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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I expected Jazz in the Vines would be bigger than ever on its 20th anniversary, but I’m blown away at the talent assembled for 2012.
For the first time international acts will grace the stage at the Hunter Valley’s Tyrell Vineyards including New Orleans jazz legend Henry Butler and the United Kingdom’s Dixie Ticklers. They’ll join local heroes including Grace Knight, Tom Burlinson, and festival favourite Lisa Hunt.
More acts will be announced in the coming months, but that’s probably enough to get fans excited about the October 29 festival. Promoters will reward that loyalty by offering discounted early bird tickets Gets yours from the Jazz in the Vines website from March 19.
Image source: Grace Knight website
Australia’s festival calendar is always crowded, but every year I make time to take in at least one: Jazz in the Vines. Anyone who’s been knows why. You can always count on exceptional tunes, superb food and wine, and some of the friendliest music lovers you could ever meet. This year’s was a little greyer than usual, but that did nothing to dampen the spirits of all involved.
I arrived to the traditional jazz stylings of the NSW Police Band. They were such a tight outfit, and perfect for easing us in to the day. Their classic jazz tunes were a natural warm-up for Feel the Manouche featuring living legend George Washingmachine. Again this was a classic jazz set punctuated by the tunes of Cole Porter and the like. However the unlikely blend of violin, double bass, and piano accordion brought a lovely gypsy flavour to the music. It was mellow but stunning, a great backdrop for a casual lunch and a few glasses of wine.
The intensity picked up with Weird Assembly, an exciting ten-piece who played big brassy soulful grooves. I really enjoyed their sound, particularly the gutsy rasp of vocalist and sometimes saxophonist David Weir. Sadly his enthusiasm came off a little desperate at times. The Jazz in the Vines crowd certainly isn’t too shy to dance if they want to. The repeated pleas for more participation started to grate.
Lisa Hunt proved that when the moment is right, the punters will groove. She closed the festival a few years back, and with Saturday’s set she proved that excellent set was no fluke. She had the throng on its feet with her Motown and disco heavy performance. Perhaps The Four Tops and Thelma Houston numbers weren’t jazz, but no one seemed to mind one bit. While she performed admirably as a solo act the moment when she called on three audience members to serve as her Supremes was a real highlight. One girl’s killer vocals even threatened to upstage Ms Hunt’s!
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Tickets are now on sale for the Hunter Valley’s premiere music festival, Jazz in the Vines.
After exceptional performances in 2010, Kate Ceberano and James Morrison are heading back for another serve. They’ll be joined by Lisa Hunt, Weird Assembly, and George Washingmachine, and that’s just for starters. Expect to hear more artist announcements before the festival rolls around on October 29.
Reserve your spot through Ticketmaster, Moshtix, or the Jazz in the Vines website and get ready to soak up the good vibes, good tunes, and a few vinos!
Image source: own photo
When I’m unwell, it takes a lot for me to leave the comfort of home and venture out. But I found myself doing just that on Saturday when I took in the annual Jazz in the Vines festival. This is always a highlight of my yearly concert calendar, and I wasn’t going to let any virus hold me back.
Being sick made this a different kind of Jazz in the Vines for me. I couldn’t indulge in the all that brilliant wine, or dance up the front near as the stage as I usually do. But I could enjoy the music, and enjoy it I did.
Sadly it took me a bit longer to get out than it might have if I were well, and I missed the Silver Bell Quartet. But I’m so glad I arrived for the Adrian Cunningham Quartet. Led by the incredibly sexy and talented Adrian Cunningham, the quartet treated us to instrumental jazz gems. The set only became stronger when Steve Clisby joined them for several numbers. Their version of “God Bless The Child” was exquisite, and I also loved their swinging version of “Moondance.”
Somewhere around the end of their set the unseasonably summery weather started to get to me. It’s terrible to be sick when you’re supposed to be out having fun, but the gentle acoustic guitar strains of Bruce Mathiske were probably the best medicine for it. I must admit, I was a bit dizzy and faint to remember much of his set, but his version of “Classical Gas” was outstanding.
After getting plenty of water and some yummy calamari in me I started to feel a little better, just in time for James Morrison to take the stage. He’s always a Jazz in the Vines highlight, and this year was no exception. His exceptional talent and charisma just makes for a wonderful show. It was also kind of thrilling to see my new crush Adrian Cunningham taking his place in James’ band. While I was lapping up the instrumental stuff, the energy levels went up a notch when Doug Parkinson joined James. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see this Australian legend doing his thing; he really is a truly magnificent artist. My parents have been seeing him since the ’70s and swear that his voice is only getting better. I really don’t doubt it. Those reality TV show contestants could learn a thing or two about performing a cover version from Doug; whether he was encouraging us to get up and dance with some Blood Sweat and Tears or Joe Cocker numbers, or wowing us with a show stopping version of “Somewhere,” he was incredible.
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The line-up for Jazz in the Vines, one of my favorite music festivals, has been announced.
This year’s chilled out event will feature a veritable who’s who of Aussie talent, including Kate Ceberano, Doug Parkinson, festival regular James Morrison, and Bruce Mathiske.
The 2010 show will have a soul flavour to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Motown. But don’t think the festival has abandoned its jazz roots; we can expect both styles of music to feature prominently in this year’s set.
If you’ve always thought about going, why not make 2010 the year? Grab your picnic blanket and head to Tyrells Vineyard for one of the most chilled out, positive festivals on the music calendar. It all happens on October 30, and tickets are on sale now from the Jazz in the Vines website.
Image source: The Harbour Agency
Rain plagued New South Wales last week. But it was almost as if the weather gods knew that I was heading to Jazz in the Vines at Tyrells Winery on Saturday, because those storm clouds disappeared to reveal a glorious day. The sunshine was just the first thing that went right that day.
We arrived with just enough time to set up our deck chairs and purchase a bottle of verdelho from one of the six wineries on hand before the entertainment began. We settled in to enjoy the instrumental brilliance of Newcastle jazz outfit the Adam Miller Band. Adam Miller is a charismatic front man, open with the crowd and keen to share the stories of the tunes he’s written. With an understanding of the meaning behind the melodies, I found myself engaged from the start of his set to the end.
The dual stage set-up meant that we didn’t have to wait long for the Royal Australian Air Force band, Force 10. I expected a traditional brass sound as regimented as their uniforms, but was pleasantly surprised at their sense of fun. We happily sang along to big band classics like “World on a String” and “Under My Skin.” There’s a reason why these songs from the 20s and 30s are classics, and jazz fans young and old ate them up. The combination of booming drums, rich brass instruments, a tinkling piano and velvety smooth vocals was heavenly. Needless to say, Force 10 were an unexpected joy.
I’ve been a big fan of Australian soul legend Renee Geyer for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen countless shows over the years, but for some reason this set didn’t come quite up to par for me. Her sultry voice was in fine form, and she delivered hit after hit including “Heading in the Right Direction” and “Say I Love You.” But her snotty attitude took a little of the gloss off. Renee complained about the cameramen filming her, whining that she wasn’t dressed well enough. The cameramen complied to placate her diva behaviour, and the big screens were promptly switched off. I was close enough to the stage to see Renee, but I’m sure the people perched up the back of the vineyard didn’t appreciate her bitching. Renee could have taken a lesson from the music fans dancing freely in front of her; she really needed to lighten up and just have some fun!
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