Festivals as sites for discovering (and sharing) new music – Emma Webster

For Christmas this year, I was given some new CDs. So what, you may ask? The difference this year is that it’s usually my husband asking for new CDs while I stick to what’s already on my iPod (not that surprising considering that musical listening habits change throughout adulthood). This year, however, I had asked for CDs from artists I’d heard at the EFG London Jazz Festival 2015 and have been listening to them on repeat ever since. Today’s blog, then, is about festivals as sites for sharing and sharing new music with family and friends, both on- and off-site. Continue reading Festivals as sites for discovering (and sharing) new music – Emma Webster

The Streets – unexpected musical happenings on Leyton High Street – Emma Webster

The Streets is a project devised by EFG London Jazz Festival (LJF) producer, Serious, to ‘showcase the local streetscape and unlock the potential of high streets’ with the aims of spectacle, discovery, and participation. The first phase of the project started in July 2015 and consisted of a series of events across seven boroughs (Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Greenwich, Croydon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames). As Serious co-Director Claire Whitaker said to a group of students about the event: ‘The sun came out, people spent money in shops; the project was a success’. The second phase coincided with the LJF in November 2015, a deliberate ploy which allowed the organisers to take advantage of the increased number of touring musicians in the city and increased opportunities for the musicians to earn money and build an audience. Continue reading The Streets – unexpected musical happenings on Leyton High Street – Emma Webster

London on crutches – thoughts on the (in)accessibility of festivals – Emma Webster

Muddy tents © Emma Webster 2015

Back at the beginning of October I tore my calf muscle playing badminton – I have been on crutches ever since, although my leg is getting stronger daily. Whilst at no point wishing to suggest that I could understand what it is like to be chronically disabled, it has given me a small insight into mobility issues at festival about which I was previously less cognisant.

The EFG London Jazz Festival (LFJ) is predominantly venue-based – some of the fringe Streets events take place in the open air, but most, if not all, of the LJF events are indoors and most are seated. One of the things audience members have told me is that they like the variety of the Festival, in that it spans some of the largest venues in London to some of the smallest. While the larger, Arts Council-funded venues have to have an equality action plan, smaller venues do not generally have to abide by such rules and hence accessibility, or the lack thereof, may be an issue. Continue reading London on crutches – thoughts on the (in)accessibility of festivals – Emma Webster

A London festival – how the city impacts on festival – Emma Webster

One of the thoughts that I keep coming back to, and about which I have been talking with audience members, is about how the EFG London Jazz Festival (LJF) fits into London and whether its very size has an impact on people’s experience of it as a ‘festival’. Responses have varied, from those who feel strongly that the LJF does not feel like a festival, to those for whom the LJF is the first event which springs to mind when they think of ‘festival’. As co-Director of Serious, Claire Whitaker, commented yesterday, “There is the equivalent of a festival going on every night in London”, and signs of the Festival are often only overt at the festival venues themselves. Continue reading A London festival – how the city impacts on festival – Emma Webster

Festivals as learning environments and the coolest instrument in the world – Emma Webster

The coolest instrument in the world is the electric guitar – or, at least, that is what was taught to twenty school children today as part of one of the EFG London Jazz Festival educational events. And after today’s wonderful concert by Chris Montague, I am fully inclined to agree!
Continue reading Festivals as learning environments and the coolest instrument in the world – Emma Webster

Why do audiences attend festivals? – Emma Webster

As part of my research at the EFG London Jazz Festival, I have been speaking to audience members about what they get out of festivals and why they attend. The following is a brief overview of just some of the themes that have arisen so far:- Continue reading Why do audiences attend festivals? – Emma Webster

Festival as amplifier rather than umbrella? – Emma Webster

The EFG London Jazz Festival is often described as an ‘umbrella’ for events taking place within it. Events take place at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s which operate all year round, with the addition of special events with ‘big name’ artists promoted by Serious, the Festival’s producer, and other special gigs. However, I suggest that rather than an umbrella – a device for sheltering and protecting – the Festival is instead an amplifier of cultural activity. As an amplifier, the Festival increases and intensifies existing activity and in doing so, attracts other media and hence – in the case of radio – literally amplifies the music beyond usual levels of activity. In the case of the London Jazz Festival, this is through media partnerships with BBC Music and Jazz FM, but jazz is also getting more coverage than usual in broadsheets and other media as a result.
Continue reading Festival as amplifier rather than umbrella? – Emma Webster

Behind a live radio broadcast at Ronnie Scott’s – Emma Webster

Jazz on 3 @ Ronnie Scott's, 13 Nov 2015 © Emma Webster 2015

Over the course of my research into live music, the phrase I’ve probably heard the most is ‘You can’t beat live music’. Another phrase often repeated more generally is how the pictures are better on radio. Last night I was lucky enough to actually be at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz on 3 on Friday 13th November rather than having to create my own pictures, broadcast live on Jazz on (Radio) 3, BBC Music Jazz, and Jazz FM, and presented by Jez Nelson. Continue reading Behind a live radio broadcast at Ronnie Scott’s – Emma Webster

The Signs of Festival (cont) – Emma Webster

Walking to the Barbican Centre – one of the main EFG London Jazz Festival venues – I keep a keen eye out for signs of festival.

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Outside the venue, a stone’s throw from the theatre stage door, is a grey BBC outside broadcast van. Whilst perhaps not an obvious sign of festival, it nevertheless indicates that something out of the ordinary is happening inside (the Jazz Voices concert later on will be broadcast live on Radio 3).
Continue reading The Signs of Festival (cont) – Emma Webster

The Signs of Festival – Emma Webster

Fernie Fest sign, Fernie, BC, Canada © Emma Webster 2007

Tomorrow (Friday 13th November) sees the start of the EFG London Jazz Festival 2015 (LJF), the biggest music festival in the UK’s biggest city.  I will be attending a variety of LJF events as part of a new project, The Impact of Festivals, led by Professor George McKay of the University of East Anglia (UEA).  In anticipation of what I hope will be an exciting ten days, today’s blog post considers the signs of festival – how we know a festival is on its way before it begins. Continue reading The Signs of Festival – Emma Webster