Back to Devon…

As we make our way back to Devon, time for a bit of reflection. (Well, I need to pass 20 hours on the coach…)

Seriously, from a personal point of view, I’ve been delighted on so many fronts. Firstly, and most conspicuously, there has been the quality of the music-making: it is sometimes a risk of working with an ensemble or organisation in which excellence is the norm that you can  forget how exceptional the results are. But I can tell you that both Graham and I feel extremely proud to work with so many wonderful young musicians, who excel both musically and on a personal level.

Secondly, and again, personally, I was both relieved and delighted at the success of Vienne. It started as a bit of personal mission as I have more than a passing interest in that area of France, and pass through Vienne on the train fairly often (next time will be in less than two weeks!) One of the slight disappointments about Montreux is the relative inaccessibility of the top jazz acts to people who don’t own oil wells; at Vienne, in contrast, one can go to seven nights (each with three sets from major artists) in the Théâtre Antique (where we watched Trombone Shorty) for the price of just one ticket at Montreux. And our welcome from Vienne, the size of the audience, the helpfulness of the stage crew and quality of the sound were every bit the equal of Montreux’s.

Of course, these things only happen with a great organisation and a great team, and in the DYJO Association we have both, which makes Graham’s and my musical jobs so easy. Nic, Tim, Maria, Matt and Alison did all those things that make a tour successful, keeping everyone safe and happy, and behind the scenes, the Association itself gave us all the encouragement and support needed.

So, what next? Well, on the general organisational level, it’s time to say goodbye to leavers, to look forward to the plans for the new season starting in September (the main dates are already in place), and to the job of recruiting new players.

And given the success of this tour, not surprisingly, one or two of us have been mulling over future tour options: certainly the mix of Montreux and Vienne proved to be a wonderfully exciting mixture, and I’m fairly certain that those doors will remain open in the future. Though, as ever in DYJO, we’ll be reflecting and thinking how we could make it even better, if and when we return!

DYJO Does Vienne – for the first time!

That was quite a night!

We’re now back in our hotel in Chasse-sur-Rhône for our final night, ready for our coach journey back tomorrow, but I’m sure we’re all buzzing from our performances in Vienne this afternoon. After our trip to a chocolate museum in the town where the composer Berlioz was born, we returned to Vienne for lunch, and the preparations for both our performances on the Cybèle stage this afternoon. A stage- and sound-crew every bit as efficient as that at Montreux prepared the stage well ahead of time, and in a late change to plans, DYJO1 did their set first, as everything was already set up for the larger band.

It will be no surprise that they did a storming set, rather longer than their rain-curtailed set at Montreux, and with the sun shining down, the large crowd were immediately in the mood for DYJO1’s energetic set. Graham tempted fate by played ‘Here’s That Rainy Day’ again, but this time the heavens didn’t open, and the players and audience stayed warm and dry.

It was an unusual treat for DYJO2 to play after DYJO1, and with the help of a few key DYJO1 players, DYJO2 pulled of a storming set, including splendid audience participation in Mambo No.5! With a show of hands suggesting that only half a dozen in the audience understood English, I took the rash decision to dedicate some of my remaining brain cells to doing the all the announcements in French, and just about got away with it, I think. Great solos from all of DYJO2, of course, but Cameron’s solo in Tow Away Zone brought the house down. We ran out of time on a high on Birdland, with the French chanting “Deezho, Deezho, Deezho!” for the encore that wasn’t to be. Always leave the audience wanting more… I think that both DYJO1 & DYJO2 did just that tonight. Both bands can be extremely proud of themselves, and both Graham and I are extremely proud of both bands too!

And now for the piles of photos – thanks to Felix for his photos of DYJO2, while I waved my arms about on stage.

Vienne – last evening

What a night! A short post for now: we’ve finished our post-gig meal, and having heard some young French jazz students, we’re now being treated to some classy late-night jazz on the small Cybèle stage, before the return to our hotel for the last time.

I’ve got a pile of photos of the gig to sort later, when I’ll give a report on our performances.

For now, though, Ill just say: magnifique!

DYJO gets wet…

After yesterday’s long but splendid day in Montreux yesterday, today was a DYJO Day Off. Well, it was a day off public performance (mostly – more of that later), but DYJO Days Off don’t involve lounging around.

First up was a couple of hours of swimming in the lovely Stade Nautique just over the Rhône from Vienne. (I took the long way round and went for a quick ride into the beautiful Parc Regional Naturel du Pilat.)

Then a Graham Special Treasure Hunt in Vienne, culminating with the climb up to to top of the hill into which the Théâtre Antique is built. Jamie’s team was halfway through their treasure-hunt challenge Vienne Rap when a slightly bemused party of tourists arrived by mini road train.

