Lancaster Avenue: The Community Education Center Holds Fifth Monthly Jazz show
The Community Education Center, in partnership with the Producer’s Guild, held their fifth jazz show in celebration of Second Friday on Lancaster Avenue last month.
The show, which kicked off at 7 p.m. and wrapped up around 10 p.m., featured Kimpedro’s NU Gruv Network with a special appearance by Drexel graduate and jazz pianist, Kendrah Butler. For a $10 cover charge, guests were invited to enjoy wine and snacks while listening to a continuous stream of great jazz from the local band. According to Leo Gadson, co-founder of the Producer’s Guild, the show brought in about 40 people for an intimate experience.
“We want people to see what is going on with Lancaster Avenue as another hub for people to come in and out to,” said Gadson.
The Producer’s Guild started promoting Second Friday shows at the CEC back in September 2013. Gadson, along with his business partner Jerome Roberts, began promoting jazz bands back in 2010 after Gadson retired from a long career in food service management.
The two were introduced to each other by George Stevens, president of the Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association. They have been enlisted in helping the People’s Emergency Center to bring in bands to promote music in the area.
The CEC, located on 35th street and Lancaster Avenue, was founded in 1973 as a community center to bring members of all ages, races and socio-economic backgrounds together. Eventually, the center more frequently became used for art programs and built a community where artists around the city could support each other. In recent years, the CEC has begun to lose funding due to budget cuts, causing them to make cuts of their own, including their successful after school program.
Second Friday, which had been on hiatus in recent years, was recently given a boost by the People’s Emergency Center.
The hope is that events like Second Friday on Lancaster Avenue will help bring people from around the city out to the once successful commercial corridor and help generate revenue. More specifically, Gadson expressed that he would like the jazz shows to bring more people in to the CEC to remind them of what the center does for the community and its artists.
In the upcoming months, The Producer’s Guild will hold shows on both second and fourth Fridays at the CEC to draw in more people. In the future, Gadson would like to start promoting reggae and blues-rock to add more variety to the shows.
After just a few months hosting these events, the CEC’s program director, Theresa Shockley said that she is hopeful that more people will continue to turn out.
“It’s a shame that such wonderful things are happening and we are not able as yet to get a lot of people to come out,” she said. “But we’re doing better and we’re gonna keep plugging at it.”
Currently, the Producer’s Guild does not make money from the shows because all the proceeds are given directly to the musicians who play.
The Producer’s Guild is currently working on putting together the Lancaster Avenue Jazz Festival, which will be held on July 19th. The all-day-affair, which starts at noon, will be hosted by People’s Emergency Center and will consist of more than 10 jazz bands, both touring and local.
“All you got to do is bring a lawn chair,” says Gadson.
– Text, video and images by Katelynn Luczkow and Milena Corredor