Back in June a good friend and fellow jazzer emailed me about the possibility of launching a new “trad jazz festival … similar to Seaside Shuffle” in his area. He told me a well known jazz musician was interested in being involved but went on to say he was “not sure about the best way to ensure this works without being left out of pocket”.
Most jazz festivals in the UK have been running for years and are well established and well attended. So far as I am aware, Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle, launched just three years ago, is the very latest festival launched in the UK – way down in the far south east corner of the country.
So I intend this final post in the sequence of features on the July, 2013, Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle Festival, to serve as a tribute to the festival organisers and as a brief summation of Seaside Shuffle’s success to date which might help with indicators on how to go about launching other new “trad jazz” festivals.
A Dream Comes True
Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle is the brainchild of local jazz singer, Betty Renz. For years Betty has sung with bands in South East England, from Whitstable to Dover and from Ramsgate to Southampton. And for years she dreamed of a festival on The Isle of Thanet. Then four years ago she decided the time had come to bring her dreams to fruition and gathered together a small group of friends to assist her.
Even though based in Hertfordshire, my wife and I helped with copy, Jazz Guide ads, leaflets, posters and promotional material. I was only too pleased as my teenage years were spent in East Kent – my early jazz stomping ground.
A Dedicated Organising Committee
But the key to the success of The Shuffle wasn’t nearly so much due to what my wife and I did but due to the dedication of the team Betty gathered around her in Ramsgate to drive the project forward.
After a wonderfully successful launch in 2011, having seen her dream come to fruition, Betty withdrew from the front line for health reasons. Now, in the Shuffle’s third year, a lean Organising Committee is 100 percent dedicated to both the annual festival and to organising monthly gigs at The Small Boat Owners Club in Ramsgate.
But as you can imagine, in these difficult times it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Successful representations were made to Ramsgate Town Council for funding but not without diplomatic persuasion. After all, what is traditional jazz these days! But the Committee were able to persuade the Council that the Festival would bring more visitors to the seaside resort. And a band performing on the harbour esplanade free of charge as a thank you to the Council helped.
Despite these early teething troubles Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle went from strength to strength and plans were made for monthly gigs and of course a 2012 festival.
(Photos © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz)
Peter M Butler
Editor and Owner of Jazz&Jazz
Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle Festival 2013 Featured:
Trefor Williams’ Select Six Thrill Ramsgate Seaside Shufflers with “A Night in New Orleans” http://www.jazzandjazz.com/?p=5276
Seaside Shuffle Spectacular with Red Hot & Blue
Gambit Jazzmen Given A Warm Welcome Back to Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle
Vocalion Mesmerise Fans on a Balmy Seaside Shuffle Festival Afternoon
Seaside Shuffle Festival Fans Spellbound by Frog Island Jazz Band’s Unique Repertoire http://www.jazzandjazz.com/?p=5543