Karen Koren: Jazzed about the festival

Jacqui Dankworth
Jacqui Dankworth
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The Festival summer season has started and it’s Jazz Festival time in Edinburgh. There are more than 170 gigs to discover, spanning the early days of jazz to the best on the current scene. There’s also a Blues programme which crosses Southern blues, delta blues, Mississippi blues, Chicago blues, electric blues and acoustic blues. The Festival is hosting American stars and the best of home-grown talent.

The Edinburgh Jazz Festival was set up in 1978 by banjo-player and guitarist Mike Hart. His initial focus was traditional jazz, with a host of events in pubs, for free. By the mid-80s however, the Festival added ticketed events, and its musical policy broadened to encompass swing, blues and mainstream jazz. The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival has also grown in scope, presenting high quality musicians from all over the world. The programme this year is huge and includes such exciting bands as The California Feetwarmers, Blind Boys of Alabama, The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, Davina and the Vagabonds, vocalist Kandace Springs, The Loveboat Big Band and an old Fringe veteran, Earl Okin, who has performed many times at the Gilded Balloon. The wonderful Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are at the Festival Theatre and Jacqui Dankworth (daughter of Cleo Lane and Johnnie Dankworth) performs with Charlie Wood, US pianist vocalist, not to be confused with the Director of Underbelly. Jacqui, pictured, is in the newly completed Rose Theatre, where the Gilded Balloon will also be putting on shows during the Fringe.

The Rose Theatre, in the heart of Edinburgh’s West End, is going to be a great addition to the small and mid-scale theatre scene in Edinburgh and by the size of audiences that are already going to the Rose to enjoy the Jazz Festival, it will be a big success.

This week also brings the annual Castle Concerts, on Saturday there was Wet, Wet, Wet and it was a bit wet, but not enough to keep the fans away. Tonight is the already sold-out Olly Murs and the big one to really look forward to is on Saturday, when Deacon Blue perform. A show not to be missed, let’s hope it stays dry!

n Karen Koren is artistic director of the Gilded Balloon