.Healdsburg Jazz Festival Comments Taken Down; Reposted Here

As reported earlier, the Healdsburg Jazz Festival’s Board of Directors last month fired festival founder and artistic director Jessica Felix. And guess what? People were mad! Musicians who played the festival vowed to return only if Felix was back on as artistic director, sponsors who contributed $25,000 per year pledged to cease their financial support in Felix’s absence, and fans lamented the very plain and obvious fact that firing Felix is tantamount to ripping out the heart of the festival.
All this happened in the comments section of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival’s website. It was a lively forum of voices—mostly smart, some funny, all of them upset—but apparently, it was too much for the Board of Directors to handle. All the comments were removed from the site yesterday. Says the home page: “For further comments, please email us at [email protected].”
I’ve made my opinions on the matter of Felix’s firing pretty clear so far, but this latest action of erasing people’s public comments is completely atrocious. So with the aid of Google cache, here’s the collected 46 comments that were taken down from the Healdsburg Jazz Festival’s site. Click through below to read them all, and feel free to continue to comment below.
[UPDATE: It worked! Felix is back and so is the festival. Read here.]

1. Bill Donoghue on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 10:07 am:
Think these actions through one more time; you might see it differently if you held a public town meeting on the Festival. Together, we have something very special in this town.
I moved from Seattle WA to Healdsburg CA because of the jazz festival and the local jazz, wine and restaurant scene (Plus, of course, the very warm and friendly people of Healdsburg and the area.
I have continually been encouraged by the enthusiasm, effectiveness and musical vision and contract of Jessica Felix who has become the “heartbeat of the city. Her support of literally hundreds of local Northern California musicians has nurtured a music scene with a world-wide reputation.
Both the Healdsburg Jazz Festival and the four-to-five night a week jazz scene have become an increasingly-important part of Healdsburg’s national reputation. This action of cancelling next year’s festival and “sacking” Jessica Felix could be the worst thing that ever happened to this lovely town.
Are their prohibitionists out there ready to eliminate the wine tasting rooms, harass visitors with parking tickets, use regular inspections to close the restaurants on “trumped up” charges, are we going to double real estate taxes or have out won sales tax to encourage the local boutiques to close.
I doubt it; Healdsburg’s strength is that we encourage the growth and health of local businesses, wineries and restaurants.
Let’s admit that the Board has a financial challenge ahead of itself,, that it needs Jessica Felix to maintain the reputation and focus of the festival — this year’s was one of the best ever — and “cajole” world class musicians to play here using that unique Healdsburg hospitality to welcome and entertain them.
You might have discussed this more forcefully with the Festival members and ticket buyers and sought a middle-ground such as a temporary merging to some local festivals until the economic crisis pasts. Let’s make a long-term commitment to making it work instead of giving up in the face of intermediate-term challenges.
A Can-Do, Keep-the-beat-moving, Healdsburg hospitality-driven plan is needed and no one knows how to do that as well as Jessica Felix. You can find a different administrator who can do some of the administrative work but you won’t find a hard-nose, persistent, experienced festival director with the musical vision of Jessica Felix.
Let’s keep Healdsburg jazz-friendly and hip and keep the big city music advantages in our cozy little town.
Build the Festival and Jazz Scene and they will come.
Bill Donoghue
2. Dorothy Darr on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 11:25 am:
I have worked with Jessica Felix since 1997 when she presented Charles Lloyd and Billy Higgins in a world premiere duo concert at the Raven Theater. The idea of a “jazz concert” in Healdsburg was almost like speaking in a foreign language. But through her passion for the music and loving care for each individual involved, no matter how famous they are, or are not, Jessica has opened the ears and hearts of the Healdsburg community and schools to all kinds of music.
Jazz is a many splendored thing that comes from this soil – it has many different ways of being expressed, but from its early roots it has always been an evolving art form. Jessica is fully aware of this and has managed to bring a full spectrum of sound to her small town of Healdsburg. As someone who manages and books concerts all over the world, I am well aware of the fact that 2010, in particular is a very very bad for concert attendance, and therefor for the overall financial success of any given concert. We were recently inAthens for the Hellenic Festival, a national event, and they were forced to cancel 1/2 of their concerts for financial reasons, not to mention existing deficits. As were many festivals throughout the world this year. (We were among the fortunate who did not get canceled.) This reference to ‘Pure” jazz is confusing and a misnomer – even smooth jazz or pop acts, have been canceled and or lesser audiences these days. The stamp of a good festival is an artistic director who is knowledgeable about every aspect of jazz and stays true to their personal aesthetic. Trends come and go. Great art lives forever. Jessica Felix has an eye and ear for great art.
3. Fern Dale on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 1:17 pm:
Jessica Felix is the heart and soul of this festival; musicians have booked and participated largely because of her relationship with each of them and for years, well before she arrived in Healdsburg. The Board members have shown little resourcefulness in finding a way to bridge the financial gap. The festival has matured into a widely respected and locally loved annual event. I could not be more disappointed or disgusted by the Board’s actions. Surely there was a better choice than this.
It wasn’t broke but the fix after this move will be sorely uphill. Not to mention the lack of goodwill with the volunteers and community who have supported this event since its inception. I am heartsick and mad.
