Friday, August 13, 2021 / 11:30 a.m.
Harold B. Leifer Memorial Kickoff Luncheon
The Peanut Bar Restaurant
Call 610-376-8500 for reservations

The tradition continues: Bennie Sims and the Groovemasters will kick off the fest at the Peanut Bar.

The very popular Harold B. Leifer Memorial Kickoff Luncheon at the Peanut Bar Restaurant featuring The Groovemasters is as much a part of the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest as peanuts are to the Peanut Bar.

The Groovemasters are three Berks County musical giants — bassist/vocalist Bennie Sims, pianist/vocalist Cliff Starkey and saxophonist/vocalist Erich Cawalla.

Sims and Starkey go way back together as members of the Original Groovemasters.

Cawalla also has performed regularly with Sims and Starkey in various gigs.

Sims has notched out a career as a highly regarded musician, performer, writer, producer and music director. Sims has worked with countless artists throughout his career, including Al Jarreau, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, The Spinners, The Temptations, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Tower of Power and Pieces of a Dream.

Starkey, also an exceptional educator, was the winner of the 2017 Frank Scott Award that is presented annually by the Berks Arts Council.

Starkey has toured the world playing with top-shelf musical artists, including The Three

Degrees and Simone, and famous for being a regular performer on the “Emeril Live TV Show” on the Food Network. He too was a member of Pieces of a Dream, the acclaimed fusion band.

An extremely versatile vocalist and saxophonist, Cawalla’s performing style invokes a classic swinging yet contemporary R&B.

In 2005, Cawalla started The Uptown Band, becoming extremely popular headlining hundreds of shows in the Northeast. Cawalla teamed up with Sims to release his first solo contemporary jazz release 222 South.

Cawalla’s first full-length solo recording The Great American Songbook showcases original arrangements by Dave Depalma of songs in The Great American Songbook, including a 17-piece big band with strings that features Cawalla on lead vocals and saxophone. It was produced by Sims.