For the 24th year, the Balcones Heights Jazz Festival will bring the best in contemporary jazz free to the public each Friday in July.

For four weeks, the family-friendly festival will more than double Balcones Height’s population of 3,000 with an expected 4,000 jazz fans, gathering rain or shine at the Wonderland of the Americas Amphitheater.

“This year we have a very interesting lineup. We’ve added some R&B to the smooth jazz to shake it up a little,” said Lorenzo Nastasi, Balcones Heights director of economic development and public affairs, who is helping coordinate the event.

“It always pleases me to provide that kind of talent for free,” Nastasi added, noting that attendees often remark that they had paid in the past to see the festival’s performers at other venues.

The festival’s emcee for the 24th consecutive year is David Munoz, who has also hosted “Sunday Morning Jazz” on Q101.9 for about three decades. Each show will feature a special opening act at 7:30 p.m. followed by a headliner at 9 p.m.

The lineup features many world renowned jazz players, as well as some up-and-comers. Local R&B/jazz singer MELINA will return for her second year to open the festival on July 7, accompanied by Texas guitarist Ruben V. Headlining on Friday, July 7 is Los Angeles-based trumpeter Rick Braun, who has more than 20 No. 1 smooth jazz singles to his name, as well as more recent reinventions of contemporary pop hits.

Saturday, July 14 will feature Grammy nominated guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., who has played on a range of acclaimed pop, R&B, and jazz albums with artists like B.B. King, Michael Jackson, and Elton John. The following week’s show on July 21, will showcase the unique acoustic guitar duo Strunz & Farah who pioneered their own style of improvisational world jazz, a mix of Latin American and Middle Eastern music with Afro-Carribean influence.

The festival’s amenities include indoor restrooms, food and drink vendors, and free parking. Seats in the amphitheater are first-come first-served, so be sure to beat the eager crowds.

“Balcones Heights is a little under the radar, so I think the annual jazz festival is a very positive thing,” said Nastasi. “It draws a fascinating mix of people [to the area], which gives us all a great deal of pleasure.

“This is really one of the premier musical events in South Texas.”

Balcones Heights Jazz Festival Lineup:

Shows are on Fridays and start at 7:30 p.m., followed by a headliner at 9 p.m.

July 7: Ruben V (Guitarist) featuring MELINA, headliner: Rick Braun (Trumpeter)

July 14: Oli Silk (Keyboardist), headliner: Paul Jackson, Jr. (Guitarist)

July 21: Phillip “Doc” Martin (Saxophonist), headliner: Strunz & Farah  (Guitarists)

July 28: Chase Huna (Saxophonist), headliner:  Steve Oliver (Guitarist)

Tom Bugg

Tom Bugg is a San Antonio native and student of English at Colorado College.