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Chegwin pops in to rescue Marlborough Jazz Festival
WHACKY television presenter Keith Chegwin stepped in to save the day when at the last minute it was realised there was no celebrity booked to open the Marlborough Jazz Festival last night.
Cheggers, as he was known to millions of children who watched programmes like Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and Saturday Superstore is a friend of local musician Mick Allport whose youth band the Jazzports played at the opening ceremony.
Mr Allport who lives in Marlborough said: “When I heard they had no-one to do the opening I asked Keith and he jumped at the chance of coming.”
In his inimitable madcap style Cheggers -- who later appeared on The Big Breakfast show with a “Wake Up Your Beggers..It’s Cheggers” slot -- took over the event and ran a light-hearted quiz giving out T-shirts and baseball caps to winners from the crowd.
Mayor Edwina Fogg, whose husband Nick has been the mainstay of Marlborough International Jazz Festival since its launch 26 years ago, was introduced by Chegwin who had the crowd laughing when he said: “Is that the mayor, I thought it was Jimmy Crankie!”
Coun Fogg, looking around the small crowd mainly of local families at the opening, said: “This is just a small sample of the huge numbers of people who will be here in this lovely town for the jazz.”
The mayor added: “We have to say a big thank you to Nick Fogg for 26 years since the founding of this amazing festival.”
The jazz festival has a reputation for usually attracting fine weather but with it starting on Friday the 13th and coming to a close tomorrow on St Swithin’s Day it was inevitably going to get a bruising and it drizzled through the opening ceremony which was followed by a cold and cold evening with overnight rain.
Nick Fogg always claims that the good weather the festival usually experiences was due to a friendly nun who prayed for it. Looking at the cloudy skies at the opening he said hopefully: “Sister Maria Assumpta has been on the case down in Kent...bring your bikinis tomorrow.”
The festival is noted for its variety of venues -- everything from the fire station to pub gardens and even the Roman catholic Church -- and this year there are more than 20 at which about 100 bands and acts are performing over three days..
The shows on the opening night included the band of graduates of music teacher Kevin Byrne from Downside School calling themselves the Slaughterhouse Seven and more than 20 other bands and including a premiere by the band Echoes of Ellington of The Queen’s Suite written by the late Duke Ellington after he met the Queen and which although being recorded on vinyl has never toured before.
One of the festival’s all-time favourites the Red Stripe Band brought the first night to a close in the massive Priory Marquee led by the effervescent Neil Drinkwater with London band’s own brand of boogie-woogie rock-a-billy jazz that had people dancing in the aisles.