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.”