Birmingham jazz festival goes ahead later this month

Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival continues despite pandemic.

Jazz lovers will enjoy some long-awaited toe-tapping as the Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival unveils its programme of live shows taking place later this month.

The 36th annual festival will be held from Friday 16th to Sunday 25th October at a variety of venues in and around Birmingham, having been postponed from July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And, appropriately, the jazz and blues extravaganza will comprise 36 events across the ten days of the festival. All singers and musicians will perform behind a perspex screen separating them from the live audiences, to comply with the government’s Covid-19 guidelines,

Some of the UK’s finest musicians will be performing alongside top local talent. But music fans will also be delighted to hear that the bawdy, good time blues of The Jim Dandies from Bassano del Grappa in Italy will be returning to the festival after proving to be one of last year’s hits.

As well as live performances there will also be a variety of other events, including a record session and jazz film show, while, in an unusual move, shows will be streamed live from West Bromwich Central and Wednesbury Libraries.

The Shufflepack will also be live streaming a performance from deep in The Chilterns to festival-goers sat in the comfort of the Brasshouse and the Bull’s Head pubs on Westside.

Festival director Jim Simpson said: “This is the third time this year we have constructed the festival. The July event, with more than 200 programmes planned, was floored by the virus. We then delivered a ten-day virtual festival over the dates originally planned for the annual event, and here we are with what promises to be a most welcome celebration of some great music.

“We’ve encountered a bunch of delays and diversions but we’re going to press ahead fully in the expectation of a great event.”

Other venues hosting festival shows range from the Birmingham Rag Market and Botanical Gardens to the Velvet Music Rooms and Water’s Edge Bandstand. Further afield, jazz fans can see performances at The Village, Moseley, and the Gracechurch Shopping Centre in Sutton Coldfield.

The jazz festival is part-funded by Westside Business Improvement District. Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said: “We’re thrilled and proud that the jazz festival – with all the necessary safety measures – is finally going ahead. This will bring some extra spirit to Westside and other areas that will businesses with their efforts to continue emerging safely from COVID-19.”

The full festival programme can be viewed here or by visiting the festival website.