WOW. Just wow.
As the dust starts to settle on 2014 - a few just-finished-packing-down-thoughts...
Over the previous three festivals I’ve closed them feeling a mixture of sheer exhaustion, a bit of pride, a lot “how on earth do we do that again?”, and quite a bit of “why?”
Honestly, at the start of the year when funding was looking more than very bleak, we had no team and were struggling to hold things together following a successful but incredibly difficult year 3 I very nearly called it a day. The returning question of “why bother?” got stuck.
I’m incredibly pleased to say though that we stuck out and worked like mad to pull it together despite countless setbacks year round (mixed with some huge positives as well though before I get too negative).
Why do it?
Because festivals like this weekends can happen.
When people come together to truly celebrate the music, when artists are free to express themselves and can “just play”, when a team comes together and changes something. It can be improved upon but today I come away from LJF2014 exhausted, immensely proud and sad that the festival’s over. It’s been amazing. It’s been a turning point for me and a huge launching off point for LJF.
Bring on 2015. It will be something really special.
Some instant memories:
Dennis Rollins at The Golden Lion.
The insane audience numbers.
6.30am production meetings.
The craziest, most enthusiastic audience I’ve ever seen at The Initiative Open House. I’m not sure if I was in love or afraid.
Morecambe gear runs during headline sets. (Introduce Courtney Pine, check Dukes are happy, drive to More Music with fest team, pick up a ton of gear and move to Lancaster, catch the final tune of CP).
“It restored my faith in jazz”
The immense festival team and volunteers.
Talking bass clarinets with Courtney Pine.
A huge, enormous, heartfelt thank you to:
Dave Shooter, Jennifer Benson and Jack Bond. (I realise I will get stick for saying this) The forces of nature that are the festival team and that it’s just a pleasure and honour to try and keep up with. I have never seen people work harder or been so proud.
Our volunteers: Amanda, David, Fran, Hazel, Jessica, Kate, Kathryn, Laura, Paul & Paul, Ruth, Sally, Stephen, Steve, Tim, Trein, Victor, Xtof. You guys made it.
Ben Farmer and Darren Leadsom.
Chris Bye and Arts Council England and The PRSF Team.
Phil Simpson and the team at Lancaster Brewery.
Absolutely everyone at The Dukes - a truly incredible theatre/team/crew.
Atkinson's. For the coffee, for being ace and getting it from day 1.
The Golden Lion and The Robert Gillow
Simon Armstrong, Julie Brown, Leo Burtin, Steve Mead, & Pete Moser
Nick, David, Paul, Pete, Kathryn & all our lovely members.
Our artists. Every single one of them. Some inspirational playing and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Sorry to the people that I’ve missed out on here because I’m too tired at the moment.
And our audience. You were ridiculously awesome in your numbers, your support, your enthusiasm….
“You have probably the best jazz audience in the country” - Pedro Segundo - house drummer at Ronnie Scotts - Velocity Trio
“Jazz lives here in Lancaster”
Now. Let’s make it even better.
- Matt Robinson, festival director