Wednesday, 5 January 2022

2021 highlights - Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues


                                                            Matt Evans

It has been a strange year indeed given Covid and all its restrictions and misery!

I guess our first major highlight is that we survived it all and are still going - putting on "live" jazz gigs with enthusiasm. Post Covid we have had some great concerts - Dennis Rollins and Gwilym Simcock are just two. We have early next year the Fergus McCreadie Trio coming in February and the Colin Steele Quartet in March.

Second, though, not all of us survived and as an organisation run entirely on volunteers we lost one of our best - Matt Evans - the event organiser at our major venue The Grand, Clitheroe. Matt died at 47 leaving a huge gap in our resources. 800 people attended his funeral and wake which is a testament to just how special Matt was and how much he will be missed. Matt made a giant footprint in life and a huge contribution to bringing jazz and the Arts to the Ribble Valley . He will be sorely missed by us all.

Third, our biggest highlight has to be the Online Festival we put on in early May. It was a lot of work but it was well worth it. We were able to stream 6 live bands into people's front rooms as well as provide endless links to jazz all over the world. Kyla Brox gave a wonderful concert - the highlight of which was bringing her dad and Blues legend, Victor, onto the stage. Here is that moment on YouTube -

Finally, we did get to do some of what we like to do best and put music out into the community. A good memory is the Pancake Steel band playing our market place one very rainy August afternoon. They played under a gazebo but their leader left it open. Every now and again he had to empty his pan drum. Brave playing given the conditions. Best memory - a bunch of youngsters joining in enthusiastically break-dancing and getting soaking wet

Phil Lee


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