5 days, 5 nights with a choice of 50 superb jazz n blues acts across 20 venues in and around the stunning coastal town of Fishguard, Pembrokeshire.
Aberjazz may be one of the smaller jazz n blues festivals, but it doesn’t fall short in attracting some of the top acts from across the UK and beyond. With the laid back atmosphere and the stunning location on Cardigan Bay, Aberjazz has become a popular choice for festival goers, locals and tourists alike.
Headlining this year are the innovative and experimental jazz group Polar Bear. Described as one of the most exciting and progressive bands of their generation, they will no doubt sell out early. Polar Bear perform on Saturday in the Theatr Gwaun. Jodie Marie, a local artist who is making a big impression in the jazz World performs at Ffwrn on Saturday. Canada’s Rusty McCarthy a singer/songwriter/producer who has played with some of the Worlds top artists such as Tom Cochrane and The Blues Brothers, performs at The Railwayman’s Club on Saturday. Other big acts include Rebecca Downes, Emily Saunders, The King Bees and Huw Warren.
Lots of great solo artists on offer. If you arrive on Thursday do not miss Chris Ridgeway one of Wales’s finest singer/songwriters. Chris has fronted many of Cardiff’s popular bands and is known for his intense, raw and emotional performances. Benjamin Bassford will charm you with his smooth blues voice and excellent acoustic guitar playing. Catch Benjamin on Saturday at the Transition cafe and later on at The Globe. Another good blues artist is Pistol Pete (main image). Pete will play on Friday in The Globe pub.
For another take on jazz n blues go and see Madi Stimpson. A singer/songwriter who plays a mix of gypsy jazz, folk and bluegrass. Catch Madi at The Yacht Club on the Lower Town harbour on Saturday. I’m happy to see a female sax player in the line-up. Sandra Grant is playing in Ffwrn on Saturday. Also a flautist and vocalist, the music seems to flow through her in a powerful and free flowing jaunt. I’m looking forward to seeing her live.
Take your pick of the more traditional jazz acts. London’s Old Jazz Hat Band, Freight, a Monk-inspired modern jazz quartet from Bristol, The Nicola Farnon Trio, a classy swing and jazz act, and The Rumblestrutters, Swansea’s vintage jazz n blues trio.
Much more is on offer. View the full line up here.
Jazz n blues really is a loose label. It encompass all styles, genres, eras and instruments. Whatever music you’re into be it country, rock, traditional jazz n blues, roots, folk, gypsy jazz, salsa, dance, you are likely to find an artist or group that will satisfy your ears. It’s a really easy going festival and the quality of acts are superb. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The two main venues Ffwrn and Peppers are two of the best venues in Pembrokeshire (in my opinion). Ffwrn is a beautifully decorated French inspired converted hall with welcoming hosts, barrels of beer, fine wines and tasty pastries. Peppers is a charming and elegant café/bar/gallery with friendly staff, a wide range of wines, cocktails, beers and a choice of good quality food. They tend to host the jazz acts.
Other venues include cafés, pubs, a theatre, The Yacht Club, The Railwaymans Club and The Country Club. Basically anywhere with room for a stage is made use of at Aberjazz. Locals are geared up to make the event enjoyable for everyone.
For those who’ve not been Fishguard is one of those unassuming small coastal towns. It’s old, very old. Some of the buildings are intact from the 1700’s. It’s right on the coastal path. You’ll get a plenty of fresh air sweeping in from Cardigan Bay and the surrounding hills of The Gwaun Valley. And you’ll see some interesting and friendly characters roaming around. It’s a great location to host a jazz festival.
Food and Drink
There’s a good choice of cafés and restaurants. Take a walk down to the Lower Town harbour, at the end of the pier is Cafe on the Quay. A to die for location with views of Cardigan Bay. Try a freshly caught crab sandwich. Or have a choctail at the No 14 Chocolate House in the town itself. Choose from a wide selection of flavours and whisk it up to how you like it. It will entertain the kids and you can have an alcoholic one if you wish. Most of the pubs offer a good range food, some I noticed have gluten free options.
If possible stay in Fishguard or Goodwick. Last year I stayed at the Hamilton Backpackers Hostel. One of the nicer hostels I’ve stayed in. It’s more like a friendly B&B than a pack em and stack em hostel. As it’s on the Pembrokeshire Trail you’ll find lots of walkers and tourists staying around the town. For places to stay including campsites check out Go Fishguard, Visit Pembrokeshire or Trip Advisor.
All acts are superb. Come along. You won’t be disappointed.
See my review of Aberjazz 2014.
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