4. Teri Macias on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 1:44 pm:
Jessica is the “Healdsburg Jazz Festival”, without her direction and musical taste the Festival will loose it’s relevance. Please renegotiate this bad decision.
5. gangoseven on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 2:24 pm:
Maybe the press democrat will sponsor a SMOOOOOTHY JAZZ concert, you know, with some high-class elevator muzak to match
the rest of the paper…
6. Tom Raymondson on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 2:26 pm:
The Healdsburg Jazz Festival is not just a resource for Healdsburg itself, but for those even farther from the traditional urban jazz scene (there is *no* jazz in Ukiah!). I hope the Board’s actions, disheartening on the surface, eventually lead to an even stronger festival (please don’t water it down to make it more “accessible”).
7. Joe A. Mathis on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 2:27 pm:
Mr. Donuhue is being too kind…Too expect the respect and the support of the international jazz community without Ms. Felix is the Board’s delusion. To not have Ms. Felix’s involvement in this Festival is shameful and is much more than this community’s loss. I can only hope she starts anew and another group/city of enlightened souls can truly enjoy and deserve the gifts she brings.
8. Elaine Vickery on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 2:39 pm:
Please rethink this decision. Taking a year off will mean the loss of too many people who likely won’t follow through to another year. Changing the sort of festival to appeal to a wider audience will lose too many stalwarts who come to this one because of the fine quality and purity of the genre. It would become just like too many other events which give little satisfaction to jazz lovers. This is the best jazz festival and if it needs help, please find another way. I believe it is Jessica’s efforts that have attracted such greats to this small-town event which brings so many people to Healdsburg and her hard-work ethic that has held it together.
9. Luci Edwards on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 4:03 pm:
So goes another Jazz Festival. I lived in Montreal and was a member of the festival there for years and watched the festival deteriorate from its “Jazz Standards” to a huge music festival with an almost anything goes attitude toward music. We all know and appreciate other musical forms, but jazz in itself is a wide ranging form and needs no rethinking nor adding to. If you want to have a music festival, fine, but I hope that Jessica has copyrighted the name Healdsburg Jazz Festival and won’t allow it to be used for whatever you come up with. What she needed was more help. She is the festival, that was obvious to me working just this one year as a volunteer. As most of you business people must know, it takes investment of both time and money to make something work. She was the heart and she should have had more people willing to back her. Whatever you’ve got in mind, I fear you will find that many of your true jazz loving, Jessica loving volunteers will not be there to pitch in. Many of us would walk across hot coals for her because it is so apparent she loves the music and the musicians, because she knows the music and the history of it. What a shame, what a shame!
10. Kira van Hall, on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 4:18 pm:
Jessica Felix is a force. Devoted. Passionate. Relentless. Inspiring. This Board’s decision is indeed shameful and short sighted. The bottom line is always an aspect of any organization. To choose this course of action to remedy matters, surely lacks the inventiveness that defines Jazz. I also hope to see Jessica Felix continue to share her vision and ability make it happen, with a group that has a better appreciation of her rare gifts.
11. David Weber on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 5:46 pm:
The Healdsburg Festival has been described to me as the ” way Monterey used to be” ; it is a jewel in the jazz events of California and the Pacific Coast. Jessica Felix has been the heart, soul and artistic intelligence of the Festival. Don’t let this Festival die. A hiatus is not the answer; new money and fund-raising is. This past year’s fest was notable for having great bargains as well as more expensive choices. Please find the folks with the dollars to support this music.
12. Gary Jaffe on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 8:49 pm:
I have attended the Healdsburg Jazz Festival for the past 10 years — it is a wonderful festival! Over the past 25 years I have consulted to non-profit arts organization staff and Boards. More often than not, Boards do not understand the economics and success drivers of success in the organizations they are presiding over. Yes, it makes sense to temper the enthusiasm of artistic directors with business and financial acumen to ensure a viable, sustainable organization. But what Boards regularly fail to realize is that artistic directors are the revenue drivers and lifeblood of artistic organizations. Such is the case with Jessica Felix. Jessica’s contacts with world class jazz musicians nurtured over the past 30 years at the Keystone Corner in SF as well as other venues is the key reason the Healdsburg Jazz Festival has been successful. The business rationale for the Board’s decision is dubious at best. Without Jessica’s passion and leadership, and absent her ability to draw world class jazz musicians to the festival, future festival revenue will decline much faster than any attempt the Board makes to reduce cost. (This situation will be exacerbated by the Board’s unwise decision to cancel the festival in 2011). Equally unfortunate, without a viable jazz festival, investment and focus in jazz education programs will lose the leverage and artistic base they need to be successful. The Board has seriously shirked its responsibility by not involving the Healdsburg jazz community to help structure go-forward survival/growth options. I can only hope the Board revisits its hasty decision with more appropriate input. Otherwise I look forward to Jessica’s taking her contacts and talents and repeating her Healdsburg success (perhaps a Sebastopol jazz festival?).
13. Marianne Zalubas on Jul 29th, 2010 @ 10:02 pm:
No doubt HJF is facing tough financial conditions. The music industry in general and concerts in particular are facing difficult economic times.
The answer in these times is to redouble efforts to make the art viable. I look at SF Jazz as an example of a festival that continues to bring the best acts to the best venues and markets it well and hopefully continues to thrive. It requires dedication, raising the bar (not diluting it) and even greater promotion.
