Supporting the arts and providing a venue for local artists have always been core goals of Avalon Park Wesley Chapel, a master-planned community located east of I-75 on State Road 54. The latest addition to this vision is Jazz Under the Starz, which recently hosted its first concert at Avalon Park’s community center.
“There is something about music that soothes the soul and brings people together,” says Arlene Brooks, organizer of Jazz Under the Starz and owner of Coffee Speaks N Tea Talks in New Tampa. “Music doesn’t have a color to it — it brings people together and makes your soul feel good. Music is my inspiration, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching people come together to share in this joy.”
Brooks began inviting professional jazz musicians to perform at her coffee shop after it opened in November 2019. Just a few months later, COVID closed the business, and when it reopened last summer, Brooks moved the musicians to the parking lot outside her Pebble Creek location and renamed it Jazz Under the Starz.
“Because of social distancing, we could not bring back live music inside the coffee shop, so we moved it outside. People liked this so much that our weekend shows were attracting 300 to 400 people, and the crowd became too large to continue in our parking lot,” explains Brooks.
It was this challenge that brought Brooks and Stephanie Lerret of Avalon Park together. Both are members of the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, and Chamber President Hope Kennedy brought them together to see if they could help each other out.
“When Stephanie suggested we move Jazz Under the Starz to Avalon Park, it was the perfect solution for today and the future,” explains Brooks. “I learned that Avalon Park is building an amphitheater in its new downtown, and Stephanie wanted us to locate there when it opens. And until then, she invited us to play at Avalon Park’s community center.”
It was a beautiful evening on April 24, when the first Jazz Under the Starz was held at Avalon Park Wesley Chapel, with John Patti on steel drums, and Leroy Brim and T. Foxx on guitar. Folks brought chairs to relax in under the stars, mingled with neighbors and enjoyed the soothing music.
“The event was great and the atmosphere was awesome. Jazz Under the Starz is spreading like wildfire!” said Brooks.
Jazz Under the Starz will be brought to Avalon Park every third Saturday of the month, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Music will feature smooth jazz, including musicians on guitar, sax, clarinet, keyboard, violin and steel drum. Brooks also invites other artists to exhibit and perform alongside the musicians. This includes painters (Shawn Rainey of Wesley Chapel painted during the April event) and dancers, including the Tampa Bay Ballet.
The cover fee to attend Jazz under the Starz is just $10, and children 12 and under are free. The next Jazz Under the Starz is Saturday, May 15.
“We are so excited to bring Jazz Under the Starz to our community,” says Lerret, senior vice president of marketing for the Avalon Park Group. “We love offering things to do for our families, and especially have a passion for sharing the arts. Jazz under the Starz is exactly the type of organization we want to support, and fits perfectly with our goal of enhancing and bringing more attention to arts and culture.”
This fall, Avalon Park is breaking ground on its new downtown, which includes an amphitheater for performing arts, and the East Pasco Fine Arts Gallery in conjunction with the Pasco Fine Arts Council. The community began its partnership with the Pasco Fine Arts Council in 2019, offering its Welcome Center as a new gallery for residents on the east side of Pasco County.
Avalon Park Wesley Chapel will offer places to shop and work in its downtown hub that will be connected to its residential neighborhoods by tree-lined streets, walkways and bike paths.
The first phase will include five buildings and 130,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial space and apartments built above the storefronts.
At build out, Avalon Park’s downtown will have more than 560,000 square feet of retail, and 120,000 square feet of office space. This 1,650-acre master-planned community will be home to 10,000 residents.
For more information about Avalon Park and its events, call 813-783-1515, or email . Information is also available at AvalonParkWesleyChapel.com, and its Facebook page at Avalon Park Wesley Chapel.
Jazz Under the Starz
Sat., May 15
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Community Center – Avalon Park Wesley Chapel
5060 River Glen Blvd.
Wesley Chapel, FL 33545
$10 cover charge; children 12 and under free
Reservations at JazzUndertheStarz.com
Published April 28, 2021