The Making of a Music Festival

Art Deco Café in Stanley Park Blackpool 27th - 30th July 2006

Starting a jazz club from nothing is quite a challenge. Starting a Music Festival  from nothing, and one which ranges from jazz to 'Last night of the Proms', is an even bigger challenge. Agreeing to help organise one and making it an outside event in the British unpredictable weather may be regarded as suicide. Musician Mike Lovell not only did that, but he is also currently organising a Jazz Festival in Blackpool Zoo

30/07/06 - Last night (Saturday), Barbara and  I went to Stanley Park in Blackpool and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience, listening to Mike Lovell All Stars with vocalist Rosie Harrison, supporting the main event of the evening which was The Cotton Club Revue with Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra featuring Tony Jacobs & The Jiving Lindy Hoppers. 


Mike Lovell's Band consisted of Mike Lovell (tbn), Dave Savill (tpt), Jimmy Thomson (reeds), Pete Eddows (dms), Pete Fielding (bs), Norman Bolton (pno) and Rosie Harrison (vocals). Norman did a sterling job, playing with Mike's band, and also depping for the Strutter's band from cold, it certainly didn't show.

The Cotton Club Revue was an action-packed show which celebrated the music, dance and songs of the Cotton Club, the famous nightclub which flourished in New York's Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s.

After weeks of continuous glorious sunshine, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse, and after a few threatening short showers, a somewhat larger downpour arrived whilst I was away getting the teas and I returned to a seat complete with a large puddle, only discovered after I had sat down!

None of this dampened the spirits of the patrons, and whistles and cheers filled the air for what was a spectacular evening of entertainment. I couldn't help being concerned about the dancers as they skipped across the wet grass to change for the next number. Thankfully there were no accidents, amazing considering the speed at which the dances took place. As someone said to me, "I've seen the Jiving Lindy Hoppers before - a couple of times, they are great and apparently made of elastic!".

Mike Lovell tells how it all came together :-

The owners of the Art Deco Cafe in Stanley Park, Blackpool, are the Lidstones - David, Angela & their daughter Natalie

"David Lidstone came to me about 6 months ago and asked me if I wanted to handle the "musical" and infrastructure side of an idea he had, which was to stage a Music Festival outside his cafe in Stanley Park.

I had done similar things down South years ago and we discussed what different musical nights we should include. Except one which ended up as a Latin night instead of a Kings of Swing night we agreed on the other three. The only reason we did not stage a Kings of Swing night was that another theatre was staging something very similar close to our event.

I had several contacts and I was able to help David book the right bands/orchestra for the right nights.

It was then a matter of getting quotes from several contract companies regarding Staging, Performance Marquee, Changing Marquees, Fencing, Security, Emergency Services, Seating, Advertising, Banners, Printing etc. etc.

It was then time for David and I to meet with the Parks Directors who I must say, really wanted the event to happen, and gave us all the assistance they could.

We then met with Health & Safety, Infrastructure, St Johns Ambulance, Security, Police, Fire Department to discuss how the evenings should proceed.

Eventually it all came together and a good time was had by all - 

Thursday night was Glenn Miller night and the Orchestra dressed in appropriate American Airforce uniforms and played magnificently. There could have been more in the audience but the ones that were there enjoyed the night and went home happy.

 Friday was Latin night, with the Virtuoso Strings going on first playing violins and performing songs from around the world. They were followed by Tropical Latin, a South American group of musicians and dancers in full carnival costumes. The band was one of the best Latin bands I have heard and played all the popular dances. The dancers came out into the audience and danced with them - a great night was had by all.

Saturday was Jazz night with local hard working band Mike Lovell Jazz Allstars with Rosie fronting the night and the Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra & the Jiving Lindy Hoppers topping the bill. What a fantastic night. It poured with rain for part of the performance but it didn't dampen any enthusiasm and the audience danced and listened under umbrellas. Another great night.

Sunday was the finale with the 30 strong British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra performing a varied programme culminating in a Last Night At The Proms set. As well as the orchestra there was an soprano opera singer, conductor and compere who brought the whole night together. The audience came with huge flags union jacks glow sticks and it was a wonderful finale to a great four days of live entertainment".

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