The unfortunate decision by the HJF board is similar to the boards of many corporations in the US these days. Cut the people, cut the costs, boost profits in the short term. This short sighted attitude is costing us dearly as our manufacturing base has been voluntarily outsourced to Asia. They now have the technology and the industrial capacity. The country is left with boards that will have very little to manage in the not too distant future. Probably the first time in history that a world power has voluntarily dismantled its economic base.
This decision by the HJF board is just another example of how the can-do spirit is withering on the vine even in the wine country. What a shame but not surprising as it reflects the malaise of a lack of vision so pervasive in our country !
14. Healdsburg Jazz Festival Postponed; Jessica Felix Ousted | City Sound Inertia Bohemian post on Jul 30th, 2010 @ 7:50 am:
[…] more, festival founder and Artistic Director Jessica Felix has been voted out by the Board, and will no longer be a part of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival she started 12 years […]
15. Jerry on Jul 30th, 2010 @ 8:42 am:
Having attended for the last nine years (and making it from Seattle to boot) this is extremely disheartening….
Obviously attendance has been down the last two years. No surprise given the fact that people are looking for work and can no longer borrow money against their homes for vacations. But shutting down this valuable performance venue and tourist attraction is not a long term solution for Sonoma County.
i second the thoughts expressed here regarding the need for more fund raising, the need to continue the level of jazz performances seen in years past into the next year (and beyond) and the need to keep Ms Felix in her role as Artistic Director.
Let’s cut the BS here and tell us how we can help!!
16. Wendy Nicholson on Jul 30th, 2010 @ 9:37 am:
It’s dangerous to mess with the soul of an organization. Boards have a responsibility to seek creative solutions, involve all the necessary parties, and keep loyalty at the forefront. I agree with many of the comments here, and feel that the HJF has lost a crucial and vital component without it’s founder, Jessica Felix.
I will be most interested to follow Jessica’s future endeavors, and will be in the audience to hear jazz that she brings to our area, which I hope she does. Give credit where credit is due – and she’s got my vote.
17. Robin Pressman on Jul 30th, 2010 @ 9:48 am:
No surprise that receipts are down for the festival. Everyone is having trouble. But, as Gabe Meline mentions in his blog, Jessica’s programming of the festival brought top artists and sold out shows. As the creative visionary and guiding force of this event, she should be part of the solution to dwindling ticket sales and sponsorship, not pushed aside. This is an all too common
occurence on non profit boards – people acting with a corporate mind and not using their resources, especially their human and intellectual resources to their fullest.
Surely there is some other way to rebuild the festival without destroying its foundation.
18. Kathy and Randy Vincent on Jul 30th, 2010 @ 1:44 pm:
I cannot imagine the Healdsburg Jazz Festival without Jessica Felix. Jessica IS the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. She started it and she has worked long and hard to bring it to where it is. The Festival is recognized and respected as the one with “real” jazz. Who could possibly fill her shoes?
She not only produces the best festival she works year round to keep jazz alive in Healdsburg and provides the opportunity for local musicians to play in various venues. We need Jessica!
19. ken Colmar on Jul 30th, 2010, @ 2:27 pm:
As a huge fan of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival from the beginning, I was very dissapointed Jessica Felix was let go. If you wanted to experience great jazz locally, Jessica Felix made it happen. She is passionate, driven, connected and very resourceful.
Hopefully, Kenny G will not be appearing in 2012. !
20. kanti Pike on Jul 30th, 2010 @ 5:26 pm:
I was stunned and saddened beyond belief that the board would be so blind and heartless to the originator of this incredible one of a kind event, Jessica , the great, Felix! You all should be relieved of your post! You have no vision. Fifth graders are important but the town and the residents from near and far look forward to this annual event more than you’ll ever know. We are seeing some of the greats that Jessica knows personally Value cannot always be measured in dollars and cents. Small is Beautiful…we just need to find a new way to do this! This is a gem and you have missed the boat! Please reconsider. Jessica should be given a fine vacation, all expenses paid, not let go!
21. Terry Poplawski on Jul 30th, 2010 @ 7:48 pm:
You have got to be kidding! I belonged to Jessica’s “Jazz In Flight” and attended the Eddie Moore Jazz Festival when Jessica was in the East Bay, driving regularly to shows at Yoshi’s from Ukiah. I was ecstatic when “Pure Jazz” came less than an hours drive to Heladsburg. In addition to the great HJF, I treasured the weekly presentations at various venues in Healdsurg. It is a dream to think that Jazz has any future in Healdsburg without Jessica Felix, I only wish I could assure her Ukiah would be a better venue.
22. Andrea Canter on Jul 31st, 2010 @ 5:48 am:
This is a sad day. I have been able to attend two of the festivals in the past six years (I live in Minneapolis) although each year have been tempted to return given the stellar line-up and jazz-friendly organization and ambience of the festival. These are certainly hard times for music in general and for the smaller festivals, and I am unaware of the inner politics of the Healdsburg organization. But I have witnessed revitalization of our own annual festival which makes me hopeful that Headlsburg can find its way back–sometimes less is more, fewer headliners, more local talent, a wider net of sponsors can be equally satisfying and allow the organization to continue its mission and bring great jazz to the community and beyond. I look forward to returning for another great festival in 2012.
