The week was plagued with unpredictable weather, but the sun was shining on the Hunter Valley last weekend for the annual Jazz in the Vines festival.
The event celebrated its 20th anniversary, and the weather, line-up, and atmosphere was fitting for such a milestone. I can’t remember the weather being kinder to us; it was perfect under the shade of the trees that border the open spaces near Tyrell’s Winery. The navy’s Royal Australian City Big Band was already warming up the crowds when we arrived. It seems we arrived during rush hour as the queues at food and beverage outlets were a little longer than usual, but the variety of stalls ensured we still weren’t waiting too long. Drinks in hand we settled in to catch the second act on the bill, the Dixie Ticklers.
I can’t remember another international act gracing the Jazz in the Vines stage, but this British band fit right in. Despite hailing from the United Kingdom, the Dixie Ticklers had a real New Orleans vibe that took us back to the roots of jazz. With so many artists from this festival pushing the boundaries of exactly what jazz is, it was refreshing to see a band representing the genre so purely.
Grace Knight strayed from her pop roots and celebrated the standards featured on more recent releases. Like the fine wines we were consuming from the good folks at Tamburlaine, her voice only gets better with age. Her version of “I’m a Woman” was killer, and my inner child loving hearing her bust out her Eurogliders’ hit “Heaven (Must Be There).”
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