Long-running jazz festival on final push towards debut in Debenham

Bob Kerr And His Whoopee Band.
Bob Kerr And His Whoopee Band.

The veteran musician behind a long-running north Suffolk music festival says his family of organisers has begun “the hard push” to get the event ready for its first ever appearance in Debenham.

The Debenham Jazz Festival arrives in the village for the first time next month, following 14 years as the Stradbroke Jazz Festival, with 11 music acts playing at the Community Centre from Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 7.

Festival founder Bob Kerr, who is also performing as the frontman of Bob Kerr And His Whoopee Band, said the decision to stage the event in Debenham came about after he moved to the village, following the passing of his wife Ann four years ago.

“It was by chance I went to the Community Centre here and thought this would make a great venue for a jazz festival, so after a bit of thought, I started the ball rolling,” he told the Diss Express.

“The Community Centre were very helpful, as they run a few Country and Western weekends there. So the Debenham Jazz Festival was born.

“In the past, the Stradbroke Festival was very successful and we had bands and people not only coming along locally and from other parts of the country, but from other European countries as well.

“So being the first jazz festival here, I had the experience to call on bands and musicians I have worked with having been a pro musician for the last 60 years.”

Mr Kerr said the event had become “very much a family affair”, with his son Matt and daughters Johanne and Caroline heavily involved in both the organisation and publicity.

The festival’s line-up of jazz performers includes Spats Langham, the Nicola Farnon Trio, Tad Newton and Jazz Friends, John Petters, Rosie Val and the Cambridge Jazz Company and Dixie Mix.

For the complete schedule, ticket information and camping details, please go to the festival website at www.debenhamjazz.co.uk, or instead visit www.facebook.co.uk/debenhamjazz