Jazz lovers of Australia go wild, because the 70th annual Australian Jazz Convention is here to get your toes tapping and your hips moving as it takes over Ballarat.
“We are getting inundated with hundreds upon hundreds of people who are going to make that journey from Melbourne. And so Ballarat seemed to be the most logical place,” says Convention Director Rod Andrew.
“We started back in 1946, just after the Second World War finished, and basically it’s the same program that’s been running ever since. The program has a very large performance element to it. And so we have eight facilities around town, mainly all up and down Lydiard Street North and in the old hotels.”
Filling the streets and buildings of Ballarat with smooth jazz melodies from some of the finest musicians in the country, up to 178 bands will be performing over the six day period. And the best part? A lot of the events are free, so you can come along and even join in on a whim. The Big Street Parade on Christmas Day is one such event.
“We’re inviting locals to come along and especially children. We’d love the children to come along with a tin pan or something and bang away and make a heck of a racket along with all the other musicians,” laughs Andrew.
Coming up Lydiard Street before it turns into Police Lane and culminates in Alfred Deakin Place for a Mass Band Blow Out.
“It’s not something that you have to sit in a concert room and really concentrate on and analyse it all. It’s just free flowing, happy toe tapping music – which makes people very happy,” he shares.
Locals are also encouraged to come along to the Twilight concert at the Mining Exchange on the Saturday night from 6-9pm. Here some of the most notable bands to attend the convention will perform. Rounding out the evening with food, wine and the opportunity to lounge, it really is the perfect night for music lovers.
“There’s going to be also a lot of street music in and up and down the lanes and in various restaurants in Lydiard Street. So that’s another area where lots of musicians will play, and that’s all free and they’re just having a lovely jam. So for six days we’re turning Lydiard Street on it’s head really,” Andrew says.
Other events over the six days includes piano recitals at the Ballarat Art Gallery, an Original Tunes competition on December 29, a New Year’s Eve Dinner and Party and the Music Industry Trade Fair held over Dec 27-30. Selling everything from LPs, vinyl, original jazz fans, wood work and instruments, there will also be workshops available. “Because it’s a convention and not a festival, workshops are paramount to bring people along to speed with new ways of playing their instruments and enjoying their music,” Rod explains.
There is something infectious about jazz music, and in its 70th year, the folks at the Australian Jazz Convention are ready to bring it to a whole new generation of music lovers. “Just enjoy, that’s what we need to do in a day where most news items are not the best from around the world. This sort of music, this happiness has spread, and it’s just good fun.”
The 70th Australian Jazz Convention will be held in Ballarat from December 26-31. Register at www.2015jazzconvention.org.au.