Chuck Loeb Memorial Jam
For the commemorative Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest 25th booklet, the late guitarist Chuck Loeb wrote: One of my favorite Berks Jazz Fest events, and indeed a favorite of almost everyone involved, is the annual Berks All-Star Jam. The Jam has become a tradition and is held on the Thursday night prior to the final weekend of the festival.
My first jam session was at The Peanut Bar, an iconic bar in downtown Reading. It was a loose, fun, and free event, with all the guys just calling songs out and playing solos one after another as we crunched peanut shells under our feet. What fun! The Jam has grown to become THE event to attend. It is always the first show to sell out.
Loeb and trumpeter Rick Braun shared musical direction for the Jam for many years. When the event became so popular that audiences could no longer squeeze into the Peanut Bar, it moved to the Crowne Plaza Hotel; now it is held in the DoubleTree’s Grand Ballroom. And now it bears Loeb’s name to memorialize one of the festival’s most popular performers, who passed away in 2017.
Since Chuck’s passing, Braun and bassist Gerald Veasley have been co-musical directors.
The 14 musicians in the lineup will be joined by special guest Regina Belle, a vocalist who sang her solo at 8 in her church. She took up trombone, tuba, and steel drums, and then studied opera at the Manhattan School of Music.
At Rutgers University, she became the first female vocalist with the school’s jazz ensemble. Belle worked for The Manhattans as an opening act and sang on their “Back to Basics” album in 1986. The next year, she released the first of 11 albums, “All by Myself,” and in 1994 she won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo with Vocals for “A Whole New World” with Peabo Bryson. Her newest album is “My Colorful Christmas” (November 2022), on her own label, Tashi3 Entertainment.