Walking past the BBC Concert Orchestra’s gigantic touring bus and hearing the sounds of the Guy Barker Orchestra soundcheck coming from the Big Top ahead of tonight’s show, the vibe at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival is electric. I was greeted by a shiny new press pass, dubbing me as freelance, and told I can access the backstage area between concerts, making me feel more like a celebrity than press (talking of celebrities, Jamie Cullum casually walked past me as I’m sat here in the Festival Bar writing this!). More and more people are coming in to discover the central area of the festival between the big top and the free stage. Here you can find the Jazz Kitchen (full scale restaurant), the Cinema Tent and the Lounge, a cool place to hang out and enjoy a coffee next to the free stage, amongst a whole host of other market, music and food stalls. Some festival goers are lounging on the enormous bean bags in the sunshine, whilst others have brought their families along too. Cheltenham seems like a very family friendly place, which I’m all for since it means introducing children to creative live music at an early age. This central area is a great hub and useful place to meet, planning what you want to watch during the course of the day, grabbing some food and just generally relaxing; hopefully it won’t rain this year!
Check out our 2013 Jazz Festival Gallery for more pictures
I’m looking forward to enjoying an evening in the sun and getting to know the site. I’ll be blogging about the Rich O’Brien Band on the free stage in a few hours, then Friday Night is Music Night in the Big Top tonight. Afterwards, as there is every year, there will be a jam session hosted by students of Birmingham Conservatoire at the Hotel du Vin, from 10.30pm. I’ll heading down later (I’m the small guy with the double bass) and everyone, musicians and non-musicians are welcome to come along to watch & play. Anyway, I’m off to grab some food and a pint ahead of the first concert, see you later!
James Banner is a Midlands-born bassist currently in his 3rd year at Birmingham Conservatoire, studying Jazz Double Bass.