KIRKCUDBRIGHT JAZZ FESTIVAL
A Celebration of Trad New Orleans, Dixieland and Swing Jazz in South West Scotland
The 20th annual festival in this unique small Scottish town will endeavour to maintain the high musical standards set by previous festivals. Visitors will have the chance to enjoy top class and highly professional artistes, some on a first time visit, as well as some old favourites, ensuring that the festival caters for jazz lovers of all ages who appreciate quality as well as variety in their entertainment.
Held from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th June 2017, it is a great time to visit this least populated area of Dumfries & Galloway, only an hour’s drive north of Carlisle. It is known as “the artists' town” because, like St Ives in Cornwall, it has that special kind of light, particularly at sunset, which attracted and continues to attract many successful artists to live and work in the region.
A great lineup - something for everyone
The 2017 Festival has a programme of bands and groups, some new to Kirkcudbright, some making a welcome return and featuring international and national musicians, playing a varied selection of hot, swinging, toe-tapping music which should appeal to a wide audience.
From eight o’ clock on Thursday 8th to midnight on Sunday 11th June 2017, some seventeen bands, groups and solo performers will appear in venues throughout Kirkcudbright providing over eighty hours of musical entertainment.
We open the festival in traditional style, with a return by our stalwarts of the Scottish jazz scene, the Penman Jazzmen from Glasgow, joined this year by Edinburgh-based The Ugly Bug Ragtime Trio. The latter is led by John Burgess and his Trio are making a first appearance, bringing some vintage ragtime including a mixture of classics and some long lost tunes that deserve to be heard again. For this opening night we will be using our new venue from 2016, the Cochran Hall, which attracted universal praise for the acoustics, space, facilities and services and, as a result, we intend this to be our focal venue for the 2017 Festival. It is very conveniently sited just through from the Tollbooth on the High Street (see our new Festival locations map here).
We then move straight into top gear on the Friday afternoon when our opening acts are joined by The Kirkcudbright International All Stars featuring, from Germany, Thomas l'Etienne and Uli Wunner on reeds, from Holland, Harry Kanters on piano and from Scotland, Kenny Milne on drums and Ken Macdonald on bass. We have an exciting Friday evening with a lineup including the hugely popular Dave Donohoe Band and The Big Easy, the Leeds-based swing/jump-jive band who made such a memorable impression when they played for the first time at the 2016 Festival. With jazz at three venues that evening you can also see the Savannah Jazz Band and Baby Jools and the Jazzaholics. The Friday evening lineup is rounded out by local group the Sulwath Syncopators and Friends who will be playing in the cosy and atmospheric Greyfriars venue.
On Saturday yet more bands from across the country join us to keep the tempo going. Amongst these are some firm favourites from past Festivals, including Mike Lovell’s Classic Jazz Band, while we are delighted to have secured a return by the enormously popular Spats Langham's Hot Fingers. We also have two new acts joining us in Kirkcudbright that evening, Emily Bacon's Good Time Gang and the Jake Leg Jug Band. All of these, together with a further appearance from some of the bands on Friday, will be playing at the key venues across the town, including a number of dining locations.
Start the Weekend in Style!
Many of the musicians from these bands will come together to form the Kirkcudbright All Stars Parade Band which, with parade marshals and “Brolly Dollies” will lead a decorated Brolly parade through the streets of the town at 11 am. Following the parade there will be a free concert of music and song in the Parish Church from the International All Stars and members of other bands.
Check out a video of one of our recent Brolly Parades here.
Dinner and Jazz - a pefect combination!
One of the features of the Festival is the “jazz dine-around” on each of the Thursday to Sunday evenings, with small groups or soloists providing music for diners in the intimate setting of local restaurants the Auld Alliance and the Castle Street Bistro, usually from 6 to 8 pm. The groups appearing this year are yet to be finalised and further information will be posted as soon as arrangements are confirmed. These events are very popular and bookings should be made directly with the restaurants to avoid disappointment. On the Saturday evening two larger dining venues will host bigger groups, with Havana Swing entertaining at the Selkirk Arms Hotel and the Kirkcudbright International All Stars appearing at the Cocoa Bean Chocolate Factory. Again, both venues have proved very popular and we strongly recommend you book in advance if you want a fine evening's entertainment and eating out - see our Jazz Dine-Around page.
A Rousing Finish
On Sunday we start the day with the lively Jazz Church Services in the Kirkcudbright Parish Church and, on the Moat Brae, in Greyfriars Church. Following the Church Services, sessions by Mike Lovell's Classic Jazz Band, Havana Swing (an exciting Gypsy Jazz group inspired by Django Reinhardt), the Jake Leg Jug Band and Emily Bacon's Good Time Gang will liven up the afternoon. We then congregate at our new focal location, the Cochran Hall, for a really rousing final Festival evening with Spats Langham's Hot Fingers, The Dime Notes and the Kirkcudbright International All Stars keeping us bouncing through to midnight.
People sometimes say “I don’t like jazz” but the music of this Festival is mainly from the 1920s and 30s, is very melodic, features songs from “The Great American Songbook”, is excellent for dancing and will be played with great skill and love by the band members so come along and give it a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
The programmes, on sale at a number of outlets in Kirkcudbright, show this year’s festival again promising to provide locals and visitors with an extravagant feast of entertainment and fine musicianship played in a variety of styles and catering for all tastes.
For further information on the festival please call 01557 330467. Festival tickets will be available from The Working Print Studio, 28 St Mary Street, Kirkcudbright; programmes will be on sale in a number of local shops and from band venues on Festival days. See also the Tickets Page on this site.