We returned to our stage for tomorrow, Scènes de Cybèle, to listen to a lovely voice and piano set, but that was abruptly curtailed by the most impressive ‘orage violent’ which sent performers and audience scurrying for cover, and the stage crew trying to prevent a flooded grand piano and electrics. In fact that act couldn’t return, and the next act was cancelled entirely.

Our drowned rats took an unscheduled trip back to the hotel to warm up in dry clothes, before a return to Vienne for an evening meal together, in a café by Vienne’s impressive cathedral, and a bit more jazz up in town, before the return to the hotel.

Quite a day, all in all.

DYJO plays at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2017

It was an early start for us from Vienne for our trip to Montreux. This is the first time DYJO has based its tour at Vienne, but my sudden thought “Why not see if we can visit Montreux as well?” all fell into place when Montreux said they were happy to have us back. The traffic was easy, and we arrived in time for an early lunch near the Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux, followed by a leisurely stroll along to the Music In The Park stage.

After sound-checking both bands, we were ready for the first set from DYJO2, with helpers from DYJO1 filling the few spaces. As usual, the band played their socks off, with strong solos from the DYJO2 players throughout the band, and a couple of vocals from Emma. The audience roared their approval. They even did some singing, with a little coaching and encouragement (in French!) from me.

I happened to notice just before DYJO2 played Birdland – by Weather Report – that the skies looked threatening behind the audience, and virtually the moment the music stopped, the heavens opened, the wind went beserk, and the elaborately organised stage arrangement had to be cleared as the rain threatened to flood the electrics. Unfortunately this delayed the start of DYJO1’s set, but they made up for the late start with a fast-paced set featuring loads of enery and great solos (as ever). Amazingly, the audience who had been driven from the arena magically reappeared in even greater numbers, and they were right royally entertained.

All in all, a great showing for Devon, in possibly the most famous jazz festival in the world. The lady from Ilfracombe, who heard us in Montreux in 2014, was back again – she must think it’s good, to come all that way to hear us!

Vienne – Trombone Shorty

Last night I think we were all blown away by the gig at the Théâtre Antique given by Trombone Shorty. The combination of a completely stunning venue and outstanding music making was sheer delight from beginning to end.

The amphitheatre has been a place of entertainment for about 2000 years, and on last night’s showing has plenty of life in it yet: a steeply-raked arena seating about 4-5000, with great acoustics, provided the perfect venue for a band and its leader who entertained with both the show and the mix of styles of music – my ears heard funk, jazz and heavy metal, and there was much else there in the mix. Trombone Shorty himself  sang, played trumpet and trombone, and for one song even played the drums. And he definitely played the audience too, who lapped up every moment. A night never to be forgotten, not least by us DYJO folk!


Trombone Shorty

We had a most excellent time listening to Mr Shorty and his popular beat combo… I’ll put up a few better shots tomorrow from my proper camera, and some more enlightening words! We got back at 00h30, and alarms are set for 6h00 tomorrow for the early breakfast and getaway to Montreux!

DYJO in Lyon

Today’s day so far: a circuitous journey to the Première Arrondissement in Lyon, rehearsals for both bands in a rather cosy little studio: while one band rehearsed, the other got a taste of this older quarter of Lyon. (The narrow streets and tight corners required much skill and patience from Berry’s coach driver Jamie: he got a round of applause for one manoeuvre!)

Then a quick trip to a Carrefour to get bargain sustenance for the day, and after some munched sandwiches, a short walk to the futuristic Musée des Confluences, and an educational two hours there. 

We’re now back at base before the short journey to Vienne for the evening, and the excitement of hearing Trombone Shorty in the Théatre Antique.  A report on that will follow… probably tomorrow, as it’s a late night tonight, and an early start in the morning, for our day in Montreux!

Vienne visited…

Well, the end of quite a day… after 19 hours of travelling, and couple of hours of sorting out our rooms, we caught the train in from Chasse-sur-Rhône, and started to get to know Vienne. The evening was spent listening to jazz from the stunning free stage of Scènes de Cybèle, and finding out where things are. That’s the stage we’ll be playing on on Tuesday!

A quick glimpse by me up to the amazing Roman amphitheatre set in the hillside suggests that listening to Trombone Shorty there tomorrow night is going to be quite something!

Anyway, that’s enough for now… I’ve slept just 20 minutes since Thursday morning, and it’s time to catch up with sleepland.


We’ve arrived, showered, train tickets bought, Brian cycled (purely for educational reasons, of course), and now we’re off to catch the train two stops to Vienne, to get our first taste! All good so far!