator and scribbled list of artists labeled favorite, affordable, new and unexpected, we balance new artists with big names – seeking to create a musical journey sure to keep the crowd grooving from start to finish. First choices, then back-up choices, it’s magical as it comes together!

The 2024 Blue Jay Jazz Festival, will take place August 22 to 24, 2024 in Lake Arrowhead. Stay tuned, our star studded new lineup promises to captivate music lovers like never before. Grammy-Award winner Poncho Sanchez opens the festival on August 22 with his fiery stew of jazz, gritty soul, and infectious Latin rhythms, a mountain favorite.

The group agrees cool and hot is a perfect balance for the Saturday,  August 24 show headlining piano sensation John Proulx (pronounced Pru), who’s cool tenor voice and exceptional piano technique has elicited comparisons with Chet Baker. Joining Proulx is former Ray Charles Raylette Valarie Geason, whose soulful, straight out of the church vocals are sure to burn the house down.

Hold off on those late summer vacation plans, because our Friday August 23 headliner will blow you away! So don’t miss out as we add to our growing list of notables such as Patrice Rushen, Eric Marienthal, Lao Tizer, George Whitty Karen Briggs, Greg Adams, Jessy J and Jeff Kashiwa and many raising stars including jazz trumpeter Chris Botti.

Festival co-founders Dr. Hugh Bialecki and wife Lori Semeniuk recall chauffeuring Chris Botti from LAX in their vintage Volkswagen bus. Botti who was largely an unknown, was part of a 90’s festival lineup atop the Rite Aid Drugstore in Blue Jay. His career exploded into a gateway of headline arena shows with the likes of Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion and Andre’ Bocelli.

BJJF has built a reputation for bringing the best of the best to Lake Arrowhead.  Buoyed by a gratitude centered mission and personal coaching with visiting musicians, our annual scholarship winners perform side by side with jazz powerhouses at our Festival.

If all this sounds like a bowl of gumbo, here’s a take from the ‘King of Latin Jazz’. “You don’t go to a Poncho Sanchez concert to sit in your seat. You can’t.  My explosive grooves blast you to your feet. Come bring a picnic, we’re going to jump, shout and shimmy.”

Festival tickets go on sale June 1, 2024. For Friday, August 23 details and other information, visit us at

Chris Levister
President, Blue Jay Jazz Foundation