Wangaratta Council’s Jenny Bevis, Jazz and Blues festival’s Paul Squires and council’s Penny Hargrave with the bunting. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSONTHIS year is the 25th anniversary for Wangaratta’s Festival of Jazz and Blues with its best ever line-up of artists, according to chairman Paul Squires.
He has praised the foresight of those who so many years ago came up with the idea for the festival and continued on with it.
Mr Squires said it was now the biggest jazz and blues festival in Australia, worth about $3million to $4.5million to the region.
He said for every dollar spent with the festival another $5 was spent in the town or nearby.
“Our budget alone is now up around the $800,000 mark,” Mr Squires said as hectic preparations continued for the festival starting next Friday.
“It is a tribute to the people who had the vision to start it.”
More than 200 acts will perform at the festival which runs from Friday to Monday.
The program features international jazz and blues artists from the US, Italy and New Zealand performing alongside the cream of Australian musicians.
There is an overseas contingent of artists, but Mr Squires had special mentions for US blues hall of famer Joe Louis Walker and Italian trumpet and flugelhorn maestro Enrico Rava.
Mr Squires said Walker was one of the best blues artists in the world and Rava is a “magician on trumpet”.
But one of the things he likes most about the festival is the impromptu performances when artists get together and “jam”.
The community, as always, gets on board with the festival and has been providing bunting for decoration around the city.
The variety of venues range from the performing arts centre, the city’s cathedral to marquees, hotels and wineries in nearby Milawa, Oxley and Taminick.
Blues lovers have their own marquee on the banks of the Ovens River.
One of the city’s main streets, Reid Street, is closed to traffic and becomes an ideal venue for a food and wine market, with a free jazz stage and music all weekend.
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