The Isle of Bute Jazz Festival began in 1988 and has been staged annually on the first weekend of May ever since. The first Festival was a small affair with only six bands, and the organisers held their breath to see if anyone would come to a small Scottish island with little tradition of jazz (although big dance bands certainly played regularly at Rothesay Pavilion in the 1950’s and 60’s). Happily enough fans turned up that first year to encourage another venture the following year, and the Festival has continued to grow in reputation and stature ever since.
Some very well known jazz names featured on the programme over the next few years – Acker Bilk, Monty Sunshine, Martin Taylor, Tommy Smith, Andy Sheppard, Carol Kidd, The Temperance 7, and The London Community Gospel Choir amongst others, and the Festival continues to attract top class UK and international bands in mainly the Traditional New Orleans idiom.
The Festival is a great supporter of young musicians who feature prominently in the annual programme.