Its festival time again and whist not playing at Download or Isle of Wight I am lucky enough to be involved in some terrific events.
I played at Bradford Mela this weekend. The Mela is a huge event held over two days in a park in Bradford. It has a number of stages and caters for pretty much every taste. The Saturday was a bit of a rush as I was also playing in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar so I played a duo set with bass player Jenni Molloy between twelve and one and then dashed off to do a Matinee performance with the show. The Sunday was better as I was able stay and experience the festival between my performances.
My first show was 12.45 on the Kiwi stage, a solo spot this time. I love these events as most of the concerts I play attract people who already have a good idea of what I do, the joy of an event like this is people can just be walking past and stop to listen to some guitar playing without having any preconceived notion of what it is they are listening to. Jazz covers such a broad variety of styles yet many people have their own idea of what jazz is be it bowler hats, clarinets and banjos or four guys blowing seemingly random and unconnected noises. Sometimes a good way of putting people off coming to a concert is to include the word jazz in it yet when people do listen they do enjoy it. I’ve heard many times the sentence “I don’t like jazz but I like what you do” … that would be jazz then.
After my first concert of the day it was time to explore. As well as a number of music stages there were street performers, acrobats and food! So much food it was difficult to know where to start so I started with vegetable pakora from one of the many stands, delicious. A quick stop at artists’ liaison where I bumped into an old friend studio owner Si who was busy recording some performing chickens (men dressed as chickens). I ended up doing a voice over for the chicken’s video and then it was time for more exploring and food. I have to say that I had what has to be one of the nicest curries I’ve ever eaten all for a meager Â£5 and they threw in a large bag of uncooked rice as an incentive, lovely. Encouraged by my luck with the curry I was somehow persuaded to try falooda. Falooda is a drink from South Asia and was in this case vermicelli with strawberry milkshake poured on top with a dollop of ice cream and this rather unusual stuff which when I asked what it was as it was as it was been made was told “good question, it looks like frogspawn but it tastes nice” I have since learned that it was tapioca seeds. I have to say that it was probably the most unusual drink I’ve had and was a little like sucking little worms up a straw. After my falooda experience I was asked to do a rather impromptu interview for BCB radio, I mention that I’d had falooda and the interviewer told me he loved it so it is obviously an acquired taste.
There were some really good bands on, from Asian Megastars to folk bands, heavy metal and pop. After watching a few it was time for my next performance so I made my way back to the Kiwi stage just as the heavens opened. The Kiwi stage was covered and was designed to look like a large Bedouin tent, it was packed. I know some of the people there were trying to get out of the rain but everyone seemed to enjoy what I did and you never know it might actively encourage people that had never heard jazz before to seek out and listen to other jazz musicians.
Wigan Jazz Festival next so if you fancy listening to some top players get yourself to Wigan, it runs from July 10th to July 17th. I’m performing with Jenni Molloy on July 11th followed by Chris Barber’s band, should be a great night, although sadly no falooda. Might have to give Ian Darrington a ring and demand it for my rider.