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GET READY FOR THE BEST JAZZ FESTIVAL THIS SIDE OF NEW ORLEANS

Preparations are in full swing for this summer’s Upton Jazz Festival. Rebranded for 2018 with a bold, modern new look, this year’s festival is the 33rd to be held in the Worcestershire riverside town. And this year, it’s heading back to its roots with a host of new, intimate venues in the town centre.

Pubs, hotels, clubs and even resident river cruiser the Conway Castle will be transformed into jazz venues hosting the very best in Dixieland to boogie woogie, hot club to European, trad to swing and gypsy jazz. Artisan food and drink stalls and stands selling music memorabilia will spring up down by the riverside along with a lively fringe festival packed with up-and-coming bands and more established musicians. Hosted by the Swan Hotel, the fringe is supported by Worcestershire mental health charity The Nathan Tomkins Trust, and will be a showcase for talented buskers, would-be bands and more experienced performers.

And the festival will celebrate the 10th year of the Best of Young Jazz – the festival’s music education showcase which encourages the rising stars of the jazz world to perform with professional musicians in front of a live audience. Fifty gigs will take place over the four days of the festival, which takes place from June 21 to 24.

“This year’s festival is going to be better than ever,” said Musical Director Rachel Hayward.

“After feedback from our festival-goers in 2017, we took the decision to move it back into the town where it first began 33 years ago, to more intimate venues which make the most of Upton’s fantastic atmosphere.

“Several long-standing jazz festivals have fallen by the wayside in recent years, but this will give Upton a new lease of life. We can’t wait for June.”

Bands already booked include Upton favourites Bev Pegg’s Good Time Gang and Keith Nichols, Michael McQuaid and Spats Langham. But there are a host of new faces, ranging from the Basin Street Brawlers – London’s top hot jazz ensemble – to the Jake Leg Jug Band, with their 20s and 30s sound, and The Water Gypsies, usually found hanging out on their canal boat in Bath. Jazz Connection from Holland, Mama Shakers from Paris and James Evans from New Orleans all maintain the festival’s international flavour.

Early bird tickets are available until May 1, starting at just £25, and weekend camping is available. Ticket prices have been held at 2017 rates.

To book, visit www.uptonjazz.co.uk or call 01684 593254.

To get involved with the fringe festival, email info@uptonjazz.co.uk with a YouTube or Soundcloud clip of your music and information about the performer.

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