“There are people who have been extremely faithful,” she said. “There are people who are so faithful they travel up from Cape Cod to be there.”
Parris has performed around the world, in some cases with legendary musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich and Woody Herman, but said the Marblehead series has a unique feel that keeps her coming back.
“It’s a combination of the people that are volunteering and the space itself,” she said. “The audience in Marblehead is very special. I always feel like God waves his magic wand over the room when I’m there.”
Parris also feels the series is special because it helps to maintain the tradition of live performance.
“Live music will go away unless people come out to hear it, and we do not want to lose that aspect of our culture,” she said.
Another act with local roots, New Guitar Summit, features one of Boston’s most famous rock musicians, guitarist J. Geils of the J. Geils Band.
“He’s been playing jazz for a number of years, more actively than he played rock ’n’ roll — he’s been playing jazz for 20 years,” Arnould said.
This is the fourth time Geils has played the Marblehead series, and people who only knew him as a rocker are sometimes surprised when they see him on stage.
“He’s up there in a suit, looks like an insurance man — a cool insurance man,” Arnould said.
As the Marblehead series grew over the years, it also started to draw talent from well beyond the Boston area.
“Almost every year, we have someone from the international scene,” Arnould said. This year, that will include alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky, of St. Petersburg, Russia.
“I think he’s going to be one of the great saxophonists,” Arnould said.