Just in case anyone’s wondering, the Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival is going ahead from tonight, Friday 16 October.
Despite live music currently caught between the pincers of a global pandemic and an economic recession, the festival is making a determined but very COVID-safe stand to perform through to 25 October.
What will be the 36th annual festival will bring its nearly entirely free programme of live jazz and blues to the bars, squares, shopping centres and libraries of Birmingham and Sandwell.
The festival kicks off tonight with the Bruce Adams Quartet with Dave Newton performing at the Velvet Music Rooms on Broad Street from 6pm.
This is just one of 34 events in an extravaganza from some of UK’s finest musicians alongside local talent, plus the treat of some good time blues from The Jim Dandies from Bassano del Grappa, in Italy.
All venues, musicians and festival staff will be strictly adhering to the government’s COVID-19 guidance, with singers, brass and wind players having PVC screens between them and the audience.
And for the first time ever, audiences will be discouraged from dancing, with strict social distancing and mask-wearing mandatory throughout.
Festival director Jim Simpson said: “We’ve encountered a bunch of delays and diversions but we’ve relished the challenge of keeping music live in these most unusual circumstances.
“This promises to be a most welcome celebration of some great music. Why? Because it’s what we do!” The full festival programme can be viewed at www.birminghamjazzfestival.com.
By Steve Dyson