And what of the Jazz Festival – ?

A Brief history and a new venue

We started planning the Castlemaine Jazz Festival in February 2013. After a false start in Maldon, it saw the light of day in June 2014, after John Hannah had got on board. I only mention this because that now looks like lightning quick progress. We first proposed a Jazz Festival in Kew in 2018. The idea was that this would provide an opportunity for some jammers to get involved, and it would attract Melbourne based bands, including those who would find the cost of the various country town Festivals as prohibitive. A trip to Wangaratta or Castlemaine costs around $400 by the time you stop drinking, eating, carousing etc.

The Junction Hotel. Our first fiasco was the idea of using three performance rooms in the Junction, hosting 24 -28 bands over two days. Heaps of careful planning went into this, only we forgot to factor in the Junk going broke in April 2018. At which point we approached Studley Park Boathouse, (great venue, no time available) and then Kew Junction Business Association (funded by Boroondarah Council with a mission to promote the High Street business district).. All we asked of them was that they supply the venues from their membership. We held positive discussions with both Hellenic Republic and QPO on High Street, only to have both venues propose a venue hire fee in addition to the free music and up to 500 people a day we would put in there.

Their room hire fee of $100 per musician for the Festival ($18,000) was either ludicrous, excessively greedy, unrealistic or a really good idea if you owned a venue and weren’t a musician. If we had that sort of money, we could have booked out Paris Cat and Birds Basement simultaneously.

Back to the drawing board… two hours later, the Captain came up with an alternative:

The “Other” Newport Jazz Festival. In the other Newport which is a little cultural hot spot just before you get to Williamstown.

So… the plan is:

The Date: Hold the Festival at Newport on May 2nd, May 3rd 2020

The Venues Use 5, maybe 6 venues including the Newport Library/.Community Centre, The Newport Bowls Club, the Newport RSL, and the Scout Hall (maybe)

The Bands: Book 40 – 50 bands who are prepared to volunteer their services in return for an equal share of any surplus made.

The Web Site Jess (the singer) is preparing a red hot web site. We are proposing to transfer the Newsletter and such recipients on th e-mail as are interested to the website.

The Committee are keen, the venues are keen, the Council is keen. What could possibly go wrong?

Stay tuned to find out!

2 Comments

    1. Janet
      Yes, we do know that – Col attended last year’s Folk Festival. We will be using some of the same venues. The Bowls Club and RSL are both keen on the idea of a jazz Festival, and Williamstown Council have been enthusiastically supportive – but that might be because we are not asking them for funding in the first year – the Festival will be run by a committee of volunteers, and as with our previous experience with Castlemaine Jazz Festival, we will not be taking a cent. So if you put a band in, don’t forget to say “thankyou” to the committee afterwards as that is the only reward we will looking for. Actually, we are seeing the Venue managers this afternoon, and the Festival info is a draft which I should have released after that, but it all takes time to put together and I put it out last night. Hopefully it won’t change- we have had verbal approval and will get it in writing tonight.

      Cheers

      Ted Woollan

      Reply

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