Jazz legend Phil Woods, COTA to receive Governors Award

It may have seemed like a thankless job putting on the 31st Celebration of the Arts Festival this month.

As the event crept closer, it became more and more obvious that torrential rains were going to chase away some of the crowd and put a damper on the event.

But this week, someone did thank the organizers.

The state announced original co-founder and local jazz legend Phil Woods and the COTA organizers would be recognized with the Governors Award for the Arts.

The 28th set of awards were announced Tuesday and will be presented at a Nov. 12 ceremony in Williamsport.

The award is being presented to Woods and COTA organizers under the title "Pennsylvania Creative Community Award."

There are six categories for the awards, with the biggest award — the Distinguished Arts Award — going to Pittsburgh-area native and Hollywood star Michael Keaton.

In a recent interview with Sharp magazine, before this year's COTA, Woods gushed about the uniqueness of the event and the pride he felt that the festival still had the same spirit now as it did when he and other local jazz greats Rick Chamberlain and Ed Joubert started the festival in 1978.

"It's the only jazz festival around that was actually started by jazz musicians," he said. "And I'd say it's the last real festival you can find around here. There are no corporate sponsorships, and no matter who you are, you get paid the same as everyone else."

Woods also said in the interview with Sharp that what has kept the festival going this long is the quality of the musicians.

"Even from those humble beginnings 30-some-odd years ago, we had great players," he said. "The level of musicians is very elevated in this part of the world. Something in the water, I guess."