Jazz festival line up hits bum note

Several local musicians are upset by what’s perceived as lack of local acts and notable absences, like Kokomo (pictured), from the 2017 Tauranga National Jazz Festival line-up. Photo: Colin Lunt.

The line-up for this year's Tauranga National Jazz Festival has struck a sour chord with some local musicians.

Released last week, the line-up so far features 30 bands and musicians, but several members of the local music community are decrying what they say is a lack of Tauranga acts on the bill.

“I'm still at a loss to understand what has happened to Tauranga's National Jazz Festival this year,” reads a blog post written by Derek Jacombs on the Kokomo website.

“I am talking about the remarkable absence of Tauranga acts on the programme. Bands from the Bay seem to have got the finger.”

He's disappointed Kokomo's not performing this year, especially given the fact their Baycourt show sold-out in 2016, but says they're not alone as Brilleaux, Bonjour Swing, Marion Arts, Bay Dixie, The BBC, Trevor Braunias Trio, B-Side Band, The Mike Garner Band, “none of them are playing”.

A former director of the festival for almost a decade, Derek says they would make sure local bands got priority on the programme, adding he's “gutted at this complete lack of respect for local musicians”.

“It makes sense financially as there are no travel and accommodation expenses and it reinforces that this is a Tauranga festival, showing-off and celebrating Tauranga music as well as that from around the country.”

He also questions why the organisers have decided not to run any concert on the Thursday night, especially when there were two sold-out concerts, Kokomo's show being one of them, on the Thursday night at Baycourt.

“Why would you make the festival smaller while simultaneously dropping a proven income generator? The concerts are your chance to make money and last year proved that the Thursday night could do just that. 

“When I was involved in running the festival we put a lot of the success down to uniting the local community behind the event. This year the organisers have managed to alienate and offend a whole raft of local musicians.

“These musicians have friends and supporters; I suspect the rest of the community and audiences won't be far behind.”

National Jazz Festival Tauranga director Becks Chambers appreciates some local musicians are disappointed, but feels there's a bit of confusion out there concerning this year's line-up.

She believes one of the biggest issues is the fact the programme and accompanying brochure launched on January 18 does not feature the full, confirmed line-up.

“The reason for not announcing the full line-up sooner was we didn't want to announce it and then realise we hadn't got all our funding and have to pull bands,” she explains.

“Our intention has always been once our final budget was confirmed we'd release another selection of bands, a lot of them will be the local bands that people are looking for.”

For example, she says more locals acts are likely to be announced for the new Waterfront Gala taking place on Easter Monday, with a number of them performing amongst the stalls of the little Big Markets which will take place in the carpark during the gala.

She adds that of the acts that have been announced so far, a number of them feature local musicians, like the headline show Alchemy which stars Tauranga's Ria Hall performing alongside Anna Coddington, Julia Deans and Bella Kalolo.

“Well known jazz musicians like Carol Storey, Liam Ryan, Trevor Braunias and others are forming different bands at the moment, so they're included in the line-up but might not be recognised as being Tauranga acts.”

Becks says another issue is the festival's Jazz Village, which is usually held in the Historic Village and normally features a number of local acts in the line-up, will not be taking place this year.

The decision not to run the village is due to the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust's plans to build a new building on the green space, she says.

“People loved the green space and being able to sit on it and watch the bands. But because it's such a popular event, getting 3000-5000 people in the streets alone would be kind of chaotic.

“So instead of working around the building what we want to do is rest the Jazz Village, give it a break, revaluate it, get feedback from the community, spruce it up a bit and then re-launch it even bigger and better next year.”

Becks says the key thing with this year's festival is the fact there's a lot of new, up-and-coming or newly formed bands featuring local musicians who are taking part.

She also adds Tauranga City Council is one of the festival's major sponsors and as part of their funding requirements the organisers were asked to put together a programme featuring a good spread of local, national and international acts.

“From the Jazz Society's point of view, we don't want to keep rolling out the exact same programme year after year. We're just trying to add some variation to it. And part of the society's vision and goal is to promote new jazz, so you're constantly showcasing the best of our nation's jazz.

