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See the best of this year's music extravaganza
Two hundred events at 80 venues over ten days makes the Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival one of the highlights of the music calendar. With so many acts on offer choosing who to see can be difficult so here are my top ten artists performing free shows at this year's event which runs from July 5 to July 14.
King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys (July 6, 7pm, Star City)
Fresh from a European tour promoting their new in-concert album, Live At Last, King Pleasure and his boys are sure to get the joint jumpin' with their 1940s-inspired jive. Formed in Birmingham in 1986, the band have been jazz festival favourites for many years and always offer a classy show which gets everyone dancing.
Tipitina (July 12, 11am, Victoria Square; 5pm, The Brasshouse, Broad St)
Blues, boogie and gospel: Tipitina singer Debbie Jones
Highly rated duo Tipitina are Birmingham festival regulars. This will be their eighth year of appearing, with their show in 2011 recorded and released as an album, Taking Care of Business. Singer Debbie Jones and pianist Justin Randall deliver a mix of blues, boogie and gospel, influenced by the jazz greats of New Orleans.
The Broombusters (July 5, 5pm, The Crown, Corporation St; July 6, 3pm The Brasshouse, Broad St; July 12, 8pm, De Vere Village Urban Resort, Walsall)
Sweeping up the applause: The Broombusters
Those of a certain age may recognise the frontman of The Broombusters – Charlie 'Wolfman' Sylvester of '70s disco soul outfit The J.A.L.N. Band who were managed by Pete Waterman. With The Broombusters Charlie has fused reggae and blues, with influences ranging from Bob Dylan and Elmore James to Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters.
Ricky Cool (July 11, 7pm, All Bar One, Brindleyplace; July 13, 8pm, De Vere Village Urban Resort, Walsall; July 14, 3pm, The Brasshouse, Broad St)
Truly entertaining: Ricky Cool
He's been in showbiz for 45 years and has a sparkling CV that any musician would be proud of. Ricky Cool was with The Icebergs and The Realtos before Led Zep legend Robert Plant asked him to join him in The Honeydrippers. Then he was recruited to The Big Town Playboys before fronting the Hoola Boola Boys. Expect a truly entertaining show with his new line-up at the festival.
Sheep Got Waxed (July 5, 5pm, The Brasshouse, Broad St; July 6, 12.30pm, The Mailbox; 6pm, The Arcadian)
International: Sheep Got Waxed
This is an international festival and here are Sheep Got Waxed to prove it. The youthful trio, from Vilnius in Lithuania, are former or current jazz department students from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Formed in 2010, sax player Simonas Sipavicius, drummer Adas Gecevicius and guitarist Paulius Vaskas have built up a following by performing at shows and festivals throughout Europe.
Will Johns Band (July 11, free before 9pm, The Jam House; July 12, 12.30pm, The Mailbox; 7pm, Water's Edge Bandstand)
Guitar god: Will Johns
It is no surprise that Will Johns became a musician. His father is record producer Andy Johns and his mother is Paula Boyd, sister of Pattie who married George Harrison and Eric Clapton. With uncles like that Will's instrument of choice just had to be the guitar. His album track On My Back was nominated for Best Original Blues Song at the 2012 British Blues Awards. Later in the year he recorded his second album, Hooks & Lines, for Birmingham's Big Bear label.
Chinese Jitterbug Squad (July 6, 2pm & 5pm, Star City; July 13, 2.30pm with New Orleans Hotshots, Sant Nirankari Satsang Bhawan, Wednesbury; 5pm, The Arcadian)
Lively: Chinese Jitterbug Squad
For something a little bit different get some jitterbug action with this lively Chinese troupe who performed for the Queen in Birmingham last year. Check them out at their daytime kids and adults jitterbug workshops on July 6 at Star City.
Shreveport Rhythm (July 5, 1.10pm, Barber Institute of Fine Arts; 6pm, Water's Edge Bandstand; July 6, 12pm, Great Western Arcade; 6pm, Portofino, Jewellery Qtr; July 7, 1pm, Harvey Nichols, The Mailbox, 5pm, Slug & Lettuce, Brindleyplace)
Hot jazz: Helge Sachs of Shrereport Rhythm
More international jazz, this time from Hamburg in Germany. Shreveport Rhythm were founded in 2008 by Bourbon Street Stompers' reedman Helge Sachs. The quartet's music covers the hot jazz of the 1920s to swing of the '30s and '40s with some jive classics thrown in for good measure.
Giedre Kilciauskiene & Andrej Polevikov Qrt (July 10, 5pm, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, The Cube; July 11, 7.30pm, The Lord Clifden, Hockley)
Improvisation: Giedre Kilciauskiene
Another star from Lithuania, Giedre Kilciauskiene has teamed up with pianist and arranger Andrej Polevikov for shows featuring well known melodies combined with improvisation by the singer. Giedre is well known abroad as lead vocalist of electropunk bands Milky Lasers and Empty but she's making quite an impression with her performances of jazz and bossa nova.
Steve Ajao Quartet (July 5, 6pm, Cucina Rustica, Jewellery Qtr ; July 12, 8pm, The Sharman's Cross, Solihull)
Stalwart: Steve Ajao
A Birmingham music stalwart, Steve Ajao has entertained jazz fans in the city for more than 30 years. He began as a drummer, then moved on to blues guitar and saxophone.