Town festival gets Jubilee makeover
A POPULAR music festival will return this weekend with a new name and a more diverse line-up.
Newcastle Jazz and Blues Festival has been re-branded the Jubilee Music Festival this year to link in with the countrywide Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The event will also include a more varied range of performers than before in a bid to broaden its appeal beyond jazz and blues fans.
With 150 acts set to perform across 15 venues over the long weekend, the festival is set to be the biggest since the event was launched six years ago.
Licensees in Newcastle have given a mixed reaction to the festival's revamp, which is likely to be a permanent change in direction.
Dan Maddox, licensee at Ikon, believes the festival needs to offer something to everyone if its success is to be maintained.
He said: "I think it was a good idea to include more musical genres in the festival. Not everyone likes jazz and blues, and so this will hopefully attract more people to come.
"I believe the festival will continue, even though the funding from the council has been cut, as it gives a welcome boost to licensees in the town.
"I'd even like to see it expanded to include an outdoor stage, maybe outside the Guildhall. That will mean shops in the town will benefit, as well as the public houses."
But Matt Taylor, landlord of the Full Moon and councillor for Town ward, was more sceptical, fearing the re-branding could leave some punters confused.
He said: "To be honest, I had my doubts about changing the name for the festival. It's been very successful as Newcastle Jazz and Blues Festival, and I thought there was a danger people would not know it was the same event. It was never really limited to just jazz and blues anyway.
"But changing it appears to have widened the interest to other venues, and in terms of the number of performances, it should be the biggest festival yet.
"I have been quite disappointed with the amount of advertising this year though. This is the third year we've been involved and the amount of money for advertising has gone down every year."
Bands will be performing across the town centre from Saturday afternoon to Tuesday evening.
Anticipated highlights include Soul Patrol at the Rigger on Saturday, the Climax Blues Band on Monday at the Old Brown Jug, and the London-based Hackney Colliery Band who will be performing at Hector Garcia's on Monday.
Newcastle Borough Council cut its support for the festival from £20,000 to £10,000 last year, with funding now largely the responsibility of licensees.
Councillor Elsie Bates, cabinet member for culture and leisure, said the changes to the event would build on its past success.
She said: "The Jazz and Blues Festival has been a huge success for the past six years, boosting the local economy by bringing in thousands of visitors into Newcastle town centre.
"The festival has put the borough firmly on the map as a premier live music destination. But we can't keep doing what we've always done – now is the perfect time to look at ways of building on that. By opening up the genres of music on offer, we hope to widen the festival's appeal.
"The borough council has been a key player in the festival and continues to support licensees to ensure it's a success."
For more information about venues and artists, visit http://www.jubileemusicfestival.co.uk/