For eight years now the Rye Jazz & Blues Festival has attracted thousands of new visitors to Rye. They come because they want to see and hear the best live music from top class performers in an intimate setting.
St Mary’s church is always the venue for the headline concerts and whilst not without its challenges, the building provides the perfect setting for an intimate performance, one of the reasons why so many of the artists want to return.
This year’s headline acts started with Rumer who performed an afternoon concert to a full house. She captivated the spellbound audience with her unique soft voice and during her performance you could hear a pin drop until the rapturous applause nearly raised the roof, the standing ovation said it all.
What a moving performance and what a lovely person she is which was evident when she spent a lot of time with her eager fans, signing photos and programmes, sitting in the grounds of St Mary’s church.
By total contrast Beverley Knight took to the stage on Saturday night, bursting into the arena with amazing power in her voice. She matched her dazzling outfit with a truly dazzling performance, confirming why she is in such worldwide demand. Exhausted but elated, the audience left for home, many promising to return for the winter concert series.
Jon Cleary also brought the house down, what a performer and what stage presence as he delivered a superb set to another full house, many of whom had travelled some distance to see such a legend.
Sunday evening saw the one and only Lucky Peterson take centre stage, the distinctive sound of his Hammond organ lit the touch paper and his blues guitar renditions were exceptional, the audience exploding with delight as he sat amongst them whilst they danced the evening away. He didn’t want to stop nor did the crowds want him to but he finally closed and he and his talented Texan vocalist Tamara Tramell left the audience on their feet, their hands stinging in admiration.
The James Taylor Quartet opened on Monday afternoon, jazz funk at its finest and again centred around the iconic Hammond organ. It wasn’t long before the temptation got too much, the audience up on their feet enjoying every moment of another fabulous performance.
Richard Thompson arrived on stage on Monday evening and the audience had fantastic value for money as they witnessed another world-renowned guitarist play his heart out. Richard is considered by many to be one of the greatest living guitarists of all time. His performance was testimony to this, the response from the audience was equally as enthusiastic.
Sadly the 8th Rye Jazz and Blues Festival is over now but a new benchmark has been set, the bar having been raised yet again. A big thank-you goes out to all the marshals, ushers, security staff, supporters and sponsors without whom the festival wouldn’t happen.
Ian Bowden, festival Director, has made his dream a reality by producing one of the best boutique music festivals in the country. His team includes Lauren Moody, production and event manager who, like Ian, works tirelessly to make sure all the events and finer details function on the day. She is the glue which holds everything together. Ian’s wife Vicki looks after all the financial and marketing side of the business and has always given Ian 100% support despite having her own career and a family to look after.
Kate Glover is a fundamental part of the team, an event manager and accountant by profession and has been managing the St Mary’s events since 2015.
No concert would be complete without sound and lighting. For anyone who has been to any of the concerts they cannot fail to be impressed by the stunning lighting display provided by John Bryant and his team from his company, On Stage.
John has been with the festival since day one and always delivers a professional and bespoke package to suit each artist.
Plans are already afoot for more future events, details of which will be going live in the coming weeks. Watch this space for further information or keep in touch via ryejazz.com
Image Credits: Vicki Haxton , Tony Ham .