“We feel really strongly about giving new bands a chance to perform at the festival.”



Posted on 04-02-2017 16:57 | By surfsup

I do indeed owe Mr Clarke and apology as I have reread his blog. I failed to understand the depth of feeling that Brilleauxs non appearance would conjure up. Just goes to show the power of the people stamping their feet in order to overturn a decision taken by the committee charged with making the event a success and appealing to a wide range of people. What I am surprised at is that Graham would even consider having Brilleaux appear at an event funded by Tauranga council who must be paying for it with money obtained from the rates it charges, as this along with taxes that the government takes or steals as Graeme likes to put it, has always been a major beef for him.Is their not a touch of rather large hypocritical double standards going on.

@ Nerak & Sage

Posted on 31-01-2017 13:36 | By Colleen Spiro

Hey thanks for the good wishes Karen......I don't doubt I will have fun at the Byron Blues Festival.....but hey I am coming back.....because I was BORN here and that was 64 years ago. Can you not give an honest opinion under your own name?Oh Crikey Sage, did I get it wrong, I do apologise, was it the years the Jazz has been going. The Jazz Festival celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 2012. Oh and as I said to Karen...I will be back, only going for 12 days. Tauranga is my home. Tell me what else I got wrong and I certainly will apologise.....afterall we are just giving our OPINONS.

@ Colleen

Posted on 31-01-2017 09:30 | By nerak

Yes Colleen, like many another I use a nom de plume (nom correct spelling), thanks Sun Media for the opportunity to to so. BUT my only crutch is my honest opinion. I've lived in Tauranga for 36 years, wonder if you have been here long or are being factual, you state the Jazz Festival has been successful for ?over? 55 years. Started 1963. Certainly when I first started going to the Festival 36 years ago it was a great place to be, great atmosphere, and remained so for many years. Sadly over the past few years there has been a decline in that great atmosphere, along with the lessened pleasure of strolling the streets over a few days to enjoy a great variety of talent. Bring on a director who knows what needs to happen! And Colleen, pray you well as you go.

Good on you Colleen

Posted on 30-01-2017 19:43 | By The Sage

Enjoy Byron Bay and we will miss your opinions. You might show your name but it doesn't mean you know what you are talking about.

Surfsup is Making stuff up

Posted on 30-01-2017 11:57 | By The Tomahawk Kid

Not once have I (Graham Clark) stamped my foot or complained that Brilleaux were not appearing at the festival - that is YOU making stuff up, and unless you can show people where I have done this, then an apology would be in order.I made an announcement to inform our followers that we were not going to appear this year as they look forward to seeing us play at the festival. I accepted the organisers decision and agree with them that they need to introduce new acts.The Tauranga National festival is an institution. It was originally just a jazz festival that was rescued from extinction by Derek, Damian and Colin, who introduced blues music to the mix to attract a bigger audience. It is still the jazz festival and that musical genre is kept alive by the popularity of other genres. Long may it continue.

@ Sage & Nerak & Penguin

Posted on 30-01-2017 10:09 | By Colleen Spiro

It is easy for you to attack someone personally, by hiding behind a non de plume..... The Jazz Fest has been sucessful for OVER 55 years. and it hopefully it will continue to be so. I too liked the format of it being all over town, with bands in each little cafe, pub, but have enjoyed the carnival as it as well, with a mixture of jazz, soul, funk. I have also enjoyed the Monday at the village, when the village green was available, but the sponsor TECT, has not allowed this to be held for the past two years...How is the waterfront going to work, who knows. It is a limited space. I'm off to Byron Bay Blues Fest, so will have to rely on feedback.

The best Jazz festivals...

Posted on 29-01-2017 19:08 | By morepork

... in Tauranga were the ones where various musicians and groups played in local bars, cafes, and coffee bars (most of which did NOT feature live music usually). The people could move freely from gig to gig and there were amazing nuggets of gold to be found. It doesn't matter where the performers are from (although local ones would be well placed to perform), what matters is the music, accessibility for the public, and the whole experience. Instead, it has moved to "name" bands (which doesn't guarantee enjoyment) performing on stages, with people charged for seats. So it is all about commerce and NOT about freedom, fun, and joy of music. Until everybody gets back to prioritizing the music and the celebration instead of trying to organize a cash cow, I don't see much future for the Jazz Festival.