23. GP Radich on Jul 31st, 2010 @ 8:59 am:
Stunned by the termination news. Was there no other alternative the Board could make, after all these years of Jessica’s superhuman tenacity and passionate conviction to the jazz music “sister and brotherhood”? We all will have to start traveling back to Napa and Yoshi’s again to hear the greats.
24. EJ Neil on Jul 31st, 2010 @ 9:18 am:
For the past 10 years we’ve had the pleasure of hosting 18 musicians who were performing at the Jazz Festival. They came from all over the world.To a person, all these artists have commended Jessica Felix for her knowledge of the jazz world, her dedication, and her passion. To them Jessica IS the Jazz Festival, and the reason many of them were here.
We hope the board will reconsider its actions and reinstate the position of Artistic Director. It’s the best for the event and for the community.
EJ Neil and Judy Edmonds, Healdsburg
25. Greg on Jul 31st, 2010 @ 1:39 pm:
I believe that the Board’s decision was very short-sighted, terrifically mis-guided and dishonest. I volunteered at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival for many years and it’s no secret to anyone who has worked around her that Jessica can be terrifically difficult and frustrating to work with. In a way she is like the founders of many organizations who create something wonderful from scratch, but don’t have the full set of skills necessary to manage it as it grows. For example, look at the founders of Google, Yahoo! or Ben and Jerry’s to see what I mean. The mistake that many founders make is in failing to recognize when it’s time to make a change whether that be a change in style in how they manage the organization or bringing someone in to take over parts of the organization which they are not good at handling. Without this recognition of the need for help many founders can become bottlenecks at the top of the organization as they try to micromanage to keep things going. This is, what I believe, has happened to the Jazz Festival.
However, having said that, Jessica is the heart and soul of the festival. Without her connections the festival will not be able to attract the top talent that is a regular part of this small, but wonderful festival. Further, the way the Board has treated Jessica will result in many musicians refusing to play Healdsburg any longer.
Keeping Jessica on as artistic director, but bringing a skilled administrator on to manage the logistics and everything else around the festival is the best solution. It’s a shame that the Board didn’t come up with this solution or seem to really understand the ramifications of what they’ve done.
Instead of getting rid of Jessica while claiming it’s about finances (which is a fig leaf) it sounds like it’s time to put together a new Board. I call for the resignations of the members of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Who’s with me?
26. George Cables on Jul 31st, 2010 @ 6:00 pm:
Removing Jessica Felix from the Healdsburg Jazz Festival is an impossibility. Jessica Felix is the Healdsburg Festival. She built it from nothing to wonderful jazz event. She was able to bring some of the best, most creative, and influential jazz artists around. They came because of Jessica and her commitment to this music. I first met Jessica at the Keystone Korner in the 1970’s and have seen the years of work she’s done in support of this music. This knowledge and those relationships are from a lifelong commitment. This decision is a bad one and I hope the reconsiders and does the right thing.
27. pamela witt on Aug 1st, 2010 @ 8:19 am:
After reading Dan Taylor’s article in the July 29th Press Democrat I suddenly developed a very bitter aftertaste from my café mocha grande.
Jessica Felix is all about the love of the jazz art form. The HJF is her creation and her passion. She brings some of the best jazz players to Healdsburg, something which would never happen without her dedication, drive and above all vision. I have known Jessica for many years and am honored to say I have served as a festival volunteer for the past 4 years. I know about the blood, sweat and tears that go into putting on the annual festival – it’s hard work! But those who participate in and benefit from the festival, from volunteers, donors, sponsors, fans and of course the outstanding musicians, do so because of the love of the art form, those intangible moments in time when the music transcends and real magic happens. This is the essence of the festival Jessica has created.
I am astounded at the arrogance of the current board and their failure to recognize this very important fact. A Starbucks style corporate takeover has no place in the jazz world and in particular, the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.
At stake here is the continuation of a particular venue dedicated to the art of jazz. A festival loved and supported because of what it is and presents. To change the course and particular appeal of the festival while continuing to use the name Healdsburg Jazz Festival would be a travesty. Perhaps the board should reassess its motives and interests. I personally don’t see the point of a board remaining in place which does not support the philosophy of its own organization’s mission and yes, soul.
It’s been heartwarming to see the responses come in from supporters of the jazz festival. I hope people will continue to write in and voice their support and outrage over this turn of events.
28. Curtis Thomson on Aug 1st, 2010 @ 8:50 am:
OK now guys, let me get this straight . . . We sack Jessica Felix (after she’s poured twelve years of her life into what has become internationally recognized has one hell of a small town jazz festival), we cancel the venue for next year (I guess that means I’ll get my current $250 jazz membership contribution refunded) . . .and then, what? We wait until 2012, at which time we “expand the genres” while keeping a “core of exceptional jazz”. . . .?
OK, I have another idea . . . Let’s open a baked potato stand next door to Dry Creek Kitchen (not everyone enjoys “pure” food). Let’s get rid of those pesky wine tasting rooms on the Plaza. Everyone knows how much our out of town visitors hate them. We could replace them with souvenir shops that sell posters and t-shirts (We’ve all seen how well that worked for the town of Sonoma). And while we’re at it let’s shoot ourselves in the foot.
29. Rhonda Benin on Aug 1st, 2010 @ 10:07 am:
Since being introduced to Jessica Felix through drummer Babatunde Lea I”ve consistently worked for The Healdsburg Jazz Festival either as performing artist or teaching artist as faculty in Operation Jazz Band. Jessica Felix opens a cultural window for the residents of Healdsburg to enjoy jazz and witness the magic of live performance and more importantly expose young people to this great American art form.
Jessica Felix has devoted her life to The Healdsburg Jazz Festival and the artform of jazz in its truest form. She doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment.
30. Scott & Sally Evans on Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:26 am:
To the chorus of boos, we add our own. For all the reasons so well expressed, we are shocked at how incredibly short-sighted the board has been in addressing the legitimate financial concerns they describe. By “pausing” the festival and dumping Jessica, Pat Templin has lost the community and jazz a gem. What a shame!
Scott & Sally Evans
Santa Roisa
31. Babatunde Lea on Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 7:40 pm:
I’ve known Jessica from the early days of Loft Jazz. We both were on the board of that organization, that turned into Jazz in Flight. Jessica has finally come full circle to the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, which she has single handedly brought into the world, with labor pains and all!
Jessica enlisted me to help her put together Operation Jazz Band, which we did and now after 10 years it is one of the most beloved programs for kids in Sonoma County. Jessica and I created and named Operation Jazz Band!
As I grow older the quote “truth is stranger than fiction” (who would have ever thought that the HJF would come to this) takes on more and more startling parameters . When one takes the heart and soul out of something or someone, that thing or person becomes a Zombie, if they or it keeps on moving!!!
It is my firm belief that Jessica Felix and the Phoenix are cut from the same cloth. I predict a future where there is a bigger and better Healdsburg Jazz Festival with Jessica Felix leading the way as artistic director…. We must all participate in the same dream and stretch the parameters of “truth is stranger than fiction” even further and help make my prediction a reality.
32. Harry DeCicco on Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 7:54 am:
In light of your decision, it’s clear that you need to change the name of your organization. If you’re not having a “festival”, you shouldn’t call yourself one. You shouldn’t use the word “Jazz”, since you obviously have no love for Jazz as an art form. You’re so ready to abandon such a unique Jazz festival for “other genres”. You’re giving up a Jazz fest that had: world-class artists in small, convenient venues; opportunity for local artists and children to perform; free and/or inexpensive shows; impromptu jams; and so on. I can get lots of “other genre” music at dozens of festivals. I could get real, undiluted Jazz only at one festival – the one that you’re not having next year. You shouldn’t use the word “Healdsburg”. The community is more than just its 5th grade students. It’s also its musicians, music lovers, and art supporters. Never mind that, morally, the name HJF belongs to Jessica Felix, and you have no right to it. To deserve the use of the name HJF, you know what needs to be done.
33. Angela Wellman on Aug 4th, 2010 @ 7:34 am:
I am absolutely dumbfounded by this egregious attempt to silence and control the spirit of Jazz that Jessica Felix lives and breathes and has brought to the people of Healdsburg and its surrounding area! I, like Rhonda Benin, was introduced to Healdsburg Jazz scene through drummer, Babatunde Lea. My group New Roots performed at the HJF several times and before relocating to Madison, WI, I was a regular member of Operation Jazz Band. You have made a grave mistake by firing Jessica Felix. You really do not understand the gravity of your decision. It is likely that Jazz musicians will boycott your town and any attempt to bring any of us to future HJFs will be severely hampered if Jessica is not there. You really must figure out your challenges with her, the founder and creator of the HJF dream and vision.
You wrote: “Jessica Felix who is the founder and artistic director of The Healdsburg Jazz Festival for the past 12 years, will be leaving the organization. Templin said, “The board would like to thank Jessica Felix for her passion and tireless efforts on behalf of the festival since its inception.” She is not simply leaving, you have fired her! And thanking her ” for her passion and tireless efforts on behalf of the festival since its inception.” WHAT! She did not do that “on behalf of the festival since its inception.” She did that on behalf of a National Treasure-JAZZ and the National Treasures who created it. Jessica gets it. Now do the right thing and GET HER BACK.
34. Bill Donoghue on Aug 4th, 2010 @ 8:33 am:
Request for Festival financial statements. What is the proper manner to obtain the Healdsburg Jazz Festival’ latest available financial statements which, as a non-profit organization, I suspect must be publicly available.
If you have a financial problem, it would be helpful to know just how big that problem is before strategizing how to solve it.
Please inform me what I must do to see the organization’s financial statements ASAP.
Respectfully, is the board of directors willing to resign to allow someone to save the Healdsburg Jazz Festival? If they don’t wish to be part of the solution, are they willing to allow someone who would wish to do so. When is the next election of board members scheduled or public discussion of the issues. The economic impact of this action on the town of Healdsburg may be significant and when alternatives are to be discussed it might be wise to do just that. There are enough venues within driving distance to satisfy the needs for Smooth Jazz and Pop performances and the need for a real jazz festival is obvious in this watered-down world.
Please address this request promptly and, if possible, e-mail me the appropriate documents.
35. Doug Jayne on Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:40 am:
The board of directors of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival has really blown it by dismissing the heart and soul of one of the country’s finest celebrations of jazz music.
