Bopping and Bites at the Clarence Jazz Festival
by Lily Whiting
The Clarence Jazz Festival is back in February – a celebration of music, arts and food on the Eastern Shore. A jam-packed five day itinerary will move throughout different locations from Risdon Cove through to Kangaroo Bay, brimming with local food vendors and a collection of local and world class musicians. Festival Director, Stevie McEntree has been working on bringing a diverse (and mostly Tasmanian!) musical line-up to Clarence.
What can festival goers expect from the musical offering this year? Jazz is a really diverse and broad reaching genre of music and this year’s program offers festival goers a rich representation of many of these styles. Expect everything from classic traditional jazz, swinging standards, groundbreaking original work, Latin inspired jazz, groovy funk and blues, Afrobeat and East African Music, Indian fusion, and much more! We have 35 local acts so there is plenty of Tassie talent gracing the stages with five very special interstate acts.
What do you keep in mind when curating performances for a five day event? Along with ensuring a diverse range of genres and styles, we’re really proud to present the most gender and culturally diverse program in the festival’s history. It’s important to ensure that the diversity of our audience is reflected on our stages. We’re committed to providing our local and interstate musicians with really special (and well funded!) performance opportunities, with a commitment to excellent production values. We’re also very proud to provide opportunities through our scholarships and emerging programs and to support the development of new work and collaborations.
The festival is also collaborating with the lutruwita/Tasmanian First Nations community, presenting our opening event at piyura kitina/Risdon Cove and funding the development of new work with support from Festivals Australia. We are working with as many locals as we can to present an immersive festival experience for all the senses
Food and beverage curator Rhys Hannan (formerly chef and owner of Small Fry) is bringing together wineries, distilleries, small-scale farming, stone fruit and shellfish industries that call the Clarence, Coal River Valley and surrounding areas home. “The festival will feature about 12 vendors from the Clarence local area and southern Tasmania over the course of the five days and also include special events by Palawa Kipli and Prospect House,” says Rhys. “The great thing about this festival is that with its diverse range of events, we can tailor the offering to each event.” As a former restaurateur and now market manager of Harvest Market in Launceston, Rhys has had some weight on his shoulders to ensure the event fills the expectations of Tasmanian summer goers. “Locals and guests of Tasmania alike expect a high-quality and local food offering, and delivering that for Clarence Jazz Festival is a very rewarding role.”