Jazz and Blues Festival called off

ONE of Bellingen Shire’s signature events, the Bellingen Jazz and Blues Festival, won’t be happening this year due to the lack of a musical director.

Festival president Jonothon Deans said none of the committee had been happy to make the tough decision to end the 21-year tradition but it was generally agreed that a music festival without a musical director would be a recipe for disaster.

“Although the committee play an important role in making the festival happen, it is the director who pulls the strings. It is a demanding voluntary job that takes up at least some time every day every week, with the groundwork starting in January each year,” Mr Deans said.

Musical director for the past four years, Roger Burke, said the director needed a very thorough knowledge of the jazz music scene, including contacts with musicians, young and old.

“It is a difficult role – you are trying to get a good balance in the program between well-known and new talent plus you might be rung up at the last minute to find a bass player for a band,” Mr Burke said.

Mr Deans said there would still be some jazz event on the traditional third weekend in August, probably a major concert on Saturday, August 20.

“We need to keep that weekend in people’s minds and also keep our committee focused.”

He said festival finances were healthy, following a modest profit from last year’s festival.

“We don’t want to squander that – we’ll look after it and look forward to returning in 2012, hopefully with additional input from new committee members.”

The festival committee meets on the first Monday of each month in the office above the Bellingen Memorial Hall foyer – everyone is welcome.

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