HAMLET — Jazz legend John Coltrane was born on Sept. 23, 1926 to John R. and Alice Blair Coltrane on the second floor of what used to be a two-story hotel on Hamlet Avenue, and on Saturday, the celebration will begin at Main Street Park for what would have been his 90th birthday.
The Lunch with Coltrane event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the park in downtown Hamlet, will serve up hot dog plates for $3 each and will feature live music from Bennettsville, South Carolina-based band A New Creation — a jazz band that plays Motown and beach music — according to organizer Deon Cranford III.
“I got with (Hamlet Depot and Museums and Downtown Coordinator) Stephanie Thornsbury, and she was talking about bringing some new stuff downtown, and I told her I always wanted to do a Coltrane event,” said Cranford. “We wanted to do something in May but because his birthday is now, we wanted to something as close to his birthday as possible which is Sept. 23.”
Coltrane, who died on July 17, 1967, made an indelible mark on the music world in his 40-year lifetime. He posthumously received a Grammy Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Industry Association of America, and Cranford wants to see an expansion of other events highlighting “Trane.”
“The idea is to see if it’s something people would be interested in, and if it is we’re gonna put a committee together,” he said. “There’s some distance between now and Christmas and between May and the Fourth of July. We actually wanted to this closer to the evening but next Saturday is the Kuumba Festival in Laurinburg, which I thought might attract the same audience. We were gonna do it tomorrow evening but we didn’t want to conflict with Hospice’s event.
“Another reason why we’re doing it now is to promote these similar events. On Oct. 1 is the Coltrane Edu-tainment event, which has been going on a while, and Oct. 14-16 is the jazz festival in Cheraw (honoring Dizzy Gillespie). That’s the one we wanna go to and try to mimic. I’m just trying to bring something downtown. We wanna have more downtown type things. They kind of follow a similar category.”
All money raised from the event will go to the Richmond Senior High School’s Marching Raider Band, who will also be performing Saturday. For Cranford, it takes a team effort to set up a celebration for a musical legend.
“I wanted to thank Hamlet City Manager Marcus Abernethy, Amy Guinn with the Hamlet Downtown Business Association, Teri Stevens with the Health Department and Stephanie for helping me stay within the guidelines,” said Cranford. “They really backed me on some things and helped me stay in compliance.”
Meanwhile, organizers of the John Coltrane Music “Edu-taiment” Festival, are gearing up for the the event’s eighth year.
“I like to anchor it home,” said Gerard A. Morrison, another Hamlet native who believes “the arts bring people together of all types.”
Morrison said he is still looking to book local acts for the indoor event, which will be held at The Faith Center on Ghio/Osborne Road.
For more information on the festival, contact Morrison at 347-286-8742.
William R. Toler contributed to this story. Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.