Posted on 29-01-2017 17:35 | By Colleen Spiro

I never saw Graham stamp his feet and demand to be on the Bill, quite the opposite in fact, he stated he was grateful for the years they had been included....It was their FANS who kicked off, and rightfully so...Many Tauranga people do not bother to leave at Easter because of this event...If you read the program, you will see the downtown carnival is advertised as Jazz, Funk and Blues....There has ALWAYS been that element at the downtown Carnival and at Baycourt for that matter. It is my personal belief is that is why it is so popular...I don't like Jazz, but manage to enjoy Easter Jazz every day it is on....Pull all those Funk and Blues bands and I guarantee the festival would not be as popular as it has been. Ratepayers enjoy the TCC funding. Bars also pay.

Reason it has gone downhill

Posted on 29-01-2017 16:07 | By The Sage

The reason it is not functioning well as they have had a succession of poorly equipped people running it. Rebecca or "Becks" as she likes to be known needs to have the interests of Tauranga at heart instead of self promotion. This is no longer a Jazz Festival. Sure the Bay of Islands Jazz Fest has outside bands and overseas guests. It is, however, run by locals with vast experience and knowledge behind them. They are successful at getting local businesses to contribute and support the festival. It seems we have had a whole raft of different organisers, in Tauranga, who have not listened to local wishes . We have a wide range of experience and talent here. Maybe it is time to cut loose from the present system and go back to basics. It ain't working.


Posted on 29-01-2017 14:37 | By surfsup

Presumably if we follow your logic the Bay of Islands festival would only feature bands from the bay of islands. The Tauranga festival has gone through good years and bad years and will need to always look at new acts to keep moving forward, I'm sure Rodger Fox the bastion of New Zealand Jazz would rightly be offended if he couldn't play because he wasn't from Tauranga, what a small mind Jitter must have. The downtown festival is more of a social event now with the music being part of it but not the sole reason for going downtown. Surely the festival committee have every right to change things as they see fit, anyone complaining put your name forward for the next election if there is such a thing.


Posted on 29-01-2017 14:03 | By Jitter

This is the "Tauranga Jazz Festival" not the "Imports Jazz Festival". Therefore all the interested local performers should be included. Why don't all the local performers and groups form their own jazz festival and call it "The Real Tauranga Jazz Festival". This festival has been going downhill over the last few years. The groups imported usually charge $80 - $90 plus per seat which is far too costly for many locals. The fact that there will be no concerts at Baycourt on the Thursday night is pretty disgusting also. Looks like it is time to find another festival director. Just read through Hamilton Arts Festival program. Wow ! It knocks any festival organised in Tauranga for six.

Small Minded people

Posted on 29-01-2017 13:44 | By surfsup

So we have people complaining that Kokomo and Brilleaux are not playing at the festival and they want the organizers to be hung drawn and quartered. Well as neither of those bands play anything that sounds like Jazz surely the jazz lovers cannot complain. The organizers have stated they want to introduce new bands and musicians as opposed to the normal same bands that play each year, oh that must be Brilleaux and Kokomo, so Derek and Graham have stamped their feet , spat the dummy and it looks as though the organizers will role over. No stick to your guns, Brilleaux have played 2 locals shows within the last few months and I'm pretty sure Kokomo have played recently. The only true jazz that is played is at the youth competitons, so all you whingers go there if jazz is truly your first love.


Posted on 29-01-2017 12:28 | By Colleen Spiro

Derek mentioned a, sell out concert at Baycourt last year, and offered to repeat this success. .Personally am gutted for local talent and look forward to them playing each year (peppered with new talent) and I believe Derek was expressing his thoughts on behalf of almost a clean sweep out of LOCAL BANDS..... I also noticed that Liam Ryan is playing in one of two or three of the local bands at the Carnival as is the Pres of the Jazz Society. Swamp Thing is an off the scale band and brilliant news indeed that Brilleaux has been added to the line-up at the Hurricane Party. I hope people support them by buying tickets. ....It makes no sense to me at all that you would print a program, when you have not got the full line up sorted. How would you know, who is playing where?

