Held at one of the UK’s finest Elizabethan stately homes, this year over 25 bands provide a weekend of jazz and blues from June 30th to July 2nd.
Enjoy the ambience of the main stage whilst sat on the manicured lawn, marvel at the beautiful carvings and pictures while listening to acoustic jazz and blues in the Great Hall and, late at night, when the lights come on, retreat to the bar tent for more music until it’s time for bed.
Described as ‘One of the Top 15 Festivals for the Over 50’s’ by the Daily Telegraph, don’t let that accolade put you off if you are under 50! Although the music is the main attraction for festival-goers, it’s the whole package which makes this such a great experience. Civilised camping with hot showers in the adjacent park field, children’s entertainment, local ale, the famous tea and cake stall, ice cream and other delicious food outlets along with Burton Agnes’ own features - the walled garden, giant games, maze, woodland walk, shops, café and the house itself - creates a truly unique venue and sophisticated festival.
But this year, as you would expect for a 10th anniversary, there is something special about the music. Along with local and national stars, there are four bands from Saint Lucia plus Caribbean food and rum cocktails and an exhibition of St Lucian artists’ work. Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues is now linked with the internationally-acclaimed Saint Lucia Jazz Festival.
Festival organiser Simon Cunliffe-Lister said: “Through the UK Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, I was able to forge a relationship with Saint Lucia. The island was looking to showcase its diverse culture in the UK. I travelled there to audition bands, meet chefs and artists with the intention of bringing them to Burton Agnes for the festival. The four bands chosen are Dynamix, a saxophone-led quartet; soulful and sophisticated singer Chrycee; Claudia Edward, a singer-songwriter who is a local household name and jazz guitarist Rupert Lay with his quartet which includes Caribbean steel drums. Along with the food and drink, if we get the right weather, you could imagine you are in the Caribbean! It’s exciting to book international stars and attract festival-goers from far and wide, but I’m equally proud to promote the best of local food, drink and music. Field and Forage, who provide the food, graze their cattle on our park field and casks of award-winning Wold Top Ale come direct from the brewery 5 miles away; Tom Mellor, the Wold Top owner, and I often play at the festival together on guitar and saxophone. Talented local musicians grace the various stages in association with Strada Music Agency which is headquartered in nearby North Dalton and local jazz students, some as young as five years of age perform in the Great Hall. I always delight in seeing this all knit together to create a unique festival that celebrates and benefits our region. I wear many hats, including Artistic Director, Festival Programmer and Chooser of Hall Acts! The late night acts are chosen in association with Strada, which has deep knowledge pf the local music scene.”
Other artists performing include Claire Martin OBE with Ray Gelato; New York Brass Band; Pat McCarthy Quartet with Shannon Riley; Kaz Hawkins; Jamie Brownfield Quartet, Portmanteau; Firebird and Mississippi-born Lisa Mills. Local artists include Stillhouse; Phil Simpson and Jessica Lawson; The Alligators and Half-deaf Clatch. The festival plays out at Sunday tea-time with Ben Beattie’s After Midnight Band featuring Simon Cunliffe-Lister himself on sax.
The campsite opens at 3pm on Friday 30th June (first act on at 6pm) and remains open until Monday at noon for people wanting to enjoy the relaxation of the surrounding area. Tickets for the festival and camping are available in advance from www. burtonagnes.com/Jazz_Festival/ Tickets_and_Prices.html, by telephone 01262 490324, at Burton Agnes Hall courtyard shops or on the gate. Parking is free.