Festival Forensics: Does Fest Jazz Have The Answers?


In his 22nd August Jazz North West News Update, Fred Burnet commented: “Talking of Jazz Festivals, FestJazz organiser Trevor Stent has written on Jazz&Jazz: “All festival organisers moan about money, and we are no exception. However, our village has only 3,600 inhabitants, is situated in one of the poorest areas of Brittany and yet gives us a lot of help. They give us a grant of 6,000€ per year, they provide all the fencing and electrical generators, supply the skilled work force for two weeks to prepare the festival site and lend us a lorry from the commune for a week. We would be really, really interested to know how this compares with help from councils in the UK. More? Less? How does it compare with Bude, Swanage, Bute, Keswick, Upton etc etc??”


Châteauneuf-du-Faou Mayor Jean-Pierre Roland welcomes festival goers in French and Spanish. He was followed by Fest Jazz President, Angelina, welcoming them in the Breton language and by Trevor speaking in English.

Failure to Attract a Younger Age Group
More and more voices are being raised about the parlous state of jazz festivals in the UK. Only days ago, Roger Marshall, writing in the Dove Jazz Club Bugle, announced that The Dove Jazz & Beer Festival is to come to an end due to lack of support and sponsorship: “Our failure to attract a younger age group of people to attend our promotions and take an interest in our music means that there are no willing youthful hands reaching out to grasp the baton safely and take it through the next stage. This single factor has by far held the greatest sway in us reaching our decision. So, having thought about and considered all aspects very carefully, it’s with a heavy heart that we have decided that the 2016 Festival will be our last.” (Note: Dove jazz Club will, however, continue as normal).

Nor is Dove alone in the UK. For instance doubts are also being raised about Keswick.


The Editorial in the August issue of Just Jazz Magazine lamented that: “The penny pinching attitude is not going to rejuvenate the beleaguered situation. For new faces, new audiences and new bands, especially the younger bands, we have to put our hands in our pockets.”

And the leader of a top rate UK band recently emailed me: “It’s tough getting work for the band, especially as we’re busy doing all sorts of different projects.”

Involving Young People: Does Fest Jazz Have The Answers?
Trevor Stent emailed me: “I’ve been thinking about how to spread the word about the young management team at Fest Jazz. Partly to “show off” the festival obviously but also because I firmly believe that our methods are the only way to involve young people in the music… and save it. For those on Facebook, we’ve published an article which you can see at: www.facebook.com/festjazz. The idea is to show the Fest Jazz 2016 Team with plenty of young faces.
Festival Présidente, Angelina Beauvir

Festival Présidente, Angelina Beauvir

Above all, Trevor pinpoints the involvement of young people in the organisation of the festival each year from September onwards as key to Fest Jazz’s success in attracting increasing numbers of younger fans.

In keeping with this, Fest Jazz aims for:

  • A variety of music, not wall to wall classic jazz but other styles which perhaps many readers of Just Jazz might enjoy more than they think they would. (Please note Jim McIntosh’s very pertinent comments at the foot of this post).
  • Fewer bands than at many other traditional jazz festivals and fewer on site venues. For a fabulous atmosphere (much appreciated by everybody, especially the young) it’s better to have 500 in each venue than 10 venues each with just 50 fans in the audience.
  • Modern, up-to-the minute graphics and communication. Trevor asks “Why do so many UK jazz posters display pictures of elderly, whiskered sousaphone players?  Or elderly ladies with umbrellas? As much as I like and admire such musicians and fans, we’ve got to accept that they simply won’t help in attracting young people.”
  • Pulling out all the stops to attract young Lindy Hop dancers.
  • Involving young people to front the festival by welcoming and presenting the groups on stage, by serving at the bars, and even talking to the press/radio/TV about the festival.
  • Use modern stage and lighting techniques to enhance the performance of the musicians.
  • Ensure free food and drinks for the musicians and volunteers during the festival weekend. In France that’s expected and it helps to create a convivial atmosphere between the groups and the volunteers (ask Dorine de Wit and Ben Holder!)
  • Another reason for Fest Jazz’s year on year success is undoubtedly the involvement from the outset of Festival Organiser Trevor Stent’s own band, Good Time Jazz. Experienced, well-travelled musicians who “know what works”.
The Fest Jazz Team

The Fest Jazz Team


Vendredi Soir (Friday Evening)

Vendredi Soir (Friday Evening)


Louis Prima Forever

Jazz&Jazz Fest Jazz YouTubes

Since the Festival ended on 31st July, I have published a series of posts featuring Jazz&Jazz YouTubes which Ginny and I filmed over the weekend capturing the full on festival atmosphere. The links to the posts are listed below. But so full on was the activity that regrettably we missed filming a couple of bands and in particular the wonderful Louis Prima Forever. Jean d’Audignac came to the rescue with his very special YouTube Feature highlighting clips from the entire festival weekend:


“Trevors festival is very refreshing indeed and the fact that the audience is open to the music holds the key. I’m afraid jazz in the UK, the older stuff which I love, is a matter of being “historical” and not “topical” and it will die and become the former. Most of the musicians who love this music rant on about the older music and know nothing of todays generation and vice versa. Trevor said I’d be back again at some point – let’s hope it’s not too much of a wait!” Sean Moyses.

