Since 1981, the town of Merimbula (on the south coast of NSW) hosts the annual Merimbula Jazz Festival over the June long weekend. The choir that I sing with (Rhythm Syndicate, based in Canberra) had 3 gigs over the long weekend, so I got a great chance to experience the music festival and see the town for the first time. I had a great time at the Merimbula Jazz Festival. From mid morning to about 11pm at night, there was music non-stop for the entire duration of the festival at all 6 official MJF venues, and also performances around the town- on the street, in restaurants, in churches- that weren't part of the official program. The ordinarily sleepy town was alive with jazz, blues, funk, and gospel.The local Merimbula buses get converted into a shuttle bus for people getting from venue to venue during the festival, and the displayed route on the front of the bus is renamed 'jazz bus'. So cool.
I enjoyed the unofficial performances more generally because they were in nicer spaces for enjoying music; the official program was hosted in rather depressing auditoriums/halls in RSL clubs, decorated woefully with clusters of ribboned balloons- which killed the vibe a little bit and wasn't well suited to jazz performance in general. I hope they change that.
Apart from my dislike for the official performance spaces, I found the festival really fun. There are some pretty stellar acts at the festival, and I am definitely going back for more next year!
Merimbula also boasts beautiful beaches and spectacular seafood- there's a great restaurant/oyster farm in Merimbula that I'll tell you about in the next blog post.
Canberra-based jazz band In 2 Deep featuring Mike Dooley on piano and Rachel Thorne on vocals.