The high-profile Ottawa lawyer was the charity auctioneer. It’s a volunteer role he’s performed for decades in Ottawa to help out local charities (his first auction was 41 years ago, in 1982, for Reach Canada).
Still, it was no easy task that night as he sold off 21 experiential packages to an audience of 200-plus at the Jazz Night Out fundraiser. The evening raised roughly $38,000, according to the festival’s sponsorship manager, James Richardson, while adding that he expects to have a more accurate total by Monday.
The arts benefit kicked off with a reception catered by Thali/Coconut Lagoon restaurants, and by Arlo Wine and Restaurant. Following the live auction there was a live performance from the Fred Hersch Trio.
Entrepreneur and army vet Michael Nelson wins Forty Under 40 award
Nelson said that he was honoured, and surprised, to have not just been nominated for a Forty Under 40 Award, but selected.
What makes TerraNova the perfect partner for Canadian defence contracts
Not only can TerraNova help military giants like General-Dynamics maintain their machinery, but it can do it in record time.
A dinner for four at Arlo, to be prepared by executive chef Jamie Stunt with wine pairings by sommelier Alex McMahon, proved to be a particularly popular item among auction bidders. It raised $1,800 after the restaurant agreed to let the two highest bidders buy the dinner, at $900 a pop.
“If you drink enough wine, you’ll be calling me later,” joked Greenspon, a criminal defence lawyer, as he kept his audience entertained with his quick wit. His firm, Greenspon Granger Hill, is across from Arlo on Somerset Street West.
Music lovers scooped up special packages to the Ottawa Jazz Festival, ChamberFest, Music and Beyond, and CityFolk, as well as a get-away, courtesy of VIA Rail and a stay at any Gray Collection hotel, to see Diana Krall at the Montreal Jazz Festival. There were staycations available at Brookstreet Hotel and Fairmont Château Montebello, as well as at the Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa as part of a larger Outaouais package that included dinner at Les Fougères.
For the more sporty types, they could bid on group tickets to see the Ottawa RedBlacks or the Ottawa Titans baseball team in action, or the Ottawa Senators’ upcoming game against the Carolina Hurricanes. It included a signed hockey stick from Sens captain Brady Tkachuk.
Also sold off that night was the opportunity to hang out with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe at City Hall. It was bought by Ginger Bertrand, president of boutique public relations agency GAB Group. She told OBJ.social during the cocktail hour how she’s looking for more ways to get involved in Ottawa. “I’m so excited to support the community and to support everything that Ottawa is trying to be,” said Bertrand, who relocated back to her hometown of Ottawa from Toronto during the height of the pandemic.
Attendees that night included the jazz festival’s board secretary, marketing consultant Keith Gallop, and several of his fellow board members. Urbandale Construction president Richard Sachs and his wife, Michelle Sachs attended. So did retired Soloway Wright LLP lawyer Peter Hagen and long-time arts supporters Barbara Uteck, a former board member with the Ottawa Art Gallery, and Susan Carter, a former board chair of OrKidstra.
Greenspon was there with his wife, Angela Lariviere, and a bunch of their friends, including Kelly Santini LLP partner Pat Santini and Richard Goldstein, who, as a new board member with the Ottawa Jazz Festival, recruited Greenspon as auctioneer that night.
Goldstein told OBJ.social how privileged he feels to serve on the board and to help a cause that focuses on live music. “This is an amazing opportunity to promote music, especially jazz, in Ottawa,” said Goldstein, vice president of construction and development, at the Kanata Research Park. “I think this is something that needs to be out in the community a lot more, and I’m going to do my darndest to make it happen.”
Jazz music is unique and, like raw oysters or certain wines, cheeses or beer, is considered an acquired taste. “At some point in your life, you just want to listen to something that’s a little bit more challenging than turning on the latest pop music,” the festival’s long-time executive producer, Catherine O’Grady, told OBJ.social. “And that’s how we approach it. The people who come are the people who are ready for something that lingers a little longer than, you know, 10 minutes on the pop charts.”
Ottawa’s jazz fest is still in recovery mode from the pandemic. “COVID was a huge challenge, and we are slowly coming back from it,” said O’Grady.
Last year, the festival returned in person for its first time since 2019 but attendance was down. “People were still really reluctant to come out; there was still the COVID hesitancy,” said O’Grady. “We’re really hopeful that all those people who stayed home last year will be out in force this year.”
Many festivals are having to carefully factor increased costs into their financial planning this year, which is why the jazz festival is holding a new golf tournament later this spring “The pressure is really on us to make money outside of regular ticket sales,” said O’Grady.
Jazz fest has always been an economic driver to the region, helping to fill hotels and to provide business to local suppliers, production companies, and artists. The annual music festival also brings thousands of people to a downtown core that has fewer folks these days as a result of increased remote and hybrid work trends.
O’Grady is of the opinion that the public is looking to leave their quiet and sleepy neighbourhoods to come downtown to reconnect with their community – provided the area has something for them. She believes the jazz festival offers that “magical” experience people are looking for. Much of the festival programming takes place outdoors in Confederation Park and nearby venues, located a quick bebop away from the Rideau Canal and Parliament Hill.
All proceeds from the Jazz Night Out auction and concert benefit support the Ottawa Jazz Festival, which takes place June 23 to June 30 and will feature such artists as Melody Gardot, Lord Huron, Buddy Guy and Herbie Hancock.