“I hope Trevor Stent gets the credit he deserves for organising what is obviously a very successful Fest Jazz . Well done Trevor and his Chateauneuf team.” Pamela Turner.

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

(Photos & YouTubes © Fest Jazz & Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz)

Jazz&Jazz Fest Jazz Feature Links

Fest Jazz 2016 – A Blue Print For Jazz Festivals

Psychedelic Lighting at Fest Jazz 2016

La Municipalité Welcomes Fest Jazz Fans to Châteauneuf-du-Faou

The Ben Holder Quartet Takes Fest Jazz By Storm

Dizzy Birds Mesmerise Fest Jazz Fans

Hawaiian Ukulele Star Taimane Gardner Enthrals Fest Jazz Fans

Fest Jazz 2016 Presents “Panique sur le Manche”: Vive la Jeunesse en le Jazz!

Fest Jazz Hosts Joan Chamorro’s Sant Andreu Jazz Masterclass – Includes Jazz&Jazz YouTubes

Fest Jazz, 2016, Features “Les Fanflures”

Fest Jazz Presents The Usual Suspects with “Mon Hôte” on Bass!

Old Chaps? … Anything But! And They Love Paris – Plus Fest Jazz!

Malo Mazurié Makes a Welcome Return to Fest Jazz, Châteauneuf-du-Faou

La Section Rythmique at Fest Jazz 2016: “I Cover The Waterfront”

Mamma DID Allow “The New Bread Winners” to Gig at Fest Jazz!

Fest Jazz Presents The Motis/Chamorro Quintet: “He’s Funny That Way”

Fest Jazz 2016 Grand Finalé Starring Joan Chamorro’s Sant Andreu Jazz Band

Fest Jazz Fans Packed the Marquee for Trevor Stent’s Good Time Jazz Band …

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  1. Jim McIntosh says:

    The main reason Dove Holes Festival finished was apparently the lack of younger people helping to run it. The same with Swanage, where there has always been a proportion of younger fans loving the music. How would Fest Jazz do without all this help? Hats off to Trevor for the gargantuan amount of work in fixing it all up. And obviously for the eclectic mix of music. But would this actually work in the UK? I am not sure. Maybe someone could give it a try, but first they must get grant of 6,000€ per year, all the fencing and electrical generators, the skilled work force for two weeks to prepare the festival site and the loan of a lorry from the commune for a week.

  2. Peter Butler says:

    Jim, I take your points, but at this stage what more can I say than Trevor, a UK Jazzer, has worked hard and pulled out all the stops out to get this far. And has brought publicity and rewards to far flung Châteauneuf as a result. Surely there is a lesson in this, if only UK Jazz Festivals have the wit to learn it, or perish in the process. Else all could be lost – and I didn’t get back into jazz promo for that to happen. So like Trevor, I’ll keep plugging at it. I don’t have an instantaneous magic wand but I’ll not give up – not just yet anyway. Then again, perhaps we simply don’t have enlightened community venues / local authorities such as Châteauneuf. Tell you what, I voted Brexit but on the jazz front, this makes me wonder!!! Do we just throw in the towel and give up? One more point – the eclectic mix of music. If our Trad Fans want their music to survive, they’ve got to give and take somewhat. After all, New Orleans was well represented at Fest Jazz.

  3. Jim McIntosh says:

    Good morning Peter
    The eclectic mix of music is great. One of the best festivals ever was (and maybe still is – I haven’t been for 10 years) on a small Danish Island called Tunø. Did it with Phil Mason several times. New Orleans style jazz, Rock and Roll, Folk, Mainstream, Modern (ish) jazz. A wonderful weekend, but the Danes were/are more acceptable to all styles of music, obviously very much including Traditional jazz. I particularly remember Roy Williams taking the stage with about 10 ten sax players in a ‘Battle of the saxes’ and blowing them all away. The youngsters loved it! It would be absolutely wonderful if festivals in the UK could receive such help from the local councils or whatever, but I cannot imagine it. Remember the film ‘It’s Trad Dad’? Even in those far off days, the town council tried to stop it, let alone help. Trevor has a great thing going in Brittany, but it seems to me that one of the main reasons for its success is his relentless enthusiasm, and driving force. Still doing it since the Blue Mags days, and still running a good band to boot! Well done Monsieur Stent!

