Bob Draga has been a staple of the Pentastic Hot Jazz and Music Festival for more years than he can remember, and it’s one that he plans to keep coming back to.
“It’s been 15 years and more, I think,” said Draga.”I’m getting to the point now where I don’t want to travel so much, but there are some festivals that are just more than a festival. That’s one thing about Penticton. It’s so much more than just a festival. It’s family. It really is a reunion, meeting friends and family again.”
The jazz clarinetist is bringing his friends along with him for the festival from Sept. 6 to 8. Draga lives in Florida, and his friends are based in Sacramento, but they all fly up together to perform every year. Draga is one of few clarinetists that aren’t symphony players, and that has afforded him many options when it comes to choosing what festivals to play.
People can look forward to a mix of styles from Draga and his Friends. From classic swing to classic rock’n’roll in the style of icons such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis, it’s music that can bring people to their feet so they can “dance like crazy.”
The atmosphere of Penticton and the Pentastic Hot Jazz and Music Festival is a large part of what keeps bringing Draga back.
“In 40 years of travelling, I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been in little cities and I’ve been in big cities, and every place in between,” said Draga. “There’s something about Canada, there’s something about going to Penticton, it’s like your home. People treat you like gold, and it’s so much fun to be there with people.
“I could live in Canada tomorrow and be a very happy man. You know, the food’s better. The fruit is better. The climate is better. About the only thing I could find to complain about is the price of my Jack Daniels.”
Festival-goers can look forward to more than just music from Draga and Friends. The clarinetist is a believer in giving audiences a rounded show and does his best to make sure that people leave the performance feeling that they have gotten their money’s worth.
“You can hire a band to come out and play, and for some bands, the music stands alone,” said Draga. “People want to be entertained, to have a show where in between songs the guys are willing to tell a couple of one-liners, to make them feel good, make them laugh. That’s something I’ve always incorporated into my bands, making people laugh, interacting with them.”
Tickets for the festival are on sale now, and even if you aren’t a jazz lover, it’s a weekend of entertainment that is hard to ignore.
“If people in Penticton want to laugh, and sing, and clap their hands, and dance, and just enjoy some fun music; they need to go to the festival,” said Draga. “It’ll be the best weekend they can spend.”
For the schedule of Draga’s performances, the full list of bands, and to purchase tickets, you can go to the Festival website at Pentasticjazz.com.
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