Thursday May 10th to Sunday May 13th – 2018
“A four-day celebration of the best of New Orleans, Swing, Hot Club, Classic, Traditional, Mainstream Jazz and Blues in Keswick”
….and 2017 was awesome! Roll on 2018!
The 26th Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival – May 2017
Sold Out – A truly great success!
A year ago hundreds of jazz fans were filled with disappointment as Theatre By The Lake, who had been managing Keswick Jazz Festival for 10 years, announced they would no longer be managing it and that they had found no parties with a credible business plan to take it over. What they didn’t know was that Ian Jones, a Keswick resident and fan of the festival had sworn “over my dead body will this festival fold”.
Ian, who runs an audio / visual production company, had managed the sound and lighting for the festival for many years. With the previous festival programmer, Graham Hughes and a friend and neighbour, Dale Jackson who set up the website, Ian set out to resurrect the festival.
By 11th May, after a year of hard work, a bit of self-doubt, questioning from many quarters, the doors were open on the new “Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival”. Like Chris Barber did for his band 50 years before, Ian had decided it would be a good addition to the festival to include a little more blues.
In contrast to previous years, this festival was very much town centred: At 10 am on Thursday morning, in partnership with the Keswick Market, the Mayor opened the festival in Market Square and a New Orleans parade band launched things off. All five stroller venues were a short walk from each other around the town, there was “Jazz and Cricket” on Sunday in the local cricket club, there was free jazz and blues in pubs, a jazz service, and a day of swing dancing in the local school run by Swing Dance Cumbria. The sun was shining and the music was swinging.
The organisers had promised “lots of Keswick Jazz Festival favourites and some great new additions”. They didn’t disappoint – first timers at the festival included The Vitality Three, Wheatley’s Ragtime Salon, The Westside Syncopators, Dale Storr, Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra to name a few, while the many familiar bands had fans calling for more. People remarked that not only was the variety of bands so refreshing but the standard of musicians so high.
It was a smaller event than previously, but with no significant sponsorship (other than one or two generous donations from individuals) the organisers pulled it off – with only a shaky business plan and a lot of hard work. Tickets for the weekend sold out and dates for next year’s festival were announced. The organisers were very grateful to the hundreds of people who bought tickets months in advance and trusted them to come good on their promises. Without this there would have been no festival.
As it turned out the combination of top quality and entertaining music, fabulous weather, friendly and helpful volunteer stewards and good cheer from everyone made some people feel it was the best ever. Many people have already booked their b&b’s for next year.
So if you missed it this year put the dates in your diary for next year: Thursday 10th – Sunday 13th May 2018 and why not sign up for the Festival Newsletter so you won’t miss a thing.
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