Eltham Jazz Festival returns to the town centre

Words by Mike Young with Rob Cairns

Shuffle Club performing at Eltham Jazz

Last time I saw Andrew Tsindos and fellow band members of Soul Sacrifice playing the music of Santana at the Eltham town square, the resonance stayed with me for days” –  local resident.  

Jazz, along with its variations and adjacent genres, seems to have a way of stimulating an unexpected type of aliveness.  Perhaps that comes from the creative roots of improvisation.

Well, the Eltham Jazz, Food & Wine Festival returns to Eltham town centre on 25 February 2023 to saturate the airwaves of the town square and Commercial Place. 

The organising committee has a lot to promote.

This free event features soul-soothing performances from the Pearly Shells Swing Orchestra featuring Julie O’Hara and The Lachy Doley Group; and yes – Soul Sacrifice too.

More than 15 talented jazz, blues, soul, and funk bands, including The Shuffle Club, Phil Para Band, The McNamarr Project, and local students from St Helena Secondary College, will perform at the festival from 11.30am to 11.30pm.

As well as great music, attendees can enjoy a variety of cuisines and locally produced wine, gin and beer. There will also be free kids’ activities such as face painting, a jumping castle, and craft activities between 1pm and 5pm on Pryor Street. The street will be blocked to vehicles from west of the Aldi car park entrance to Main Road.

Participants enjoying the music

Come along and enjoy a day of exceptional live music, food, wine and fun with your loved ones. Renew in person connections that may have faded during lockdowns.  Make new ones! Music transcends all languages – enjoy immersive experiences with your community.

The 2023 lineup includes:

  • The Lachy Doley Group
  • Pearly Shells Swing Orchestra featuring Julie O’Hara
  • The Shuffle Club
  • Spoonful
  • The McNaMarr Project
  • Phil Para Band
  • Rambal
  • Nat Bartsch Quartet
  • Soul Sacrifice – The Music of Santana
  • Shirazz
  • 32 Bars
  • Wilson & White
  • Bluetone Assembly
  • Nu Funk-O-Matics
  • St Helena Secondary College Stage Band

How good is it to be back in town again!  Best shopping strip free music festival in Australia

Mike Young (acting president – event organising committee)”.

One of the best things about the festival is seeing and hearing Eltham town so alive. This year, although the festival is only running over a single day, there appears to be a really interesting lineup. Plenty of traditional jazz and blues, but many of the groups do it with a twist! Some great singers, too. I recommend doing some homework to decide which bands are for you. Thanks, Eltham! Let’s hope the weather is kind.

Jan McKenzie, Eltham resident.

Visit www.elthamjazz.com.au to find out more including the full program and details of the free launch party on Friday 17 February, where you can sample the music in advance.

First held more than two decades ago with five roving bands on a street corner, the festival has increased in size and reputation and was recognised by American Express among the world’s top 20 best jazz festivals. It is now run by the committee of volunteers as a not-for-profit event, with funding from the Nillumbik Shire Council, the Eltham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and local businesses. 

Previously a two-day event, the festival has been slightly shortened because of cost increases.  However the main day, Saturday 25 January, has been extended, starting at 11:30am and finishing at 11:30pm. Adding in an innovative launch party, 5pm to 9pm Friday 17 February, brings the festival time to 16 hours.