JAZZ Jurassica, the four-day jazz and blues weekender, kicks off in Lyme Regis tonight (Friday) with a bumper programme.
This year, festival organisers promise an ambitious roster of gospel, blues, brass, soul and swing. Headliners include Kick Ass Brass, a funky brass supergroup; Laurence Jones, dubbed the new Eric Clapton; and Powerhouse Gospel Choir, a gutsy female gospel choir.
Alongside, Equinor Big Band, a 23-piece band from Norway, celebrate the king of swing, Duke Ellington, plus festival favourites Matt Carter and Leigh Coleman put Stevie Wonder in the spotlight.
Festival organiser Julie Sheppard said: “You can’t have a jazz festival without brass so we thought we’d really go for it. Kick Ass Brass is a big banging funky brass band with pounding soul classics at its heart. A really special show for our opening night.”
The blues guitarist, Laurence Jones, returns to Lyme Regis with a new band in tow, a clutch of new recordings and an electrifying live performance which makes him the “must see” act on the British blues circuit.
Powerhouse Gospel Choir are expected to live up to their name, setting pulses racing and spirits soaring with their gutsy renditions of traditional and contemporary secular songs.
“The diverse mix of music is deliberate,” said Julie.
“We aim to attract dedicated jazzers but also those who would never consider going to a festival with ‘jazz’ in the title. We’re trying to break down a few musical barriers.”
The festival will include 40 live acts over the weekend, many involving young local musicians, alongside the on-gong collaboration with B Sharp’s Busking Festival on Saturday.
Many events are free on the seafront and in venues around the town. The festival is very much part of the community with all the events taking place in and around the town.
Apart from the Marine Theatre, some of the town’s hotels, restaurants and pubs will also be hosting events including SWIM, The Nag’s Head, The Mariners Hotel and the iconic Royal Lion Hotel in the high street.
With an unrivalled seaside setting, the organisers want the town to become a musical destination for residents and visitors at the start of the school half-term holiday.
Julie added: “Some events have already sold out and tickets are selling fast which shows the festival’s growing popularity. “As a small independent festival, in an iconic location, we intend to be loud and proud. Please come and join us.”
Jazz Jurassica kicks off today (Friday, May 24) and will continue until Monday, May 27.
More information and tickets are available on the website www.jazzjurassica.co.uk or from Lyme Regis TIC on 01297 442138.