Brian Geoghan recalls the Jazz Festival in the 1970s and 80s
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My name is Brian Geoghan and I have been involved with the Tauranga Jazz Festival since 1978 when I shifted to Tauranga from Rotorua.
I firstly joined the Tauranga Big Band as a musician and joined the Committee from 1980 to 1985 when I moved away. I returned to Tauranga in 1997 and was asked to help the then committee to run the 1998 Festival ,this was in the October prior to the Festival . The President Gary Osborne had resigned and I was given the job as President . With little or no money we set about planning the last Festival to be held at Buretta Park Hotel.
The Festival was not a roaring success and the only good thing to come out of it was that we kept intact the continuation of the Festival from its beginning preserving the Festival as the longest running Festival held in the same place in the southern hemisphere.
During my term from 1980/85 the committee worked as a team we all had jobs to do and it usually worked like clockwork . There were always sponsorship and money problems but they always seemed to be resolved with no major worry . My fondest memories were the great music provided in the HQ in those days, and the fact that we managed to provide 2 concerts running at the same time with as many as 4 or 5 groups performing at both venues at the same time.
The Festival has grown from those early Town Hall and HQ to the Racecourse with larger concerts , the beginning of the youth festival and then a slight down turn in the mid 90s, this appears to have been brought about due to the committee from the 1980s having retired and a very enthusiastic but with few business people involved the Festival had to move from the Racecourse to a smaller venue at Buretta Park.
People were adjusting to the drink driving laws, travel and accommodation was expensive. After recently trying to go international with major overseas acts the festival has now reverted to a successful format of downtown jazz blues and blues / rock . Premier bay court concerts and use of the historic village as a jazz village. While this still needs some fine tuning the future of the festival is very strong
As to the future maybe Tauranga could combine with other musical and artistic events making it a combined longer music and arts event. It would be great for the City.
Written by Brian Geoghan