Winchester Jazz Festival - Immediate Reflection

As I write this I have the post party blurry feeling, reeling from the Winchester Jazz Festival. I just wanted to document some of my thoughts and experiences while it was fresh in my mind.

It has felt like the festival has grown into something much bigger than we had set out to achieve. It’s created a real buzz of excitement across the city and we gather the interests of a wider audience with each passing year. The Jazz Trail was a great success. All of the venues that hosted performances were wonderful to work with and very accommodating towards the musicians that were performing. I was lucky enough to catch some performances from Mo Woods, Julie Lewis, Draw By Four and Lounge Lizard (I hopped in on sax for their second set). What was wonderful to see is that the festival has helped to shift attitudes towards live music. It wasn’t purely provided as ‘background noise’ or ‘ atmosphere’, people were there to listen and appreciate the music and the performers, and in response, the performers were able to engage more with their audience and tell more of their story, through words and through the music. People came to listen to the jazz. This shift in attitude meant that pubs, bars and restaurants suddenly felt like a jazz club or an intimate theatre. Every single performer that was part of the festival is incredibly talented and they deserve to be shown appreciation for their life long dedication to their craft and artistry. It’s been thrilling to have played a part in creating a platform for them to showcase their skills.

The Theatre Royal hosted an inspiring and engaging performance from YolanDa Brown. She is not only a doctor, extremely musically gifted, training to become a racing driver, a keen linguist, young, a mother, pioneering her own genre of music - Posh Reggae, but she is also a very generously spirited, kind and wonderful person! We were very lucky to have her opening the festival and are thankful to the Theatre Royal for their support.

The Railway has been a wonderful hub once again for our headline evening performances. With many independent music venues struggling to keep afloat in this current economic climate we want to do as much as possible to support this heritage performance space. The people that work there are incredibly passionate and dedicated to what they do and I am thankful for all their hard work and madness.

Thanks also must go to Gary and Marcus at Cabinet Rooms who have believed in and backed what we are setting out to do. They are hugely supportive and generous in their help, knowledge and hospitality.

Above all I am incredibly overwhelmed with love for my fellow directors, Hannah Castleman and Anna Harding. It’s down to their incredible unwavering hard work and vision that this festival happens at all. I am proud to call them my friends and colleagues. They are totally bonkers and we have a brilliant time.

So to anyone who played, watched, showed interest, bought a ticket or watched a free event - an enormous Thank You to you! I hope that we can achieve all this again and more next year!

Louisa Revolta