There were heavy rains in the first weeks of June all over Bulgaria... There were critics and pessimists saying it will not work... They were, however, much less than the ones that chose to believe in the idea that a jazz concert can attract tourists and guests to the small villages of the Devetaki Plateau.
Participants first: Convinced that the Jazz Under The Stars festival will help revive the villages in the Devetaki Plateau our team started the preparation. Together with our music director, Ventsi Blagoev, we gathered a total of 23 Bulgarian musicians! The list contained established, popular jazz singers and musicians, modern jazz performers as well as young talented boys and girls. This was a way to attract a broad range of audiences to come to our villages.
Media and advertising - crusial for the cause: we attracted two national media partners: Jazz FM radio and Darik radio who really helped us reach out to potential guests from across the country. We had an audio advert that was played several times a day for two weeks before the event. We were invited for several interviews - with the team of our association and with some of the popular musicians from the event list. We made a FB event and reached over 10 000 people.
Preparation of the stage: The organization on the spot followed - posters, signs, directions to the fest stage, which was actually... the meadow between two of the villages! Several wooden pallets, 100 straw bales - that was all necessary for the magic experience. And... 3 electricity generators - for the sound and the lights!
And the miracle happened: when the day came, June 15th, there was no cloud in the sky! It was neither hot not too cold, and the people started to come: in cars, campers, bicycles, even, on foot from the near villages - more and more people until we thought the meadow will not be able to take it. But luckily, the meadow is big enough and so were the hearts of all of us there - musicians, guests, organizers. We enjoyed well-known musicians like Kamelia Todorova, Vili Stoyanov, proffessor Vladimir Radulov, and Neviliyan Gemizhev. The new generation of jazz singers and players were there, too - a collection of incredible younger professionals showing different formats and jazz styles. And three very young and tallented musicians had the chance to learn, to step on the same stage and sing and play with their idols! Even more: the ladies from the local Cultural club, nicely clad in their folclore costumes stepped on the stage, too, with three unforgetable songs to remind us of our roots and show the beauty of linking music styles.
The audience: there were people of all ages - from little kids to elderly locals who enjoyed this incredible event taking place "in the middle of nowhere"! Smiling faces, dances, handshakes and hugs - it is not easy to describe all the emotions the fest provoked in them! Seeing their favourit singer, or saxophone, or piano player right here, under the stars made them experience something really special. The musicians also felt this energy, opened their souls and would not stop playing and singing long after midnight!
The results: during our 3 month Global Giving campaign we collected a total of USD 2 928 from 38 individual donors!!! This was a great success for us for it is the first time we go for crowdfunding. The donations helped us organize the biggest event that ever took place in our villages. It added a lot to the modest funding we secured from other sources - America for Bulgaria Foundation, Lagermax Ltd., Animo Software Ltd. Seeing the potential of our cause for the whole region, the Municipality of Letnitsa and the City council also supported our efforts - financially and in-kind. During the fest there were over 2000 people and 23 musicians. Before and after the event we had over 10 media interviews and publications in national media. We had numerous positive reviews and feedback in the social media - from the visitors and also from the musicians. All of them enjoyed it and, most important, they loved the place! They all discovered the nine villages in the Devetaki Plateau and now they tell their friends and colleagues about it. The small guest-houses are already fully booked for the summer and we are glad to say the region is more popular than it has ever been before. Even the pessimists from the first pagragraph started to believe it is possible to turn a small rural area into a Jazz capital... at least for one day in the year! And those who could not make it but heard abour it are already convinced they should come - very soon or for the festival next year!
Dear funders, this beautiful story would not have happened without you! Thank you for your generousity and understanding and we believe you will stay with us and also tell our story to others! We will not stop helping our nine villages; we already have plans for the next year and hope to have you not only as supporters; we would love to welcome you as guests in the Devetaki Plateau!
Sound check and preparation
Ready to start
An inspiring "stage" on the meadow
Freedom, music, pure joy
Jazz for the kids
Youth meets experience
Tired but not finished
No one wants to sleep
Music meets nature