The four-city 2003 Verizon Music Festival kicks off in New York City in May but is a bit different than the previous two incarnations. Instead of a fall festival, the Verizon Music Festival is now a spring/summer festival with New York, NY scheduled for May 16-18, Tampa, FL June 11-14, Washington, DC June 27-29 and Los Angeles, CA July 24-27.
"Verizon wanted the festivals in the thick of things in the cultural calendar," John Phillips, president of Festival Productions, told Celebrity Access. "August is too slow and September too congested, plus they wanted to push their marketing campaign for spring and early summer."
"This year we have custom picked an exciting lineup of artiste that reflect the cultural character of the city in which they perform," added George Wein, CEO of Festival Productions and producer of the Verizon Music Festival. For example, Norah Jones is only performing in Tampa.
"We're pleased to be working with Verizon again and anticipate that audiences in each city will enjoy's this year's program," said Wein.
Also, some of the venues for 2003 have lesser capacities than in 2002. Phillips plays down reports of less than expected turn out last year especially in New York by stating, "We did not compare capacities with last year. We did very well last year, but it was more about getting prestige halls."
Last year in New York, Verizon played Carnegie Hall but, according to Phillips, wanted to play Lincoln Center. But since the larger Avery Fisher Hall was booked, they contracted the smaller Alice Tully Hall instead, and instead of the free outside concert at the larger Battery Park, they opted for the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center, where some of the production costs would be far cheaper.
Some of the headlining R&B, Latin, soul and jazz talent includes Norah Jones, Erykah Badu, George Benson, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Bo Diddley, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Gillian Welch.
As an added feature this year, the Verizon Music Festival will include a club series featuring one-night engagements in Philadelphia, Washington and New York. The Club Series will feature R&B, soul and reggae artists and appeal to a young, urban audience.
"In three years, the Verizon Music Festival has become one of the most widely anticipated events on the concert scene," said Bruce Gordon, president of Verizon's Retail Markets unit. "Quality artists at quality venues means quality entertainment for our customers. The Verizon Music Festival showcases some of the best artists in varying music genres, all reflecting the individual interests of Verizon's diverse communities."
The Verizon Music Festival will include ticketed concerts and free events to be held at a variety of venues ranging from concert halls to intimate clubs and outdoor sites. Venues include Alice Tully Hall and the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center, The Apollo Theater and the Copacabana in New York; Tampa's Performing Arts Center, Mahaffey Theater, Jannus Landing, Skipper's Smokehouse and Coachman Park; Constitution Hall, Freedom Plaza, and Lisner Auditorium in Washington, and UCLA's Royce Hall, Wadsworth Theatre, Old Pasadena's Central Park and the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.