Yeah, just I did with the Slapstick Festival in February, I took some time out of work and my studies to volunteer at the 2024 edition of the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival.

As with the Slapstick Festival, I have been aware of the Jazz Festival for a number of years now but had never engaged with it before, either as a volunteer or as a patron.

But I do have a bit of a soft spot for jazz and blues music, so I said, “Fuck it,” and put my name down as a volunteer.

Ended up having a bloody brilliant weekend as a result!

This was the first year that the Jazz Festival took place at the Tobacco Factory.

The Tobacco Factory

It’s insane that the Jazz Festival has never been based there before because it is, in many ways, the perfect venue for it.

The Tobacco Factory has a very bohemian and independent and spontaneous vibe about it which is exactly what the Jazz Festival exudes.

It was also chaos precisely because it was the first time the Jazz Festival had been there so it was all untested.

The biggest issue was the lack of space for all the extra patrons who kept turning up.

Upstairs in the factory were various Jazz Festival events that patrons had to get tickets for so there were only ever a limited amount of people let into these events.

But downstairs in the Café Bar was a programme of jazz music that anyone could witness for free and, boy, did the patrons keep turning up!

The cafe bar where I did most of my volunteering

The festival definitely missed a trick by not also utilising the factories yard round the back for additional jazz performance and extra space for extra people.

But, hey-ho, maybe next year.

I spent most of my festival time in the Café Bar by the main entrance being a smiling face and helping patrons with any queries they might have.

But I didn’t mind because I got to see a lot of free jazz while I was stood there.

I also made some new friends and saw a couple of familiar faces from the Slapstick Festival.

Overall, the Jazz Festival proved to be three exhausting days (because I was stood up ALL the time), but also a welcome and relaxing retreat from work and studying.

Will I do it again next year?

I don’t know yet, we’ll just have to see if the sudden urge takes me again.