“You two are obviously like swans - serene outwardly but panicking underneath”. Apparently. Said the lovely Ian from Atkinsons during a meeting yesterday.
In many ways he’s right - we’re working at full capacity at the moment trying to sort every detail on by far the biggest and most complicated festival we’ve produced. I disagree with him that we look serene on the surface though - every member of the festival team works full time in other jobs and I for one am knackered. As our associate producer Leo noted a typical Lancaster Jazz thing happens at 2am, with evening meetings and late night texts between the volunteer festival team. It’s exhausting but exciting.
With a week to go my main concerns are purely practical - what have we forgotten? - how far can we stretch the budget to get everything we want - where to we find these things. It’s all the detail. Everything big (artists, stages, contractors etc) is already in place but it’s the bits that really make the festival. Making sure pianos will be tuned, we know what all the artists need so there’s no surprises, that contingencies are in place and are thought through and realistic, where do I need to be, are all our lovely partners, volunteers, staff OK?
My highlights from LJF14 then are:
Dennis Rollins and Courtney Pine (obviously - I have to say that).
I’ve seen Pine loads and he’s always astonishing, and Dennis Rollins’ Velocity Trio album is truly stunning. I’ve had numerous people phone me during Velocity Trio intervals telling me that we HAVE to have them at Lancaster. It’s gonna be amazing.
The Lancaster Brewery Stage
Some of the best musicians in the country who (he said jealously) also happen to be under 25. There’s also great beer and yesterday we found some room to offer free taxi’s to our first 30 audience members so you don’t have to worry about having a few.
I’m not sure I’m excited to be honest. More terrified about this. It’s the biggest technical thing we’ve done (bigger than assembling a new venue within another venue like we did one day last year). We’ve always wanted it to be quality and the plans are ace. There’s a bit to go on our crowd funding if you want to be amazing and help chip in - it’s all getting there....
Including our very first Youth Jazz Commission. Just cool.
To get the most out of the festival follow the festival team on twitter (@lancasterjazz) for up to the minute news. Keep reading this blog as we update throughout the festival. Get your tickets in advance for the headliners (here) and grab your free taxi now.
We’ll see you next week!
- Matt Robinson, festival director