For 15 years, Jessica Felix put her talent, enthusiasm, heart and soul into this festival. The festival has been losing money the past few years; hey news flash! a lot of us have been losing money the last few years – the economy stinks. It is the board of director’s responsibility to find creative, exciting ways to put butts in the seats; to “think outside the box” if you will.
Board president Pat Templin says “we need to step back and see what we can learn from the community”. (SF Chronicle 8/5/2010) The board could start by reading all of the outraged comments on this website!
The recklessness of the decision to terminate Ms. Felix without predicting the bad will that would be generated makes me think the board of directors should be given the heave-ho, not the artistic director.
36. Carl Vast on Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:57 am:
I have waited until today (August 5) to try to compose a respectful letter in response to the Board’s actions. However, each passing day does not diminish my reaction. So, for now, all I can muster is that I agree with 90% of the comments posted. Those who have submitted comments have done so with passion and intelligence — I would only repeat their words. (BTW, thank you for “taking it on the chin” by having the letters on the website.) I have consistently donated money and performances to support HJF, but am now , uh, “pausing” until the Board corrects its course.
37. Paul Tincknell on Aug 5th, 2010 @ 1:03 pm:
It has taken me until today to be able to post a civil note on the Board’s actions. I came to the Festival as a volunteer five years ago out of a love for jazz. But over the course of these years the Festival has become more about a group of friends bringing great music to Healdsburg, with the emphasis now more on the friends than the music. I worked countless hundreds of hours not just for a few hours of truly great music, but to be with, and help friends do something fun and rewarding.
Jessica is first and foremost my friend. How the Board acted was disrespectful, short-sided, and incredibly stupid – there is no other word for it. Disrespectful to Jessica, the musicians, and all of us volunteers. Short-sided, as in they acted without realizing the backlash the above comments have aptly captured, as well as not having a thought-out plan on how to truly move the Festival forward. And stupid, because they thought us volunteers and Festival devotees would think this was simply and only about the money.
I love all forms of music, and certainly Healdsburg can be a venue for more than just jazz. The Healdsburg Jazz Festival, on the other hand, is ONLY about jazz – that precisely why it is so unique and special to Healdsburg – and the entire music community. I’ve never met anyone with so much love, knowledge, and connections to any form of music more than Jessica, and it is only due to her and her alone that Healdsburg has been a micro-epicenter in the international jazz community. There is no other Festival in the U.S. so uniquely devoted to this singular music art form, and I do include the many more famous ones in this statement; they all bend to include some commercial, popular forms of jazz – for business’ sake.
The Festival is about so much more, though, than music. It fosters a real community, bringing international musicians to this region to meet and interact with the local musicians – and our children. What other Festival has nurtured so much local talent, and reached out so doggedly to bring jazz into the classrooms? This is directly due to Jessica’s undying and visionary commitment to expand the audience for jazz, and create the next generation of musicians and fans. I saw for four years first hand the impact Operation Jazz Band had on our children, on MY children. To read in the press release the Board noting that they will continue Operation Jazz Band – but cancel the Festival – shows how little they understand what OJB sets out to do, and what the Festival is for.
It is with great sadness for me to write that, if my friend Jessica is not with the Festival, than neither am I. My friends are more important to me than the “business” of the Festival. I go where Jessica goes.
38. Eddy Pay on Aug 5th, 2010 @ 4:04 pm:
I was listening to “Piano Jazz” last night and heard pianist Fred Hersch mention his participation in the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. So I couldn’t believe it when I read about the Board of Directors sacking Jessica Felix in the SF Chronicle. Her dedication to assure that everything works smoothly is unequal. The Board of Directors are shooting themselves in the foot and Healdsburg will never be the same if Jessica Felix is not reinstated.
39. Chuck Sher on Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:06 pm:
Is there a way to have the jazz-loving public in Sonoma Co. call for the dismissal of the HJF Board and the reinstatement of Jessica Felix as artistic director? If someone knows the answer to this question, please post a response. We love you, Jessica.
40. John Smith on Aug 7th, 2010 @ 1:29 pm:
The only way to save the Festival now is for the Board to resign and have Jessica Felix reinstated. They should do it now.
41. Kathy M Martin on Aug 8th, 2010 @ 6:17 am:
Since 2007, Santa Rosa Systems (SRS) has been a Major Sponsor of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival (HJF). Our donation was done with no expectation of any commercial benefit flowing back to SRS from our sponsorship. We did this only to give back to the community and to help promote Jazz as an art form. We like the fact that a portion of our sponsorship also helped to teach about jazz in the local schools.
We are deeply troubled to learn just recently that the Board of the HJF has terminated our sole connection as a sponsor to the HJF, Jessica Felix, and the festival that she created and nourished.
This year, despite the global recession and the severe downturn in our business, we once again donated $25,000. Earlier in this year’s fund raising cycle, we were approached by someone who introduced herself as Maggy Howe who announced she was “the fundraiser” for the HJF. We had no linkage to her as Jessica has always been our sole connection to the HJF. This experience caused us to evaluate whether we wanted to continue our support, if the board felt they could remove Jessica as our contact person.
However, Jessica worked hard to mend the relationship and assured us our donation was both needed and would be money well spent to preserve that most American of art forms, Jazz. As usual, Jessica’s’ persistence won out over our resistance.
