The Australian Jazz Convention came to town as far back as 1970 featuring a reformed Graeme Bell Band that hadn’t played together in over 18 years. The Convention running at the height of Summer from Christmas to New Years Eve, featured a Jazz parade down Macquarie and Talbragar streets, swimming at Sandy beach on the Macquarie River, a New Year’s Eve party at the no longer existing Royal Theatre in Wingewarra Street. And jazz in pubs all around town.
A Dubbo City Jazz Band has existed in Dubbo long before the Dubbo Jazz Club was formed and featured musicians who later become part of the new enterprise.
Dubbo Jazz Club Inc was formed in late 1990 by a small group of enthusiast driven by Dr. Stephen Jewell, Geoff De La Lande and Warwick Blowes. The first Festival in August, 1991 was held at the Western Star and Pastoral Hotels with one feature band and five others participating over three days.
The 5th Annual Festival in August 1996 had four feature bands supported by ten other local and imported groups. The year 2000 saw the engagement of the first International band in 10th Avenue Jazz Band from the USA and they proved a sensation ably assisted by the New Melbourne Jazz Band. Since that time we have continued to engage international bands from the USA, Italy, Hungary, the U K, Fiji, New Zealand and the Czech Republic. In 2003, due to the increasing crowds and the loss of entertainment rooms to poker machines in the hotels, we moved the whole of the festival to the Dubbo RSL Club Resort and they came on board as the Major Sponsor.
In the last 10 years the Festival has grown each year thanks to increased financial support from Grants and Sponsors, which have allowed us to lift the profile considerably, particularly with the quality of the performers. We have continued to work in partnership with many of the local tourism outlets by providing excellent bands for their clientele’s entertainment on the weekend of the festival. Plus word-of-mouth from people who have regularly attended the Festival and spread the word has enabled the Festival to flourish and grow.
2012 saw Dubbo Jazz conduct the 22nd Annual Dubbo Jazz Festival presenting twenty odd feature bands from all over Australia. They are supported by local and imported groups making this by far the best line-up of jazz musicians ever assembled west of the divide.
2013 has seen the emergence of a new Dubbo Jazz Club Committee committed to building the Festival and the Club in the life of Dubbo, extending the potential and reaching of this iconic event. The 2013 Jazz Festival will be the largest festival to date with over 200 musicians involved in nearly 50 concerts as well as audience of over 2,500 bringing the hundreds of supporters and jazz fans from all Australia.
The main Festival venue continues to be the Dubbo RSL Club Resort plus we are spreading the jazz across the town at a variety of other venues through the Jazz Around Town program. We continue to extend the Festival with many of the premiere local venues including Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Western Plains Cultural Centre, Outlook Cafe, Lazy River and Red Earth Estates, Dubbo Rugby Club, No 95 Red Earth Restaurant and Piano Bar, Club Dubbo Bowling Club and Blues at the Castlereagh Hotel.
In keeping with the long-term commitment to promote and encourage school and youth bands we continue to involve the school bands as part of the festival program. This year the festival will be also offering an adult workshop program, and a workshop in conjunction with local schools and the Macquarie Conservatorium of Music assisted by festival artists. This program will also be linked to the NSW School Bands Festival, which runs on the same weekend as the Festival.