Manly Jazz kicked off on Friday 23 September bringing big brass bands, roving musicians, emerging artists (lots of local school kids!), blues inspired quartets and nouveau jazz outfits to Manly for one great weekend of live music – AT LAST!
While the weather has been hit and miss, the event has continued without interruption and appears to have drawn a decent crowd. Its final day, Sunday 25 September, is expected to have blue skies and a pleasant 20 degrees.
After a two-year hiatus, the springtime event has welcomed back visitors, bona-fide jazz enthusiasts and many loyal locals ready to mark the festival’s 45th edition.
Manly Jazz (or The Manly Jazz Festival as most of the locals call it), is, essentially, the responsibility of two key women – Artistic Director Caroline Speight who programs all the music on the four stages and selects the artists for in-venue performances, and Northern Beaches Council’s Head of Events, Lisa Dowsett.
We shot Lisa some questions about what goes on behind the scenes, what we can expect this year and whether the date of the traditionally Labour Day long-weekend-run festival has changed for good.
What goes into creating something like Manly Jazz?
“There are so many parts of Manly Jazz that no one sees; from building the stages, ensuring the right backline and sound equipment, locking in venues for additional performances, production schedules, risk and emergency management plans, running our social media pages, marketing the event months in advance, right through to erecting all the signage you see up in Manly and around the Beaches… There are resident and business notifications, answering emails from the general public and having all the back up plans ready in case weather is not on our side.”
When do you start your planning for this event?
“Generally we start planning for next year’s event while we are still delivering this year.
“For 2022 we have come out of two years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, so the world is a little different now, planning began at the start of the year after the NSW Health Orders lifted restrictions and we were more certain we could deliver the event this year.”
What is happening behind the scenes this week to get 70 musical acts onto stages for this weekend?
“The team are well prepped and so excited to have large events back. The key is all in the planning – they might look calm on the outside but they’re going at 100 miles on the inside – long days reviewing bump in schedules, checking timings, confirming suppliers and the list of tasks goes on!
“It might be helping bands with where to drop off their equipment and how to find a parking spot so they are on time, directing stage set up, answering calls from suppliers, briefing our security and volunteers, dealing with the weather and any safety concerns. The list is endless but the ideal scenario is that people coming to the event don’t see any of this – they come to Manly, listen to music, engage with our activations, support local business and have a great time.”
How many are you expecting?
If the weather is kind we’d expect to see 10s of thousands across the three days [ Editor’s note – rainy periods Friday and Saturday but a very perfect looking Sunday!]
Why was the date of Manly Jazz changed, and is it permanent?
“One of the key objectives of this kind of event is to support local businesses and provide a boost to the local economy. This is particularly pertinent given the significant challenges Manly businesses faced over the last two years, including a 67% drop in tourism in 2020.
“As a result the festival has been moved to a traditionally lower trading weekend when it is more likely a boost to the local economy. We will review how it goes!”
So what can we expect this year?
Piano for The People is back by popular demand, offering passers-by a chance to play an upright piano for their audience. Large chalk art will entice attendees for happy snaps, while a jazz garden will be set up on The Corso to offer an oasis to sit down in and soak up the atmosphere.
Roving musicians like Phat Brass, Cope Street Parade, Sax Summit and the 343 Brass Band will wander the streets with their instruments in full view. The 3-day program of Manly Jazz will feature renowned artists including Dan Barnett, one of Australia’s most respected singers, trombonists and bandleaders, Blues guitarist Ray Beadle, Jazz violinist, and vocalist George Washingmachine, and the Bob Barnard Tribute Band.
John Morrison presents the Director’s Choice Concert – a big swing jazz ticketed event covering the hits of Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
The bulk of the good vibes kick off on Saturday at 11am and run til about 6pm and the same again on Sunday, so if you’re too busy to even think about what to do just turn up and see where the music takes you – it’s free!
To get to know the program properly, visit the schedule via https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/whats-on/manly-jazz
And follow @manlyjazz on socials.