Is it just me here that is sick of Kokomo!?

Posted on 29-01-2017 09:21 | By enjoythewaves

It seems apparent I'm about the only one here sick of hearing about Kokomo. Is it just me or does Derek have a mentality there is no festival worthy without Kokomo playing in it!? If you read the Derek blog he concedes he is still playing in the Downtown line up so why not budge over and let some other acts play for once? Sure the festival programme is a bit flat this year, I've been around long enough this town loves to complain about everything. Every festival someone, somebody has found issue. Geese, there was complaints around Earth, Wind and Fire coming. It just showed how little the city is ready for growth and here we are crying over not seeing a band or two which have had residency for what.... the last 10-15 years? Go and see Swamp Thing, local and progressive.

Brochure does not feature full line up???

Posted on 29-01-2017 08:36 | By TJ

Becks, this is your comment, a bit strange really. So are you going to reprint the brochure? Are you expecting these bands to be available with only 2 months or less notice? Tauranga should support LOCAL bands, as well as other bands. We go every year, this is a fantastic event for Tauranga. We also love Trevor Braunias trio, so would like to know which band he is now in so we can at least catch his band. Why on earth is the final budget not confirmed when you printed the brochure? Seems like a whole lot of BS to us!

Foolish course

Posted on 28-01-2017 22:59 | By nerak

Just another pocket liner? "National Jazz Festival Tauranga director Becks Chambers appreciates some local musicians are disappointed". I suggest she doesn't, nor does she have any idea whatsoever how foolish the course she has taken is, or the ramifications from her stupidity. Time will surely tell. The festival is no longer the Tauranga Jazz Festival, it is fast becoming a non event.Derek, many of us look forward to hearing further on your alternative!

Oh no - not excuses!

Posted on 28-01-2017 17:50 | By penguin

Hey Becks - trotting out shallow excuses will not placate those who, rightly so, are expressing their concerns. Given some previously disappointing years and a move away from jazz per se, you got the job partly to bring back the real, local jazz. The choices this year show a failing on your part. Count me out as a 'starter'for this year! Be brave and listen to the people....

Totally agree with

Posted on 28-01-2017 15:09 | By SML

This is the TAURANGA Jazz Festival, and local groups SHOULD be the highlight, They've supported the Tga Jazz Festival all these years, it's madness to offend so many bands - AND their supporters! Very bad decision. If you want Tauranga support, support TAURANGA musicians, please!

Time for a new organiser

Posted on 28-01-2017 14:54 | By The Sage

The Tauranga Jazz Festival needs to be organised by a local musician, not an import who likes Jazz and hasn't lived in the area long. Her predecessors left me wondering why a non musician would run a festival too. This is no longer the Tauranga Jazz Festival and I really don't know what it has become. To leave out popular local bands like Kokomo, Brilleaux, BBC, Marion Arts, to name a few, is non sensical. It is being held in Tauranga for goodness sake and the majority who attend the concerts are from here.

Typical isn't it

Posted on 28-01-2017 12:37 | By CC8

TCC "sponsors" previously successful event, the STAFF take over and make conditions and the people that started the whole thing and carried it through the hard years, the tough and bad yr=ears are left out in the wind.If I were you Derek I would find a venue ( remember our Melon Festival) and take away 75% of their local following.... Between you I know it can happen.... screw TCC , they always get on the "bandwagon" after the hard times and then claim all the Kudos...until they kick it into the corner , aye? Think of Mount Hot Pools, Bay Park,( they screwed the original and the new one). They have NO business sense, if they did they wouldnt be grey public slaves, they would be out there doing it, TCCstaff, leave the entrepreneurial events to the entrepreneurs ,YOUlotcertainlydon'thavetheskills.

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