The sponsorship package that was sent to us made our position of Major Sponsor seem insignificant, as compared to the potential sponsors of the higher levels. All of our benefits were reduced. It was obvious the Board was looking for bigger sponsors than us, wanting to kick SRS to the curb. Ultimately, no other larger sponsors were found, not even another one at our level, making SRS the sole major sponsor for the 2010 Festival. It was only because of our love for jazz and the way Jessica presents it, that we remained a sponsor.
I can only end by saying with a heavy heart that if Jessica Felix is no longer a part of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Santa Rosa Systems, the only 2010 “major” sponsor, will no longer be able to support the HJF.
Kathryn M. Martin,
42. Curtis Thomson on Aug 8th, 2010 @ 7:54 am:
Festival Board Chairman, Pat Templin has been quoted in last Thursdays’ San Francisco Chronicle: “We need to step back and see what we can learn from the community”. Judging by the comments posted to date, it would seem that the community has spoken, although I’m not sure it’s what the board members wanted to hear or if anything has been learned.
If the Board Members are truly interested in community feedback, then why did they wait until they had committed this massacre before letting anyone here know that there was a problem? Granted, money has become a scarce commodity lately, affecting all musical venues, not just jazz.
I firmly believe that there are enough jazz club members and committed lovers of mainstream jazz in our community who would upgrade their contributions to the festival by a few hundred dollars annually given the alternative of no jazz festival at all. This would more than wipe out the current $30,000 and clear the way for a festival in 2011.
I for one, pledge to dig deeper this year and double my jazz club membership level to $500. Is there anyone else out there? The one proviso of course . . . return Jessica Felix as Artistic Director.
43. Martin A. Lee on Aug 8th, 2010 @ 8:39 am: (Kai’s father)
June has been our favorite time of year as jazz enthusiasts and residents of Healdsburg. The board’s decision to suspend the festival and relieve Jessica Felix of her duties as artistic director is a major setback for our family and our community. For many years, Jessica has cultivated relationships with premier jazz artists and has nurtured local talent, including my son, Kai Devitt-Lee, a young guitarist who performed at this year’s festival. I cannot overstate what the jazz festival has meant to Kai and his fledgling musical career. The jazz festival is in debt — that must be addressed. But what about the debt of gratitude we all owe Jessica Felix? That also must be addressed. Without her mentoring and the annual festival that she more than anyone else has been responsible for organizing, my 16-year-old son would not have had such unique opportunities to develop his musical talent. Kai and I urge the board to reconsider its decision to suspend the festival, to reinstate Jessica Felix, and to rededicate itself to holding at least a scaled-down version of the festival next year. And what about the Healdsburg city government? Isn’t it about time that our elected officials stepped up and showed some significant support for an annual event that has put our community on the artistic map?
44. Maurice Blaug on Aug 8th, 2010 @ 9:31 am:
Recently the S.F.Chronicle had an article about the firing of Jessica Felix. I know, you don’t call it that but that is what it is. The article stated the Festival could no longer afford her salary. Did you negotiate at all? To have driven her off the Board and then out of the Festival is nothing more than a power grab by those who want to use the work of Ms. Felix. Without her the Festival is gone. To me there are other ways to continue the Festival none of which the Board seems to have considered. Given all- this I THINK THE BOARD SHOULD RESIGN ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT ARE NOT PART OF THIS OR THE BAY AREA COM
45. Marla Young on Aug 8th, 2010 @ 9:47 am:
Dear Chair and Board Members of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival (HJF),
I am writing to recommend that you reinstate Jessica Felix as the Artistic Director of the HJF. As a founding Board Member of the HJF I have known and worked with Jessica for over 12 years. Since her first concert at the Flying Goat I realized how fortunate Healdsburg is to have a community member with the vision, passion for jazz, and the dedication to develop a world-class jazz festival in our community. I was stunned to hear that the Board had ousted Jessica and cancelled the Festival.
Over the years many volunteers, organizations and businesses have been involved in the Festival and it has become part of the fabric of Healdsburg. Sustaining a loss on the Festival and firing the founder, Artistic Director are two separate issues and the separation of the two is critical.
I understand that it is not feasible to operate a small non-profit at a loss. I also know that timing is critical in the planning of next years’ Festival. There are opportunities for a reorganization of the Festival this year, adding new Board Members, developing ideas and funding to sustain it during these economically difficult times. I believe that Jessica is critical to the survival of the Festival and her direct involvement is necessary for the future of the HJF.
Please consider my request and the wishes of many members of the Healdsburg and Jazz world community, that you reinstate Jessica as the Artistic Director and reappoint her to the Board.
Sincerely, Marla Young
46. Larry Slater, aka ‘thejazzmd’ on Aug 8th, 2010 @ 2:12 pm:
There must be more to this story, because we all know that without Jessica Felix there will be no HJF. The polished statement by the board, repeated in the PD, leaves too much unsaid. Of course no organization can operate with a loss year after year, but if the intent is to continue the festival in some form, Jessica simply must be at the creative helm.
If the intent of the board is to shut the festival down, then I believe they should have the courage to come out and say so.
We already have a smooth jazz/pop festival in Sonoma called “Jazz Plus”, despite the obvious lack of jazz on the program- so let’s not repeat that travesty.
