Bellingen and all that jazz
WHAT is it with Jazz musos?
No matter what time of day it is, they're out there getting feet tapping.
Yesterday it was early on a perfect winter's morning at the Old Butter Factory for the opening of this year's Bellingen Jazz and Blues Festival.
And the crowd were loving it ? along with their pancakes and coffees.
Coordinator Ted Greenwood was delighted.
"This is so good," Mr Greenwood said.
"We have been working to solidify the festival's traditions this year and bring it back to the community.
"The Old Butter Factory Breakfast is part of that.
"Plus we have a lot more
SOMEONE once said 'the saxophone is the embodied spirit of beer', but for Australian composer Sandy Evans, it is the expressive vocal quality of the instrument that inspires her.
All its shades and many more will be on show when Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium ensemble, Stax of Sax, present the world premiere of her new work, 'Five Portraits of Bellingen' this weekend.
"When Carol Hellmers (conservatorium director) offered me the opportunity to write a piece specifically for this group, I was delighted," Ms Evans said.
"I had been to Bellingen heaps, like so many musicians, and I love it, I love the people.
"The piece celebrates the beauty of the area and it is also an opportunity to give the young players in the ensemble a chance to try some new techniques."
Written in five movements and lasting about 20 minutes, Ms Evans said she set the musicians some challenges, but when she heard them in June, they were doing 'wonderfully'.
"I can't wait to hear it."
Ensemble leader, Chris Frater, said it was an exciting and wondrous feeling to be playing a brand new piece of music.
"We are unearthing different characteristics and bringing something of our own understanding of the valley to the music," Mr Frater said.free events in the program at venues around the town ? here, up at the hotel, the markets, the council park and the church on Sunday."
What was meant to be a smaller tighter festival has ended up bigger than ever and that's already reflected in the ticket sales.
"Our box office is better than last year already. Our program is much broader, rather than focusing on one headline act. We've got 50 performances at 14 venues and a lot of younger musicians."
The pull of the festival is certainly working.
Visitors were arriving from all over the country.
Gavin Cane was on the 6:30 flight from Sydney to meet up with friends.
Sandra Dickinson was up from Canberra and having a dance with Bert Schip, who she often bumps into at festivals.
Jan Sweet, now of Sandy Beach, hails from New Orleans.
"I grew up with these rhythms," Ms Sweet said.
"In fact, my mother who has Alzheimer's, still does the beebop whenever she hears jazz playing."
Allan O'Flaherty ('it's not a name it's a liability') has been coming to the festival for 12 years. "I love the atmosphere ? it's such a friendly talented town."
In his opening speech, the mayor, Cr Mark Troy, said 'the festival focuses attention on Bellingen and the Shire like no other event'.