When the annual Dayton Jazz Festival returns to RiverScape MetroPark in Dayton on Sunday, June 10, it will be under the guidance of Arthur “Hakim” Stokes of the Motown Sounds of Touch. This year’s lineup features the Johnson Treatment, the Next Phaze, Anthony “Saxtone” Arrington, Chango, JT Fredrick’s Sax Groove and Robert Sanae.
Stokes, who launched Taje Music Entertainment in 2008, sat down recently at Boston Stoker on Second Street to discuss the city-sponsored series of free festivals that also includes Dayton Blues Festival on Sunday, July 15 and Dayton Reggae Festival on Sunday, Sept. 2.
Booking agent: “I actually started with Spectra Entertainment out of West Carrollton. I worked with them for about four-and-a-half years. I met a lot of people so when they decided to shut it down I decided to go forward and, praise God, I got my feet under me and I’ve been doing it now 10 years. I book major acts as well as local and regional acts and, of course, the Motown Sounds of Touch. It sometimes gets to be a bit much but I love it. It keeps me active.”
New assignment: “I was really fortunate to do these Dayton music fests. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I’m thankful to be able to do it. We have seven acts for the Jazz Fest and seven for the blues and six for the reggae so that’s 20 acts I had to book and do the paperwork for. I have the first two booked and I’m working on the Reggae Fest now. That’s in September, so I have a little more time to finish that.”
Transition period: “(Outgoing talent buyer) Marty Romie was very helpful. He had done it 12 or 13 years so he gave me some ideas of who he was happy with during those times. That gave me time to digest what I’m doing and look at some of the past acts. I moved on some of those and then I had some people in mind that I wanted to book. I reached out to them and everybody is very excited to be a part of it.”
Prime gig: “It’s a big deal for local acts to play these big city festivals at RiverScape or like the Fraze, where Touch is returning on June 29. You get a good crowd and you never know in this business who may be looking at you so it’s a good platform to use. And it doesn’t hurt your bio to say you played Dayton Jazz Fest.”
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