2018 Boquete Jazz & Blues, Music & Art Festival

The small town of Boquete is getting back on it’s feet today after 4 days of packed restaurants, bars and streets, that hosted the 2018 Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival.

 This year the festival quietly changed it’s name to the Boquete Music and Arts festival in an effort to expand it’s audience reach and include a cultural merge that also supports tourism.

One such cultural merging happened on stage when Dwayne Dopsie of New Orleans’ Zydeco fame jammed with Panama’s Oswaldo. The dueling accordions was an energy filled, electric performance that brought the crowd to their feet with chants for ‘more’. Another magical moment happened when Maria Rivas joined Deanna Bogart on stage to sing “You got a friend”. The soulful voices of the two female performers brought tears to the eye of many in the audience. There multiple spontaneously intimate times when performers joined each other to create a one-of a-kind musical ensemble, improvising in the moment from a shared energy of which the audience is a part. It is this intimacy that makes this particular festival special, as the boundary between audience, music and performer takes on a life of it’s own.

In addition to internationally acclaimed music artists gracing the many venues of festival stages, there was also a prominent presence of visual artists exhibiting at the main fairgrounds. Art exhibits included shows by B.Chrisse Harwanko, Maria Rivas, who also preformed on stage, Gabriel Noriega and others. 

Panamanian painter, Olga Sinclair led a painting workshop for 300 children, each who came away with a painting from the day. Deanna Bogart and other artists held a music workshop for students of local musical programs that the festival supports. 

This year the festival has seen its largest attendance with 700 people coming to Panama from Canada, the United States, Spain, Central America and South America. Among those visiting were Miley Cyrus, Liam Helmsworth and Matt Damon who were arrived in David this past weekend. 

This year’s festival represents the 12th year of the festival’s life. It was started in 2006 by Hans Lebuser and is now directed by John Wolff. This year also saw the festival hosted at the grounds of la Feria de las Flores y el Café. The festival is made possible largely by the support of 70+ volunteers who handle things like ticketing and merchandise, websites, security, artist schedules, meals and photography. The festival is also made possible through the support of the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), Municipo of Boquete and of los terrenos de la Feria de las Flores y el Café. 

The Minister of Tourism Gustavo Him, visited the festival with his family and spoke with festival director John Wolff about plans for 2019.