'Hamilton' Star a Headliner at Vt. Jazz Festival - NECN
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'Hamilton' Star a Headliner at Vt. Jazz Festival

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    Leslie Odom Jr. to Perform in Vermont

    Leslie Odom Jr. is joining the celebration of 35 years of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in Vermont.

    (Published Friday, June 8, 2018)

    This will be a big weekend for music lovers in Vermont's largest city.

    The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival is marking its 35th year with concerts all around the city, with one of the original stars of the smash Broadway hit "Hamilton" joining the celebration.

    "It is my first performance in Vermont — my first time visiting Vermont," said musical artist Leslie Odom Jr.

    Odom, a Tony winner for his leading role as Aaron Burr in "Hamilton," is one of the headliners of the second weekend of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, giving a sold-out concert at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts Friday night.

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    "We're going to try to get in a zip line or a hike or something while we're here, I think," Odom said of his visit to Vermont with his wife.

    The Jazz Fest is celebrating 35 years in 2018.

    It's 10 days long, and along with ticketed shows, showcases at least 100 hours of free music – much of it on the city's famous Church Street Marketplace.

    "The free programming is something that's very important to the festival, because it's supposed to be accessible to the whole community," said Chelsea Lafayette, the managing director of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.

    Percussionist and band leader Sasha Berliner is performing late Friday at the FlynnSpace with her quartet.

    "It's really impressive that this isn't happening in some major city," Berliner observed of the level of passion for live music in Burlington. "The turnout is incredible, and there's such a sense of community."

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    The event is drawing applause from the downtown business community, too.

    Leunig's Bistro says the Jazz Fest is a major attraction which helps boost outdoor seating at a critical time for the marketplace.

    "If we didn't have a nice summer, there's a good chance many of us might not survive the winter," Bob Conlon of Leunig's said of Church Street merchants that benefit from the Jazz Fest.

    Festival organizers said they're already planning next year's event, and are even looking forward to the 40th annual Jazz Fest several years down the line.

    As for Odom, the star of stage and screen said he's thrilled to be a part of such a long-running community tradition.

    "We hope you guys dig it," he said of his performance Friday night.

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