Burlington, VT – The 2023 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival kicked off Wednesday and faced complications with the rainy weather, but local businesses on Church Street opened their doors to keep musicians playing.

“How often do you get a live band to play inside your store? This is fantastic,” said Homeport Co-Owner Mark Bouchett.

Church Street businesses took the initiative during the rain to help festival attendees.

“The jazz festival contacted us a couple of months ago to see if we’d be willing to host if it’s raining and we said we’d be thrilled to,” said Bouchett.

Crowds of music lovers emerged in Church Street stores as high school musicians put on a show.

“We came down here because we have a lunch break. I thought it was a speaker, but no. I got shocked. It was nice. I came around the corner and there were people playing and it was fun,” said Kuba Thelemarck and Ethan Peck.

“Just seeing that once we’re here, there are people willing to clap every solo and smiling when they hear us play,” said Catherine Morrissey, a junior saxophonist from Arlington Memorial High School.

The Arlington Memorial High School band traveled two and a half hours to play in Burlington and their plans to play outside changed last minute.

“We’re jazz musicians, improvisation is what we do, so we just kind of roll with it. We adapt and make it work,” said Instrumental and Vocal Music Teacher from Arlington Memorial High School, Tom Neeson.

“I just enjoy being able to not necessarily think about what else is going on in my life. I’m able to just focus on my music and play the music that people can see, make people happy, and make me happy,” said Morrissey.

The connections made during the jazz festival span beyond the musical notes.

“It’s so much fun, they’re some of my best friends. This is our second leg of the tour so you think you’re a band, and it’s so much fun to play music with some of the best people I’ve ever met,” said Morrissey.

“What’s your favorite part about doing what you do? Playing with the kids,” said Neeson.

“The school band brings family and people who live in the area. It really makes Church Street a community space,” said Bouchett.

The Arlington Memorial High School band is just one of 39 bands scheduled to play at the jazz festival.