Rochdale's Jazz-on-a-Sunday

fl Rochdale's Jazz-on-a-Sunday is approaching its fortieth birthday. Originally founded and promoted by the late Terry Eastwood, it has been 'committee run' since the year 2000, with the current committee taking hold of the rein: in August, 2008, when it was about to fold due to 'being broke' because of low attendances, the wrong location and band contracts which the club could not afford.

It is no secret that attracting a younger audience has not, as yet, been successful and a diminishing older audience has resulted in an average attendance of only 53 over the last two financial years.

With Pete Lay being both Editor of Just Jazz and musician and bandleader, it does bring a conflict of interest, which is so obvious in his last few Editorials.

At Jazz-on-a-Sunday we can only pay musicians what we can afford. There is no argument that the talented musicians deserve far more than we are able to offer, but there is no obligation to travel to Rochdale either. We are as hospitable a! we can be, and, what is a fact, every year, we are able to accommodate at least ten bands who enjoy their visit, despite the fact that we are unable to pay 'Big Bucks:

We agree a contract and would never suggest reducing a fee once it had been agreed, but because of our financial limitations, we cannot afford certain bands whom we have contact­ed. With regard to young full-time professional musicians, meeting their financial needs is always going to be difficult with the bands travelling long distances. Where accommoda­tion is requested, we try to oblige.

However, to maintain Jazz-on-a-Sunday, we have to 'balance the books: Audiences do have their preferences, and yes, quite a few are 'dyed in the wool'! We also welcome a Rochdale social group at one gig per month who, while not being dedicated 'jazzers, enjoy both the music and the social aspect. This, of course, is often a source of 'talking; mentioned in a previous Just Jazz article, but we have to accept the 'rough with the smooth' and try to balance out the evening for the benefit of all who pay at the door. Jazz fans are not always the most generous at paying door charges, whilst happily frequenting the bar during the evening. Peter plays most of his gigs in the South, where door prices tend to be higher, which then corresponds with band fees. There is not a perfect solution, as the musicians and fans are both of similar ages, with corresponding health problems, often resulting in deps being called in at the last minute. Therefore, to maintain the jazz club scene, fans must stop whingeing if a dep appears with a band, and, as most bands realise, that we live in 'a two way street'; those who are unable or unwilling to accept the problems of the volunteer club organisers, will just have to stay in their own little conclave, getting paid what they demand in the few venues who can afford to do so. Jazz-on-a-Sunday 'tells it as it is' and that is why so many bands contact us before we can even contact them. Guys enjoy life, it's later than you think!! Tony Sheldon Chairman, Jazz-on-a-Sunday
(JustJazz says: Tony Sheldon raises some interesting points that I'm sure other bandleaders might like to respond to. However, we feel Tony may have misunderstood the point of the Editorial, that he refers to.)


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