Vale Wangaratta Jazz Festival? Cancelled for a year or dead?

Only just heard this devastating, gut churning news of another blow to truly creative music but have to be honest and say I’m not surprised. The gap it creates in my cup day weekend schedule is nothing compared to the massive vacuum left in the opportunities it created for so many yearning creative and talented musicians.
At present the press release is saying it’s a 12 month hiatus but that’s not the mantra of the Wangaratta Mayor who doubts it will return.
If you’ve been to the festival you’ll understand my sorrow, for 27 years it presented a platform for innovative and traditional jazz in the unlikeliest of locations, rural Victoria, under the sure hand of the wonderful Adrian Jackson, whose contributions were belatedly recognised in the most recent national awards with an OAM no less. Adrian was the full time artistic director who nurtured and promoted and networked and sandbagged the festival from its beginning to near apparent end. No matter what was happening behind the scenes he always, without fail, presented fresh innovative and artistically successful programs which were the envy of the world and a jewel in Victoria’s artistic and creative fabric. He unearthed acts who are now household names in jazz before they were huge, like Brad Mehldau and Kurt Elling and EST, and brought numerous US and European greats to our shores and then regularly paired them with local acts to create some of the greatest live music I have heard.
And then 3 years ago the local board stabbed him in the back. He resigned before they sacked him and then threw his support behind the part timers they replaced him with.
The festival struggled on for a few years but most of us suspected this day was coming.
The current Jazz board were told they would be potentially liable for future losses. Some quit. The rest canned the festival.
So many stupid decisions driven by petty jealousies and pumped up egos. Reportedly lost 39k last year, wouldn’t cover the dry cleaning costs for a night at the heavily subsidised Opera but enough to kill off one of our great festivals.The locals will tear themselves apart now, the hotels and restaurants and wineries and local businesses that fed on the cup weekend crowds that flocked there will spit chips, and maybe the jazz phoenix will rise from the ashes. Hope so.
Meanwhile Wangaratta just lost a vital part of its identity.

The horror. The horror.

Leave the final word to Kurt.


Oh no, not good news.

I don’t really know how big it is, but Port Fairy Jazz Festival is still on every February.

It’s not for the lack of audience. Used to have to book accomodation a year ahead.
Best rural jazz festival in the country.
Have not been for a few years but some great memories and listening afterwards on ABC Jazz. ABC put a lot of money into recording the concerts and some hosting.
I particularly recall a concert with Paul Grabowski on piano and Enrico Rava on trumpet.
The blues concert segments on the banks of the Ovens were also enjoyable, involving a completely different audience ( including kids with parents) from those at the jazz concerts.
Federal Election coming up, McGowan retiring .Libs will be keen to get the seat back. Mirabella used to get them some funding.
Apparently the Council kicked in $100k last year, but kept it quiet.

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Fondly recall the same concert, a prime example of Jackson’s inspired pairings of overseas and local improvisers.

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Huge effort behind the scenes to get Rava a visa at that time. He may have had a few convictions chalked up. Best jazz trumpeter since Chet Baker, who I saw at at an impromptu memorial concert for Freddy Thomas (Rose Noir) which gathered a host of jazz musicians then in Europe, in a Brussels pub, downing oysters and Belgian beer - a very long time ago, but never forgotten.


Is there a shrug emoji??

Inverloch fkn has one.

You can hear & enjoy your trainwreck, how cool/stoned are we to resmemble the cacophony of an orchrestra tuning up and think it’s not only ok, but actually sounds good delusionals down here at Easter I think it is.

Normally I’d say stay the fk away you littering disrespectful , rude, invading clogging, cluttering prikks, but seeing I leave most Easters, and are spending it at Bells again this year, … go for your lives.


A neckbeard I vaguely know, who’s apparently a respected and award winning jazz musician, just got done for being a sex pest.

So you won’t be seeing him this year.

Grew up with it every year. Damn shame because it really was the premier jazz n blues fest in Aus there for a while…
From speaking to local performers, the organizers really screwed the pooch, main issues are the location/setup around the town has changed, ticket prices - venue tickets vs day/weekend passes and lastly amount of money the international acts (understandably) charge

A combination of things that could be easily remedied with a bit of work, but sadly doesnt look like it will happen…


Bit of a worry starting about the Port Fairy Folk Festival too, amid concerns that ticket sales are falling, and some regular attendees saying they won’t be be back next year.

Main reason is simply profiteering from rentals and campgrounds. People have reported 20% price increases year-to-year.

Another factor is the lack of availability of day passes. It’s a 3-day cost of $300.

Doesn’t stop people pestering Facebook pages asking for tickets for $240 or so…when they haven’t sold out from the ticket booth.

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Replaced by Hitch to the Sticks which is organised by Dallas Frasca! Someone stuffed up big time - was a great festival.

Wangg will be back next year, or so the Chairman of the new WJF committee has assured me.


Yep just the year off

Don’t really care about Wangs Jazz fest TBH, … but the Apollo Bay one falling off is a bluddy travesty.

I wish they’d get their shitt together down there & bring that one back. One of, if not the best Music Festival to attend ever.

At its height the ■■■■ fest was the best of its kind in this part of the world, no contest

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Yeah, … but it’s Jazz, … :smirk:

Inverloch has one too that’s growing every year. I can’t be sure how good it is now though because I’ve left town every w/end it’s been on for the past decade.

Yeah I said of it’s kind, I ain’t reppin that ■■■■

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Really glad to hear that. Got an email from Wangg a few months ago and starting snarling until I read they had appointed Eugene Ball as an Artistic Director. I figure that if they weren’t serious they wouldn’t appoint someone so respected in creative music to a major role. Also noted Zoe Hauptmann is still in the three person artistic director team which is a positive sign. My greatest fear is they try to turn it into a hybrid festival which pleases noone or a trad jazz and blues blowout that they hope attracts crowds but never will, but I doubt and hope those 2 would countenance such a sellout. The core business of Wangaratta was creative and improvisational music. That’s why it was successful because noone else did that. Not anywhere. Adrian Jackson made sure of that, and he ensured that it made headlines and attracted overseas acclaim, and attracted Government funding, and inspired young creative artists, and still had a wonderful trad based program at the wonderful Pinsent Hotel and an innovative Blues Stage. Used to head to the Pinsent for an early morning ale and some great old time stuff and then head for the contemporary stuff around 1pm, a sort of musical palate cleanser.
Adrian Jackson created the festival and nurtured and maintained it for a quarter of a century and in so doing he invigorated the cultural status of Wangaratta. And then the committee stabbed Jackson in the back.
I don’t care about the economic modelling, I just want to see a commitment to a festival that wears its Art on its sleeve.
Christ, I miss it . Cup day weekend to me means musical improvisation, screw the TAB.