Following the trend of recent years, organizers are pushing the festival beyond its traditional jazz roots. This year it features tribute bands to Santana and Steely Dan. And this year's Emperor is the hard-to-categorize Tom Rigney.
"We've had several traditional jazz style emperors over the years and Tom doesn't come from the traditional jazz world, says Executive Director Greg Willett. "He's a fine violinist, has more of a Cajun sound to what he does. And he's a crowd favorite without question."
Willett says the music will sound better than ever this year because the festival is contracting with a different sound reinforcement company. He says audiences will really notice the difference at large outdoor venues like Freeway Gardens and the Firehouse Lot.
This year's festival will also be greener than ever, says Willett. Organizers have instituted a full-fledged recycling program for the first time.
As has been the case since its inception, the festival relies heavily on volunteers to build stages, manage sites, sell badges and pour beer. Willet says many of the 2,000 plus volunteers don't even live in Sacramento.
"Some of the folks actually come from around the country and they make this their vacation week. They'll come out and they'll bring their RV and build the stages and build the sites for us and then enjoy the shows for four days and then tear it all down."
This year, 70 bands will perform more than 400 sets at 20 venues throughout Downtown and Old Sacramento. The 4-day festival ends Monday afternoon.