Town may groove to a halt

Rye comes to a halt as the Fat Tuesday jazz street band comes marching down Market Street as part of the Rye Jazz Festival


As the Rye International Jazz and Blues Festival comes to town for the whole of this Bank Holiday weekend, traffic may indeed grind to a halt whenever a marching band sets the New Orleans tone – as it did (above) in Market Street last year.

Indeed, the historic Market Street area will be a focus for many of the events – free and not for free – during the Festival. Two ticketed major concerts will be held in St Mary’s church behind the Town Hall and many free events will be staged in the Butter Market (under the Town Hall) or outside the Kino cinema (a few steps across Lion Street) from lunchtimes onward.

But there will be other events in pubs, bars and even shops scattered around this historic Cinque Port and events are still being added – and the names of bands and performers announced – as the Festival draws closer. For the latest information see also Neale East’s report on our Culture page.

The festival kicked off on Thursday August 25 with Phil Law and friends in The Standard on The Mint. The Standard is also hosting King Size Slim on Sunday afternoon (August 28) at 4pm.

One of the new venues, also in Mermaid Street and on the West Street corner, is the Swann Emporium (once an art gallery) and it will be interesting to see how it works. Dan Carter is there, for example, on Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 3pm.

Another already tested venue  is the champagne and jazz bar at the top of Conduit Hill just off the High Street by Adams shop. This regularly hosts champagne cocktails from 6:30pm to midnight (which I have yet to try).

As Conduit Hill is very steep and cobbled at this point the Street Pastors  would be useful – with their offer of flip flops  in place of risky stilettos for those who have had an enjoyable evening. But the bar itself, like the hill, is very historic and charming and should be a great venue for nocturnal jazz.

However the jazz is going all day with outdoor events, for instance at a stage at the Kino and in the nearby half-sheltered Butter Market and street food, including jambalaya (a dish popular in New Orleans of Spanish/French origin and a bit like paella) and a BBQ (which probably means burgers and sausages). For latest details visit

Elsewhere in town, the Ypres Inn (up behind the castle and near the Gun Garden) has its outdoor stage for the third, and last, weekend with the Force Ten Big Band on Saturday (3:30pm-7:30pm); on Sunday Yoka and Big Ray (3pm-5pm); and (6pm-8pm) Lipsticks and Beatniks, ending on Monday (4pm-7pm) with The Rockitmen for a Bank Holiday Special.

On Friday night if you want to find Rye’s Mayor and a couple of other town councillors, the Rye Bay Crew are starring at the Queen’s Head in Landgate from 8:30pm – and the Crew, whose repertoire is extensive and wide ranging, will probably embrace some jazz classics.

Jazz will dominate the town from dawn to dusk (and a lot later) and the Brass Funkeys are scheduled to be marching in the High Street at noon on Saturday – so you have been warned!

Photo : Rye News library

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .


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