It's just music to our ears!

THE Bellingen Jazz and Blues Festival will live to see in its 20th year thanks to $10,000 of support, part donation part loan, from Bellingen Shire Council.

The vote by councillors in favour of the funding request at last week's meeting came as a huge relief to long-time festival volunteer and 2009 musical director, Mauri Thomas, who presented the flagship festival's case to the chamber.

“This is an enormous relief…especially because it will be our 20th festival and it would have been such a shame to have stopped at 19,” Mr Thomas said.

The staging of the 2009 festival had been in doubt following the loss of $11,000 of Arts NSW funding.

“The abrupt stop to that funding came out of the blue,” he said.

“Now we realise if the festival is going to survive, it will need more outside funding.”

The show of support proved an even bigger bonus after the meeting, when on the strength of the council's decision IGA owners Ralph and Serena Lynch offered a further $10,000.

“This has all really lifted the committee's enthusiasm levels.”

He said the 20th festival would be a special event with the line-up already including the band that “played the very first notes at the very first festival” plus a tribute band to the late Tom Baker, whose premature death “has left a great hole as a friend and a musician”.

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