Berks Jazz Fest, 19th Annual Jazz Festival

Top performances to check out at the 2009 Berks Jazz Fest:

1. The McCoy Tyner Quintet – 7:30 pm. April 4 Miller Center for the Arts, Reading Community College, 4 N. Second St., Reading, $45.

2. Phoebe Show – 7:30 pm. April 3 Miller Center for the Arts, $45.

3. Bela Fleck – The Africa Project – 7:30 pm. March 30, Miller Center for the Arts, $45.

4. Jason Miles Soul Summit II – 7:30 pm. April 3, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 310 S. Seventh St, Reading. $49.

5. The Tierney Sutton Band – 7:30 and 10:30 pm. March 27 at Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Bass, Crowne Hotel, 1741 Papermill Road, Spring Township, West Reading, $30.

6. Victor Wooten – 10:30 pm March 27, Reading Crowne Hotel Ballroom, 1741 Papermill Road, West Reading, $39.

7. Severn Records Nights – 7:30 pm. March 27 and 28, Inn at Reading Ballroom, 1040 N. Park Road, Reading $38.

8. Rick Braun Tribute to Chet Baker – 10. pm. April 4, Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom, Fifth and Washington Streets, Reading, $35.

Albert Boscov regaining control of the department store chain last December 2008 didn’t like what he saw. The 79-year-old is known to be ”hands on” for routinely checking on his stores, chatting with customers and employees and adjusting advertising signs. He said he wants to change Boscov’s shopping and working culture. ”I want it to be fun again to work here,” said Boscov, whose father started the Reading area company in 1911. ”That means having festivals again and things like that.”

In 2006, the company purchased the Strawbridge’s store at the Lehigh Valley Mall and prided itself on bucking the national trend of department store consolidation. Boscov’s was undergoing an aggressive expansion that stretched the chain to 9,500 employees and 49 stores, with a plan to add five more stores each year.

Analysts have said Boscov’s, a mid-level retailer, is struggling with other retailers to find their place as the market gets fragmented and they compete with big discount box stores such as Wal-Mart. Competing retailers such as Macy’s and The Bon-Ton, which have stores in the Lehigh Valley, have reported decreased sales in recent months, including a lackluster holiday shopping season that was led by uncharacteristic price reductions to stimulate sales. Time will tell if Mr. Boscov can revive the store chain. Good luck to this Lehigh Valley retail pioneer. Hope they do not meet the same end as Hess Brothers the best known of the valley retail pioneer giants.