CLITHEROE: A TOWN OF CULTURE
Clitheroe is always a hive of activity with its many and varied independent businesses, shops and cultural events. This year the upcoming Ribble Valley Jazz Festival goes international
The Ribble Valley Jazz Festival has long been known for its commitment to quality, creativity and public engagement in the promotion of jazz and blues music. And this year, it has added ‘international’ to its title, as Lancashire’s biggest and boldest festival.
Organised by Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club with the vast majority of the programme taking place in Clitheroe, the festival features a wide ranging programme of live music and workshops over five days around the May Day Bank Holiday.
Attended by more than 8,000 people in 2017, this year will see more than 80 gigs and 500 performers coming to town. As well as ticketed shows in its headline venues, there is a lively festival fringe with quality acts in pub venues and a free-to-attend Street Festival.
Household name and leading jazz singer and radio presenter Clare Teal leads a superb line-up, that also includes Norway-based pianist and composer Bugge Wesseltoft, Jamaican jazz trailblazers Denys Baptiste and Camilla George, Italian/US band Pericopes and emerging, contemporary UK talent Mammal Hands.
In addition, there is a dedicated ‘On the Edge’ stage to cater for more experimental forays with the likes of World Service Project and J Frisco, while those preferring a more traditional swing to their jazz will delight at the festival finale, the Swingtime Big Band with internationally acclaimed singer Andy Prior.
It all adds up to one of the most varied and refreshing music line-ups of any festival in the north of England, let alone one aimed at championing jazz music.
“We’re building towards another exciting festival with an international calibre programme featuring something for everyone,” explains Festival Director Geoff Jackson.
“We are delighted to have continued support from Arts Council England’s lottery funded grants, for the arts programme, UCLAN and excellent relationships from partner venues such as The Grand and Holmes Mill.”
“All of this has helped us promote and present jazz music in creative and innovative ways which has seen us continuously increase audiences with a broad based programme that has something for everybody while keeping the quality really high.”
The work of Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues has helped trigger something of a jazz movement in East Lancashire over the years. Recent concerts at The Grand in Clitheroe has seen jazz giant Courtney Pine and singer Zara McFarlane perform in Clitheroe.
The Grand Programme Manager Matt Evans explains: “The Jazz Festival has put Clitheroe on the map as a destination and we are now seeing regular internationally touring artists coming to The Grand all the year round. The festival has played a major role in growing that reputation and we are drawing jazz fans to Clitheroe from an ever wider growing area.”
The festival’s launch concert takes place on Thursday 3rd May, when UK saxophonist Alan Barnes, plays alongside the highly regarded Dave Newton, at Bowland Brewery’s Holmes Mill in Clitheroe.
The finale of the festival takes place on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon