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Jazz by the River concert returns June 6

For the fourth straight year, locals are invited to sit by the river and enjoy a picnic with friends and family while listening to the sounds of a local jazz artist. And the proceeds go to a good cause.

The Washington Street Community Center is hosting its annual Homegrown Jazz on the River fundraiser Friday, June 6 from 7-11 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at the Porterdale Mill Lofts, 109 Main St., Porterdale.

Tickets are $25 and pay for entry into the event; they can be purchased ahead of the time from the center, 4138 School St. SW, Covington, or at the door. Attendees are invited to bring their own picnic baskets (alcohol is allowed on site), but no food or drink will be sold at the event; bottled water will be available for free.

This year’s homegrown talent is Xavier Gordon, a Conyers native who recently graduated from Georgia State University where he studied jazz piano performance. Gordon, who is in the minister of music at Peeks Chapel Baptist Church in Conyers, writes and performs his own jazz music and covers other artists and said he plays both straight-ahead jazz and smooth jazz.

His three-hour performance June 6 will be mostly smooth jazz, including both old and new school R&B songs by artists like Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and Stevie Wonder. Some of the songs will be pure music, with some jazz solos, and Gordon will also sing on some of the songs.

“Old school R&B, funk stuff,” Gordon said.

Gordon will be on the piano, while Marcus Williams will play the drums and Blake Gaines, the director of bands at Mississippi Valley State University, will play bass.

Event organizer Vender Maddox said Jazz on the River is one of the community center’s main fundraisers and it needs the support.

“Private dollars are getting fewer and there are a lot of people really vying for that same dollar. Even some of the government funding has been cut, and it’s so important for people to come out and support event so we can continue to provide quality services at Washington Street,” Maddox said.

The center’s Executive Director Bea Jackson said she’s hoping to raise at least $20,000 in profits to help the center fund it’s approximately $175,000 budget. The historic center is best known for its afterschool tutoring program, though it also offers several enrichment programs.

Maddox said the event has been so popular in past years, because there’s nothing else like it in the area.

“We have it right by the river, which has great ambiance and is a great atmosphere,” Maddox said. “You don’t have to travel 35 miles to an amphitheater or larger facility in Atlanta to get the same experience.”

For more information about the event, call the center at 770-786-4002. To learn more about Gordon and to listen or purchase his music, including his new album being released in July, visit his website,