This year’s Blues on the Farm, just outside Chichester, rings the changes by kicking off with a night of jazz blues.
The festival runs from June 19-22, with tickets available on 01243 773828. Launching it all will be the Big Chris Barber Band. Festival director Julian Moores is delighted to welcome them.
British jazz trombonist Barber celebrates his 65th year as a band leader this year. Inspired by the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band, Chris formed his first Barber New Orleans Band in 1949 at the age of 19. In 1953, he joined forces with Ken Colyer. Then, with the replacement of Colyer by Pat Halcox, Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen became Chris Barber’s Jazz Band in 1954 and has been one of Europe’s most successful traditional jazz bands ever since.
Also on the Thursday night will be Antonio Forcione with Sarah Jane Morris, a combination Julian describes as an acoustic Jimi Hendrix and a politicised Janis Joplin.
Lining up over the days that follow will be – among others – Hamilton Loomis, Mike Sanchez, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Federal Charm and The Blues Band featuring Paul Jones.
Last year’s June festival was Blues On The Farm’s first time back in its traditional slot after the disasters of 2012 when the event was rained off the calendar in the summer and then reassembled in the early autumn.
Many festival-goers had booked their holidays around the June slot and couldn’t therefore make the revised date, but Julian took the decision that everyone should be offered refunds: “Some events might just have said ‘tough luck!’ but we refunded everybody. We wanted to keep faith with our audiences that have stuck with us. That was really important to us.”
It meant that last year’s festival was a recovery festival, and to an extent the recovery continues this year. But Julian is convinced he has a line-up that will bring in the crowds: “We have not really had a big blues jazz band before. Chris Barber is just phenomenal. He has been going 60-70 years. You have the professionalism. You have the longevity. Others have come and gone, but he has kept going. And he is great at bringing on the younger performers. I think it will be about a 14-piece band altogether.
“There is a dearth of really good jazz going on in the area. West Sussex has its little satellite jazz clubs around, but we don’t get to see the big jazz band performers unless you go up to London.”
Julian is also delighted to see the return of Blues On The Farm favourite Paul Jones with his Blues Band. Just as with Chris Barber, you have long years in the business coupled with complete professionalism, Julian said.
Julian is also pleased to welcome back Mike Sanchez after around four years away from the festival, largely because he is now living in Spain. Julian is promising one of the most dynamic performers on the circuit, as Julian says, a cross between Fats Domino, Fats Waller and Little Richard.
The programme also has an American thread with the inclusion of Royal Southern Brotherhood and Hamilton Loomis.
“I think Royal Southern Brotherhood play Shepherd’s Bush Empire the day after or the day before they are with us. They are really amazing people, and it is a great chance for people here to see someone they would not normally see. They are just here on a short tour.”