The internationally renowned Cheltenham Jazz Festival returned to my hometown a few weeks ago. It's become an annual tradition for local heroes Thrill Collins to perform on the free music stage to close the Sunday night and this is the third time I've been to see them at the Jazz Fest. The band are the first to admit that their skiffle take on popular songs is a bit of a loose fit for "jazz", but the band are perfect for this slot.
This year we headed up to the Cheltenham Jazz Fest on the Sunday afternoon with my girlfriend's parents and enjoyed wondering around the stalls on site and the little festival record shop. We popped into the free music stage, but it was what I considered to be pretty boring and "minimal" jazz music, the kind of sounds you might expect to hear in a lift in a swanky hotel. We headed up to the lovely India Lounge on the Suffolk Parade for dinner, before meeting up with friends later in the evening, ready for the much anticipated Thrill Collins performance.
The free music tent which had been full of people sat at tables and chairs listening to the "lift music" all day was starting to fill up. We stood at the front on the right hand side of the stage and were quickly scorned by someone people who said they had been there all day and had what they called the "right of way" and said we shouldn't be standing in the way. We were sure that they had no idea about the party that Thrill Collins were about to create and probably got quite a shock when the band started.
Thrill Collins quickly got the party atmosphere going, but sadly no one was dancing. The big space in front of the stage which had practically had dancefloor written all over it was full of people politely sat cross-legged. After a couple of songs, our friend Hassan lead the revolution, by carefully navigating around the floor-dwellers and started the dancing. We all followed and within seconds, we were joined by many other people who had clearly not wanted to be the first to dance, but had been dying to do so!
Before playing their skiffle take on Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing, the band challenged the audience to impress them with the best attempt of "the lift". At the key moment, we took our friend Stefan [who also happens to be Thrill Collins' manager] by surprise and all lifted him above our heads. I was a little worried about him when he was lifted so high that I could no longer reach him, but thankfully he escaped unscathed and apparently quite enjoyed the whole ordeal.
If you've not seen Thrill Collins live before, I'd massively recommend you check them out. They played at my sister's wedding and they are without the doubt one of the greatest party bands on the planet! I've linked to a couple of their videos below.