Marlborough Jazz Festival: At your service

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The Gospel Group in St Mary's Church, Marlborough, at a previous festival The Gospel Group in St Mary's Church, Marlborough, at a previous festival

When you hear people saying they are off to see a concert or musical show it’s usually at a theatre or at least in a town or village hall with a stage, writes NIGEL KERTON.

Not so for many of the events taking place over the weekend of July 19-20 at the Marlborough International Jazz festival.

The odds are that if your domestic garage or even your coal shed was big enough to squeeze in a small band and a score or two of spectators you would have had a call from the MIJF director Nick Fogg.

Every year the jazz festival finds new venues because old ones close down, such as Ailesbury Court behind what was the former hotel just a few yards from the town hall, and the car park at Brewin Dolphin’s former offices in The Parade.

The recycling and construction company Hills has moved its administrative HQ to Swindon and wealth management company Brewin Dolphin has moved to the Marlborough Business Park and its former car park is lined up for development.

But, said Mr Fogg, as one door closes another one luckily opens and this year the Castle and Ball Hotel is allowing its car park to be used.

In past years it has had bands playing both inside the hotel in its lounge and outside in its beer gardens.

How many towns have concerts in their fire stations? Every year the two Marlborough fire engines are parked outside while their station in The Parade opens up as one of the 20-plus venues.

This year it will be possible to hear jazz in no fewer than 23 venues, said Mr Fogg, including a women’s fashion store (Bow House), the recently re-named Marlbo-rough pub (formerly The Sun), in the back room at the Conservative Club and in the back garden of the Royal Oak.

A new venue for 2014 is the car park at the rear of the ASK restaurant in High Street.

The Old Rope Works in Kennet Place is an interestingly named venue that was originally exactly what its name says.

For many decades ropes for a variety of uses both industrial and agricultural were made in this yard and to twist the longer lengths the workers used to walk over a footbridge (since replaced) and along the footpath that goes to George Lane.

Even the town’s churches get pressed into use for the festival.

In previous years concerts have been held in Christchurch, and jazz masses in St Thomas More RC Church, while this year St Mary’s Church will host a jazz service on Sunday, at 10am, featuring the Marlborough Community Choir, a couple of local bands and (the festival programme states) “lusty hymn singing led by the Jazzports”.

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