Feature Article - Suncoast Jazz Festival
The first Suncoast Jazz festival was held in St Helens in 1984, the brainchild of the then chairman of the East Coast Regional Tourism Association, Bruce Haley. Providing a vehicle for Tasmanian and guest jazz musicians to enjoy spontaneous jazz, as well as attracting visitors to St Helens, the festival won the ‘Significant Regional Festivals and Special Events’ category of the 1997 Tasmanian Tourism Awards.
From its humble beginnings, the festival has grown and been refined over the years. In 1999, some 700 people attended the weekend of non-stop jazz. Occurring over the last weekend in June, it has become the biggest jazz party in Tasmania and is listed on the Australian Jazz Calendar as a major event.
The Suncoast Jazz festival features top-line guests and local musicians. World-class Australian jazz musicians who have played include Bob Barnard, Tom Baker, Eric Holroyd, Paul Furniss, Alex Hutchinson and Ian Pearce.
The Suncoast Jazz club, formed in 1992, grew out of the festival and administers the Suncoast Jazz festival. The club is very active and holds regular jazz concerts, including the annual summer Jazz in the Cherry Orchard at Cerise Brook, an outdoor concert.