Jazz enthusiasts gathered Saturday in downtown Oklahoma City to celebrate the 25th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival. This year's festival commemorates the age Christian — a pioneer electric guitar performer — was when he died. Christian's short but influential music career and several contemporary artists attracted about 400 people to Regatta Park Saturday.
The crowd slowly grew throughout the afternoon and evening. Most arrived early to save seats for Grammy-nominated headliner Najee, who has shared the stage with Prince and Chaka Khan. Ardmore native Roland Patrick and Oklahoma City native Patrick Paulden both said they were eager to see the festival grounds fill with people. "I think (organizers) have done an excellent job in trying to present some of Oklahoma's finest artists and individuals in the community,” Paulden said. The duo exited Najee's sound check to listen to local acts at the festival's second stage. They chose Oklahoma City artist Kelvin Drake, who performed as Mr. Guitar. He belted jazz covers of classics like The Temptations' "My Girl” and The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back.” The festival has changed considerably since its first years. Anita G.