Jazz Festival hits town

The 2024 Castlemaine Jazz Festival kicks off tonight, Friday June 7, with an opening night extravaganza at the Phee Broadway Theatre.
This year’s opening celebration will shine the spotlight on local talent and with an exciting lineup with a focus on community.
The evening will begin at 7.30pm with our local prize winning Castlemaine Secondary College stage band under the guidance of Ben Nieuwkerk, followed by the CSC vocal ensemble directed by a very special guest Adam Przewlocki.
The evening continues with Rainbow Voices, Tara Flinn and the MaCapellas, The Castlemaine Singers and The Divine Divas. Then the crowd will be entertained by Castlemaine’s very own Thompson’s Foundry Band.
The culmination of the night will be all choirs singing together, joined by Mainesong and directed once again by Adam Przewlocki.
On Saturday the festival will kick into full gear with two big days of entertainment featuring 38 bands performing in six iconic venues, including the historic Theatre Royal, Castlemaine Bowling Club, Phee Broadway Theatre, the Coolroom at the Northern Arts Hotel and this year two nights at the very popular Boomtown Winery.
Among the artists to feature will be Melbourne talent and jazz royalty Rebecca Barnard.
Barnard hails from a rich musical background. In the 1920’s her grandparents Jim and Kath Barnard ran The Kath Barnard Jazz Band. Their son Len (Rebecca’s father) joined the band in the 1940’s at the age of 12 and went on to form his own outfit – The Len Barnard Jazz Band which toured the country and internationally.
Rebecca grew up listening to Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong spending a lot of time in the pubs of Melbourne and Sydney listening to her Dad’s band and eventually getting up and singing with them at the age of 13.
Today, her son Harry is also a musician continuing to carry the torch and marking four generations of musical and jazz talent.
The songstress says she looks forward to her first appearance at the Castlemaine Jazz Festival and will feature at the Northern Arts Hotel tomorrow, Saturday June 8 from 2.40pm and Theatre Royal on Sunday June 9 from 7pm.
Local jazz lovers may have had the opportunity to catch Barnard in her recent performance at the Theatre Royal several months ago and she looks forward to returning to Castlemaine.
“I spend a lot of time in Castlemaine. I’ve got a lot of friends there. I’m looking forward to a really enjoyable weekend and also catching some of the other artists while I’m in town,” she said.
Rebecca will be joined on stage by pianist/composer Monique diMattina and the pair will be sharing songs from Barnard’s most recent album and her first jazz offering, The Night We Called It A Day which was produced and arranged by diMattina.
“Monique played a huge part in bringing this album to life. It features some of the lesser known standards dating from 1937-1963, some of my favourites. I think the chords and the lyrics are what make them really special,” she said.
Rebecca has performed as part of countless bands, including the renowned Rebecca’s Empire; collaborated with countless artists including Paul Kelly, Tim Rogers, Renee Geyer, Deb Conway, The Meanies, TISM and Kutcha Edwards; appeared on television and radio; and released numerous of albums but despite her roots had never recorded a jazz album until now.
“It was time and it has been so enjoyable. It’s like second nature to me. It’s been like coming home,” she said.
Tickets for the 2024 Castlemaine Jazz Festival feature opening night, day pass and weekend pass options starting from $30 through to $150 Adult for the full weekend.
For more information scan the QR Code on the Jazz Festival posters around town or to secure your tickets visit www.castlemainejazzfestival.com.au

Castlemaine Mail
Your source of independent local news in the Mount Alexander Shire.