  4. Jim McIntosh says:

    Can’t add anything more at the moment. Going off on a strange thing (called a holiday) in about an hour. No computers, no banjo – I may have a nervous breakdown!!

  5. Peter Butler says:

    These are excellent points, Jim. I’ll make sure Trevor reads them. He has come back to me with a few more points to add to the post so take another look at it when you are back from your hols. (No mini violin either???).

  6. Carole Dane says:

    We live in Brittany, and our first visit to Jazz Fest a few years back? Was wonderful, there was a main stage and we sat on a hill overlooking it dancers in front of stage. A food area with covered areas, 3 ladies singing and a wonderful guitar player. Loads of vintage cars ,food and craft stalls, something for everybody. For a few years we didn’t go. The last two years have been disappointing for me and this year I didn’t hear anything I liked and went over the other side of the river to sit. There was ally of steep walking to do on gravel and rough ground. I’m not coming again , my hubbie might, wish we could turn the clock back to earlier times, I’m sure it will continue to be a great success , love your band,
    Carole Dane

  7. Peter Butler says:

    That’s sad, Carole. I believe you’ve not been so well recently. Could this have made it difficult for you getting to the various venues? Which of the wide variety of bands in particular didn’t you like? Or was it just getting about the hilly inclines that troubled you? Pleased to hear you wish Fest Jazz to continue to be a great success.

  8. Trevor Stent says:

    We welcome all feed back, positive and negative but I can’t really imagine there wasn’t one band out of 20 on offer that you didn’t like, Carole? The Sant Andreu Jazz Band??? The Dizzy Birds?? Ben Holder??. There was a (very successful) food village with a covered eating area. A lot of steep (?) walking? Not true at all: There is one, slope to the main site and six steps to Stage 3. For those with reduced mobility there is an advertised and level rear entrance to both stages. for those who wished to use it.. Strange……

  9. Norm888 says:

    How does the saying go ? ‘ You can please some people all of the time, please all people some of the time, but you can never please all the people all of the time ‘. I feel for poor Carole, as surely there is another underlying problem there ! Having attended Fest Jazz the last three times, my wife and I have enjoyed the mix of music genres. Great to enjoy the sessions we have known so well, and then the surprises when we have experienced something we were not sure about. For example the ‘Dead Brothers’ (Switzerland) were not our ‘our cup of tea’, but it pleased us to see the younger crowd loved them to bits. It is this mix of bands that attracts such a wide age group that makes Fest Jazz the fantastic festival it undoubtedly is. Poor Carole seems to be a very ‘odd one out’ here ! Perhaps I am an odd one out as well ( I will be 82 when I attend next year ) I love our old original classic jazz style, but I can grasp how the younger excellent musicians are ‘bending it’ and, my, how the 20/30 age group are swing dancing to it all. Watching them is an extra not listed in the festival programme ! Trouble getting around the venue ? OK, so there is one gravel slope where a little care needs to be taken, but other than that the venue is ‘easy peasy’. In any case, the organising teams’ young volunteers are there willing and able to assist anyone, and they all carry the most amazing friendly smiles.
    Norm888 Remember – ‘Always look on the bright side of Life’ de da de da de da

  10. Phil Sch... says:

    I can vouch for the successful formula which is Fest Jazz. This year was our third year in succession and we always find the atmosphere relaxed and with a wide spread of musical talent. I particularly like the way the Fest has given a platform to young jazz musicians from as far afield as New Orleans, Berlin and Toulouse, all of whom are giving their fresh interpretations of the tunes we love and in some cases ones we didn’t know existed. The venue on the banks of the river is sublime and when there are spare moments we love to walk along the flat river and canal towpaths. I’ve noticed over the years a number of improvements for access for people of restricted movement particularly the entrance from one of the river paths. I look forward to seeing new talent in 2017.

  11. Carole Dane says:

    Hi trevor, I probably would have liked some of the bands but we came on Sunday. Do you know when these bands were on. . We also left about 10.30 as a long way back to Josselin. I do have a mobility problem now and made the effort up and down that slope. Probably I am old fashioned in that I like melodic trad jazz. But agree young musicians need to take Jazz forward as I have been reading of the problems in the UK struggling to keep jazz festivals going probably because of people like me. Maurice will be there next year, Carole

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