Wangaratta Jazz Festival

Taking place over the weekend of Friday the 28th of October through to Monday the 31st,The Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues will be not only be showcasing the finest local and international jazz and blues artists but it will also feature the best of the lovely Wangaratta region; an abundance of quality, locally produced wines and gourmet foods. For festival director Adrian Jackson, putting the program together is all about combining the finest in music, wine and food and using the best elements of the region to create the best possible festival experience. “Well I’ve never really been one for, you know pursuing a specific theme from one year to the next,” explains Jackson.

For jazz and blues enthusiasts alike, there’s certainly no shortage of talent on offer. Just some of the international artists appearing at this year’s festival include Cuban pianist Fabian Almazan, French solo bassist Barre Phillips as well as American tribune legend Josh Roseman, just to name a few. “Well I suppose in one sense people tend to focus in the first instance on who are the international acts because you know by definition they’re people that you don’t normally get to see throughout the year,” offers Jackson. “We’ve got Josh Roseman from New York with his band which is a very interesting combination in its own right and beyond that they’ll be doing a special concert with the Australian Art Orcharstra so that will be unique and special and I think anyone who’s able to catch that will, I’m sure will see that as a highlight of the festival program.”


The locals are well represented too, with two members of rock band Thirty Merc; Phil Stack and Rai Thistlethwayte taking to the stage in their Jazz musician incarnations as well as appearances by the likes of Katie Noonan. It certainly seems that this year’s festival has something for everyone. “Yeah I’d like to think so,” agrees Jackson. “Whether you’re a hardcore jazz fan or just someone who’s curious to find out a bit more about jazz, you know I think there’s so many bands playing, so many venues it’d be kind of hard to go to Wangaratta and not come away having heard something new and surprising and exciting.”


But the music is only one part of the diverse festival. Being situated in the well renowned wine and food region that is Wangaratta; these two elements combine to form the core of the overall festival experience. “Look Wangaratta’s kind of well known for quality food and there’s a great winery in the area so one of the features at the festival is the free tasting on the street,” explains Jackson. “There’s a whole stall setup with local produce and wines on sale so you know for visitors to the town that’s a great opportunity to sample some of that. And then on the Monday afternoon, not an official public holiday but a semi public holiday a lot of people take that day off to make it a long weekend leading up to cup day.”


With the music spread out over a host of different venues throughout the area, there’s also a number of suitable ways to go about fitting in everything that you want to see and do within the given time frame. “When you get the festival pass that gives you access to all the big events so if you’d like to sort of hear a little bit of everything you can walk between the different venues,” Jackson suggests. “If there’s some acts you specifically want to hear in the main venue you can buy reserved seats and make sure you get in there without having to queue up. And yeah look some people buy the festival pass and see three or four bands in the day, they’re happy with that, and in between they’ll just hang out and enjoy a glass of wine or make it a social day with some of their friends. Other people just like to just listen to all the music; you know start at ten in the morning and go through and see as many bands as they can possibly fit in.” So, jazz, blues and wine enthusiasts, what are you waiting for?


Wangaratta Jazz Festival takes place from Friday October 28 until Monday October 31. Check out wangarattajazz.com for full details.