All that jazz

Features Editor Jane Carlson interviews Knox music professor Nikki Whittaker on the eve of the annual Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival.

Excerpt from the Register Mail:

When Nikki Whittaker graduated from Knox College 10 years ago this spring, she didn’t think she’d ever live in Galesburg again.

But she’s been back in town for five years and now considers Galesburg her hometown — and it was jazz that brought her home…..

“It was not necessarily a goal of mine to come back,” Whittaker said.

But she did — and hasn’t regretted it. Since taking over as director of the jazz festival, which is in its 28th year, Whittaker has moved events from Cherry Street Bar and Restaurant to McGillacuddy’s across the street. She also has seen attendance grow, with an average of 100 to 150 people attending the more informal performances on Thursday and Friday nights and well over 400 attending the formal jazz concert on Saturday night at the Orpheum Theatre.