In line with the Marlborough Jazz Festival’s growing international reputation it is not being opened this year by the local mayor or even the town’s Member of Parliament but by Euro MEP Ashley Fox, writes NIGEL KERTON.

The opening ceremony is always an exciting event as townspeople and early arrivals for the festival events mingle in the High Street in front of the Castle and Ball Hotel.

One omission this year will be the Fullers Brewery dray which in recent years has delivered one of the youth bands that now traditionally play at the opening ceremony.

The dray, which gives rides into the town from its only Fullers pub, The Roebuck in London Road, will not be arriving until the following day when its patient pair of immaculately turned-out heavy horses will give rides as usual.

The youthful exuberance of jazz bands from St John’s School and from Downside School near Bath (the Slaughterhouse Seven) will be performing at the opening together with newcomers to the festival, The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band, who will present a marching routine.

The festival events themselves kick off with the Moscow Drug Club, a 1930s Berlin Cabaret type group, playing at the ASK restaurant car park from 7pm; the Asaf Sirkis Trio at the Bear Hotel, 7pm; The Filthy Six at the Brewin Dolphin Bandstand in the Castle and Ball yard, 6.30pm; James Harpham and Andrew Barrett in the Castle and Ball lounge, 6.30pm; the Indigo Kings in the Conserva-tive Club, 7.30pm; The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band at the Crown Hotel, 7pm; Marlborough’s own Ben Cipolla Band at the Fire Station, 8pm; Bell Street Jazz Band at the Lamb Inn, 7.30pm; the Mona Lisa Twins at The Marlborough, 7pm; African band Baraka at the Fire Station, 8pm; local band 3Play at the Royal Oak, 6pm and Standard Miles band at the Town Hall, 7pm.

The big acts of the opening night are Red Stripe band in the Priory Marquee, 7pm; Seventies star Georgie Fame singing with the Alan Skidmore Quartet in the marquee, 10pm; and singer Sarah Gillespie with her quartet in the Town Hall from 10.15pm.