Jazz festival to fulfill a dream

Gene Donaway had a dream of bringing an annual jazz festival to Wood County.

Donaway, who died in 2004, never fulfilled his dream, although he was able to provide jazz concerts and co-found in 1996 the Mid-Ohio Valley Multicultural Festival in Parkersburg, which continues to this day.

On June 7-8, the Chocolate Jazz Foundation will present the Gene Donaway West Virginia Jazz Festival at the Fishbone in Vienna. David Wells, musician and CEO/founder of the Chocolate Jazz Foundation, and Aaron Clubb, foundation vice president, plan to make a jazz festival an annual event.

“I think the festival is real special,” said Donaway’s daughter, Stephanie Smith-Clubb of Parkersburg who is married to Aaron Clubb. “It is very heartfelt to me.”

Smith-Clubb said her father always wanted to offer an annual jazz festival in Parkersburg but could not make it happen. “He (Donaway) loved jazz. We would drive around in his car listening to my jazz discs,” she said.

Smith-Clubb remembered her father putting on a Jazz on the Green concert in Bicentennial Park on Market Street and jazz concerts at the Parkersburg Holiday Inn.

Plans call for the June festival to be held in the front parking lot of Fishbone, on 17th Street along the Ohio River, with the stage at the front entrance to the building. Clubb estimates up to 10,000 people can bring a chair to watch the two days of jazz music.

Artists invited to perform at the inaugural festival are Warren Hill, Julian Vaughn, Vincent Ingala, Matt Marshak, Chris Geith, Nicholas Cole, Jonathan Fritzen and Simply Ira. Wells will be playing his flugelhorn and trumpet at the smooth jazz event. Wells recently released a CD, “No Side Effects.”

Wells said he wanted the festival to be in Vienna, where he lives, because the city does not have a large musical event.

The city of Vienna has agreed to help sponsor the festival with a $10,000 contribution.

Since August 2008, the nonprofit Chocolate Jazz Foundation has conducted fundraisers for the music departments of schools in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri, Wells said.

For more information on the festival, call 304-295-4088.


A record $20,706, with more money still coming in, was raised Feb. 23 at the 10th annual Fur Ball in Williamstown to benefit the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, HSOV board president Janie Snell told me Thursday night. The fundraiser, featuring silent and live auctions, food and live music, has become so popular it has outgrown the American Legion Post 159 facility in Williamstown, forcing the humane society in Marietta to look for a larger venue, Snell said. More than 400 people attended this year, a record crowd. Hit Parade, which plays regularly at the Adelphia in Marietta, brought a crowd, which packed the dance floor for the 1980s rock music. Snell said she wants to get Hit Parade to perform at next year’s Fur Ball. “The Legion has been great to us, working around us for three days,” Snell said. Carol McKitrick is the new Fur Ball committee chairman, taking over for Lisa Merrow, who chaired the group for 10 years.


Roger Nedeff of Vienna wrote an article, “To Live as One Like Brothers – Remembering St. Joseph Seminary,” which appears in the spring issue of Goldenseal magazine. Photographs provided by Paul Borrelli of Parkersburg accompany the story about the former seminary in Vienna, now the site of Ohio Valley University’s main campus. Goldenseal, the magazine of West Virginia traditional life, is produced by the Division of Culture and History.


Buddy James of Vienna, former Parkersburg High School football coach, was honored on his 76th birthday Thursday. James was one of three honorees at the Marshall University Alumni of the Mid-Ohio Valley Club’s scholarship fundraising dinner at Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna. James played football and wrestled at Marshall University.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com