By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– Live music returned to Denver’s Five Points neighborhood Friday. Several people came to Sonny Lawson Park for First Friday Jazz Hop. The event had to cut its run short in 2020 due to COVID-19.

(credit: CBS)

“We got up to seven concerts in seven different locations in Five Points. We had packed houses with great jazz artists and musicians, and then COVID came in and threw a monkey wrench in the plans,” said Norman Harris, President of Mile High Festivals.

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Harris says they’re looking to expand the program over the next couple of months, but for now, he’s just happy to bring a small and safe evening of entertainment to the community.

“I think that right now, people are desperate to get back to some normalcy in life. So hopefully at the festivals, we can kind of lead the charge. But we need people to continue to be safe so we can get COVID behind us,” said Harris.

Best health practices are encouraged at First Friday Jazz Hop. Guests are encouraged to wear masks, keep their distance and stay home if they’re not feeling well. Despite it being chilly, the event was held outside to make the gathering even safer.

(credit: CBS)

Harris hopes the return of First Friday will bring more people to Five Points.

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“I just can’t express how important it is for our city to come down and support the businesses that are down there,” said Harris. “There’s a convergence of a lot of good energy in Five Points. What we’re doing at the park is a reflection of that.”

Guests were entertained by The Five Points Jazz Hops and The Matt Skellenger Trio Friday evening. Skellenger, the band’s leader, wanted to shine a light on all the artists who inspired the music he makes.

“Black musicians have been so influential in the music that we play today. As we look back on the history of jazz, it’s really important to recognize that and celebrate that,” said Skellenger.

Skellenger never took a break from playing music in 2020, but he says it’s great to have an audience to enjoy it.

(credit: CBS)

“Music is incredibly important because it takes us away from our daily lives. I think it takes us away from all of this stress that we’ve been thinking about over this past year. It creates an environment for us to forget about that a little bit,” said Skellenger.

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For more information on First Friday Jazz Hop, visit https://www.milehighfestivals.com/ffjhschedule

Tori Mason