It’s not often you get to talk about The Mayor, Mardis Gras and Marilyn Monroe in the same sentence!
Well they’re all here in the story as Solihull’s annual free Jazz and Blues festival returns this weekend with the cream of the UK’s jazz and blues circuit lined up to perform, including Dickens Heath’s very own surfing squids Los Calamares.
The festival begins on Friday at 4pm with an open air party on Jubilee Gardens at the back of Touchwood followed by performances in many of the bars and restaurants, including Los Calamares who will play the British Legion in Solihull, fresh from their performance in front of 50,000 at ‘Glastonbudget’ in Leicestershire earlier in the day.
On Saturday there’s something for the kids as stilt walkers and superheroes take to the streets of Solihull alongside dhol drummers, dancers and the infectious sounds of a New Orleans jazz band as the festival’s annual Mardi Gras parade cuts a colourful path through the town centre.
The parade will be packed with performers, musicians and cartoon characters who will entertain the crowds, handing out treats and vouchers.
There are two open air stages, one in Mell Square and one in Jubilee Gardens, with bands such as Tipitina, The Broombusters, the Will Johns Band and many more playing across the weekend.
There will also be performances in venues across the town including the legendary Ricky Cool and the Fabulous Boogie Boys playing at O’Neill’s; trumpet player Bruce Adams playing at the Slug & Lettuce, guitarist Gregory Page playing at Missoula while festival sponsor John Lewis is hosting a special in-store performance by the fabulous Becky Brine, supported by jazz virtuoso guitarist Remi Harris and his trio.
The festival was launched by an arrestingly accurate Marilyn Monroe, who bewitched new Mayor of Solihull Cllr Joe Tildesley and sang a breathy ‘Happy Birthday Mr Big Bear’ to Jim Simpson of Birmingham’s Big Bear Music record label who organise the festival with Solihull Business Improvement District.
For a full run down of all of the free performances and entertainment happening across the Bank Holiday weekend, go to www.solihullfestivals.co.uk.