I would suggest the board look at all options ( different timing, so as not to bump into both the Sonoma festival and Mill Valley’s Djangofest,and perhaps a shorter festival ) but they need to bring Jessica back if they want improvisational music in Healdsburg.


  1. Disclaimer: this is just MY opinion and based on MY personal experiences.
    I’ve worked with Jessica Felix since before she started the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Jessica has an incredible commitment to bringing the highest level of Jazz music to the people of Sonoma County. Of course there are lots of things that critics will always to be able to come up regarding someone who has the responsibility that Jessica took on but I really believe that what she has done is above and beyond what just about anyone else in the Bay Area could do and on top of that, SHE DID IT, while everyone else in Sonoma County who possibly COULD have put together a real Jazz Festival just sat on their asses talking sh%t.The main complaints I’ve heard about Jessica include her being “too Jazz”, not hiring commercially successful music (ie: smooth or funk jazz I’d imagine), not hiring local musicians enough and being hard-headed to work with. I think these “complaints” are actually STRENGTHS and QUALITIES that I would want the Artistic Director of my festival to hold onto like a pissed off pitbull.
    As for the politics with the Board of the Festival and all that I don’t know much about it and I do realize that money is tough these days and having a festival with so many “art” acts can be tough to sell tix. I’d suggest SCALING DOWN the festival, do a few key shows that are sure to be successful. I know for a FACT that many of the bigger artists who have played the HJF in the past would absolutely LOVE to lend their support and perform at a discounted guarantee rate in order to help save the festival because of their appreciation to Jessica and the festival.

  2. I don’t know Jessica. I’ve attended the Festival a few times. That’s not the point.
    The point is: If it’s not broke, why fix it? If attendance was down, could it possibly be the general economic climate? To, at the first signs of difficulty, fire the captain of the ship is foolish. You trust your leader to get you thru safely.
    From what I’ve seen, Jessica has tried to keep the Healdsburg Jazz Festival rooted in jazz, unique, and high quality.
    From what I see now, board of this festival needs to reclaim some integrity, since the current actions have put a serious dent theirs.
    So come to your sense, apoligise, and bring Jessica back.

  3. This isn’t about Jessica. This is about commercialism. This decision typifies everything that is bad about the US art scene. There are far too many people in decision making positions that have no understanding or art but a perceived understanding of economics. The whole world it seems has an ‘American Idle’ mentality. If people like it, it must be good. It doesn’t matter that what your presenting as art is a simple rehash of things done before. Jessica understands the difference. Jessica knows that societies grow and thrive on new, innovative and challenging forms or art. She refuses to bow to the forces of popularism, and for that she has been fired. let’s not have the HJF go down the same path as so many other good artistic endeavors. Re-instating Jessica is not the answer. If reinstated she’ll have an uphill battle every year. Replacing the board is the answer. Let’s have a board driven by art not economics and popularity polls. An arts driven board will beg Jessica to stay, not drive her out.
    A quick word on economics. I am sure the publicity folks worked hard for this years festival. However, a jazz fanatic I know in Palo Alto didn’t even know about this years line up. He was blown away when I showed him a program and wished he’d known. Could be he was asleep at the wheel, but i doubt it. Before worrying about lack of money the board should be ensuring they are maximising every opportunity to sell tickets and sponsorships. How about a new organization? new board, new people. lets not try to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear

  4. No good deed goes unpunished… This is the case when it comes to Jessica Felix. Her vision, respect, blood, sweat, tears and love for this true American art form created the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Her relentless devotion has not only bridged true Jazz with an intelligent and deserving audience, but has also united a community.
    We had the good fortune of attending several of her festivals, which gave us the opportunity to get to know and love many of the volunteers and members. We were surprised to learn that most of these people go there separate ways and have little to do with each other once the festival is over, only to reunite the following year to get ready for the next one.
    Not only has this amazing woman earned her place in jazz history with the likes of George Wein (Newport Jazz Festival) Claude Nobs (Montreux Jazz Festival) Carlo Pagnotta (Umbria Jazz Festival) and Jimmy Lyons (Monterey Jazz Festival), she has enriched a community. With this offering of music she has given a small town of diverse people a common sense of pride and purpose. Rather then personally devastate her and divide the town she resides in. She could have been awarded a street in her honor… “Jessica’s way” we all know she has a way about her. A community once united by this, her creation is now being torn apart by what seems to be an inexperienced, innocent and unconscious board. What ever the solution, relieving Jessica of her position as artistic director is not the answer.
    -With music in mind, Billy, Tracy and Imke

  5. Bad mistake. Poor economic understanding. You can’t have a music festival without someone who has good connections to the artists. Jessica made HJF world class and the idea that it doesn’t make a profit, trash it, is typical American corporate short term thinking. Economically, Healdsburg and all it’s businesses should understand that a so- called loss of $30 thousand is incredibly cheap marketing. Try buying TV time for that.
    Jessica put Healdsburg on the jazz map and built its reputation all over the world. Media articles appeared in magazines, newspapers and internet. Try buying that.
    My wife and I have volunteered for two years just because Jessica brought a real sense of art to the HJF and did a good job of organizing the festival.
    As the previous writer noted, “An arts driven board will beg Jessica to stay, not drive her out.”


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