Over the past twenty-seven years our festival has evolved; as much by design as from necessity.
With any change, there needs to be some balancing constancy, and ours is built over many years of great programming, dazzling performances, atmospheric venues, relaxed artists and friendly locals. There is a unique informality to performances that belies the scorching calibre of artistry.
Yet in a world that is increasingly fragmented we are constantly looking for ways to remain relevant to lovers of jazz, blues and live music more generally.
A reliable constant each year is the quality of programming and performance. Each year, our Creative Director, Adrian Jackson is charged with curating a program that will stimulate lovers of jazz and blues (And the broad church they represent!). Each year, Adrian is asked, to what theme he has programmed. Without fail he replies that his programmes are not themed. Yet each year, Adrian’s programmes invariably proffer surprises and delights on top of a reassuring foundation of quality. This year’s program is testament to the strength of women in jazz & blues and moreover the exciting emergence of a new generation of talent. Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues has a proud history of supporting young artists as they embark on careers, and in years to come, you will be able to say you saw them here first.
On the subject of young artists, the instrument for this year’s National Jazz Awards is the saxophone and we look forward to sharing this important milestone with the competing artists, the finalists and the winner, not to mention some of the knockout saxophonists on the main program. Don’t miss the awards, they are always immensely entertaining but if you can’t get a seat, you can stream all the action live, broadcast by ABC Jazz on our Festival App. Which you can download for IOS (Apple) or Android devices
The App is also an invaluable tool to plan and navigate your weekend. With so many shows and great venues, even experienced festivalgoers appreciate the difficulty of trying to squeeze in all your favourites. The App allows you to build your itinerary and then share your experiences on our Fan Wall. After all, the festival is a shared experience and we want to share it with you.
You are always greeted with a warm welcome in Jazz country. Our locals love this time of year; when the streets, parks and venues buzz with visitors, families and friends. It’s a time to congregate and celebrate music, art and life. One place you’ll catch the locals is at the new King George Gardens and Ovens Street precincts, which represents one of the evolving elements of the festival.
Make time to drop in to King George Gardens to enjoy all the best local food and wine, street performance and an open-air stage that will have festivalgoers partying all day and into the night.
Another emerging element of the festival is the connection to our beautiful region and we strongly encourage everyone to take the time (or make the time) to explore the surrounding areas for great natural landscapes, cycling adventures and world-class food and wine. The King Valley is a short drive and its cool climate is best suited to the Mediterranean varieties that grow there. While you are there, Journey down Prosecco Road to discover this delicious and versatile wine. On Monday, head to Rutherglen and catch some jazz & blues, great food and wine and winery experiences at this year’s Spring Swing. While you are at it, why not head to the Wangaratta Turf Club to do Melbourne Cup Day, country races style! And if you are into cycling of any form, bring your bike as there are rail trails, mountain bike tracks and scenic road routes that will satisfy the cycling soul.
With so many quality performances to enjoy and experiences to have, it’s little wonder that we see so many familiar faces each year. Yet, it is the new faces we see, those drawn to our evolving festival and region, that gives us confidence we can remain relevant to lovers of jazz and blues and live music more generally, for many years to come.
Welcome to Jazz country. Have a great weekend.