The Fourth of July celebration that wasn’t

The coronavirus pandemic has undone many plans. One of the biggest regrets we have at the Wren’s Nest is the Fourth of July concert that never happened.

Last Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Army Field Band’s Jazz Ambassadors were supposed to play a free community concert from the stage in our backyard. Jazz Matters, the music nonprofit that produces a summer series of outdoor concerts at the Nest, was the presenting organization, and we were the hosts. We were expecting a crowd of up to 1,000 people, which would have been the largest gathering in quite some time at the place Joel Chandler Harris used to call Snap Bean Farm.

Much planning had gone into the event. “We had volunteers lined up, sponsorships in place, publicity ready to start,” says Janice Williams, who runs Jazz Matters with her musician husband, Edwin Williams. “We were so excited. People really wanted to be a part of it because it was the U.S. Army and it was the weekend before the Fourth.”

Then came the pandemic. In the early spring, the concert was called off. “We had to cancel everything,” Williams says. “We were so sad.”

The Jazz Ambassadors are a 19-piece orchestra that bills itself as “America’s Big Band.” You might not expect the military to swing, but Williams says her husband has great respect for the musicians in the Army and Navy bands. “They’re world class.”

Concerts — even outdoor ones — are risky business in a time of pandemic. With no live audiences to play for, Jazz Matters had stepped up its online programming just as we have here at the Nest. You can check out their podcasts and virtual performances at

Unfortunately, Jazz Matters will not be producing concerts at the Wren’s Nest again until next year, circumstances permitting. If you’ve never attended one, please do. As you can see in the photo, it’s quite a scene when people set up tables, light candles and pour wine in our backyard, making it look like a little Chastain Park Amphitheater. Rest assured that the Williamses have let the Jazz Ambassadors know that we would love to host them next summer. 

In the meantime, we wish you a happy Fourth of July. Stay safe, be well, and God bless America.

Fourth of July, Jazz Ambassadors, Jazz Matters, Patriotic concerts, U.S. Army Field Band, Wren's Nest

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