2019 - A sunny festival weekend to remember!

Rye was once again alive with top class live music and carnival fun over the festival weekend. Audiences were treated to the very best of Jazz, Blues, Swing, Funk, Folk and Latin music. There was a real party atmosphere as music lovers, families and friends partied to the free music at the Kino outdoor stage, the Georgian Butter Market and various street and fringe venues throughout the town bathed in glorious sunshine.

For eight years now the Rye Jazz & Blues Festival has attracted thousands of new visitors to Rye. They come because they want to see and hear the best live music from top class performers in intimate settings around the town - most of it free to enjoy.

Crowds at the Kino Outdoor Stage lapped up the music from a wide range of artists including blues with Mark Harrison Band, the ever funky Drawtones, stunning musicianship with Sam Leak Quartet, 60’s inspired guitar riffs with Freak Flag, world music from Kent based Maiuko Quartet, Tuba with Theon Cross and his incredible band, party starters Mad Yella featuring vocalist Aisling Iris, saxophonist Soweto Kinch, hot sauce producing the Cosimo Matassa Project, game changers Beat Replacement, the Kansas Smitty’s House Band and festival favourites the Violet Jive.

2019 saw us introduce Spoken Word to the festival audience and it went down very well with Birdspeed and MC Gramski working his lyrical magic on the punters.

We were delighted to add an educational element to the line up and all four workshops held in the Rye Community Centre proved very popular - Percussion and Singing with local Charity (and our 2019 Festival Charity Partner) The Music Well, Improvisation with Soweto Kinch and the Jazz Journey with Kanas Smitty’s House Band.

The Devil in Rye played host to two delicious Jazz Suppers on Saturday and Sunday evenings before turning into the late night Jazz Bar we’ve been missing in recent years providing the stage for the supremely talented Liane Carroll and cabaret star Earl Okin (who also joined the Jazz Nights band at The Mermaid Inn on Thursday night).

The five custom painted street pianos were very popular and a huge success and we would like to thank the staff and young artists at the Rye College, Bournes Removals and our very own Nick Forman for collaborating on the project.

Other fringe venues included The Ship Inn, The Gallivant, The Kings Head and Simply Italian all hosted musicians over the festival weekend and we thank them for taking part in the festival. A special thank you once again goes out to Paul the Rye Town Crier for crying festival praises over the weekend and drawing in the crowds leading the fabulous marching band DAT Brass on their route through the citadel and around the ancient town walls. Other street musicians played outside Knoops at the Landgate, lovely lookoout Hilders Cliffe and the Georgian Butter Market throughout the weekend.

We were once again delighted to welcome back the Harvey’s Brewery Dray Horses who delighted the crowds on festival Monday.

None of the free music can take place without the very kind support of private individuals, patrons and companies including the Arts Council England, Big Lottery Fund, Chalk Cliff Trust, Rother District Council, UBI International, Pets Pyjamas, Benenden Hospital Trust, Harvey’s Of Lewis, Beside The Sea Holiday Cottages, Space Co Working, The Gallivant, Country Property Group, Rush Witt & Wilson Estate Agents, Heringtons Solicitors, PizzaExpress Live, Wilson Wilson & Hancock, Booker & Best Ltd, Eye Dream, Bramley & Teal Holiday Cottages, Reeds Rains Estate Agents, JD Architects, Stamco Building Supplies, Hastings International Piano Festival, Green Insurance Group and MRA Associates.

900 year old St Mary’s church once again provided the location for the 2019 headline concerts.

This year’s headline acts started with Rumer who performed an afternoon concert to a full house. She captivated the spellbound audience with her unique soft voice and during her performance you could hear a pin drop until the rapturous applause nearly raised the roof, the standing ovation said it all. She proved what a lovely person she was when she spent hours with her eager loyal fans signing photos and programmes, sitting in the grounds of St Mary’s church.

By total contrast Beverley Knight took to the stage on Saturday night, bursting into the arena with amazing power in her voice. She matched her dazzling outfit with a truly dazzling performance, confirming why she is in such worldwide demand. Exhausted but elated, the audience left for home many new faces promising to return for the winter concert series.

Jon Cleary also brought the house down with his New Orleans band. He put on a storming performance and delivered a truly blinding set to a full house, many of whom had travelled some distance to see such a legend in this intimate venue.

Sunday evening saw master of Blues Lucky Peterson take centre stage, the distinctive sound of his Hammond organ lit the touchpaper and his blues guitar renditions were exceptional, the audience exploding with delight as he sat amongst them whilst they danced the evening away. He didn’t want to stop nor did the crowds want him to but he finally closed and he and his talented Texan volcalist Tamara Tramell left the audience on their feet!

The James Taylor Quartet opened on Monday afternoon, jazz funk at its finest and again centred around the iconic Hammond organ. It wasn’t long before the temptation got too much, the audience up on their feet enjoying every moment of another fabulous performance.

Richard Thompson arrived on stage on Monday evening to close out the festival and the audience had fantastic value for money as they witnessed another world renowned guitarist play his heart out. Richard is considered by many to be one of the greatest living guitarists of all time and his performance was testimony to this.

We are delighted to let you know our Festival Charity Partner The Music Well raised £2200 over the weekend at the headline concerts. Thank you to everyone who donated to the buckets throughout the weekend.

Sadly the 8th Rye Jazz and Blues Festival is over now and a new benchmark has been set, the bar having been raised yet again. A huge thank you goes out to all our volunteers - marshals, ushers, security staff - and sponsors without whom the festival wouldn’t happen.

Please take a look at our 2019 Festival Gallery to remind yourself what fun was had and we look forward to welcoming you all back in 2020 and stayed tuned for our Christmas Series announcements shortly.

Birdspeed Soweto Kinch DAT Brass Town Crier Beverley Knight St Mary's Audience Piano

Posted on 02/09/2019 by Ian Bowden

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