It would be hard to feel down in the dumps in Luxembourg on the one night when great jazz and blues could be heard throughout the Grund and Clausen and when the streets themselves took on a Mardi Gras feel, teeming with people talking, dancing and partying.
The annual Jazz’n Blues Rallye took place this year on Saturday 25 July, and even the grey skies and threat of rain were chased away as the first singers took to their microphones and the first sultry notes of saxophone were played around 7 p.m. Despite gloomy forecasts, the heavens never broke open, but people poured into the area early on and stayed till the drinks and food trucks packed up and the last finales were played a little after 3 a.m. Between those hours, there was live music in five different zones, and from 11 p.m., at six different cafes and bars too.
Long term Luxembourg residents Terry and Jo Farrelly, like many of the people who were walking between the various stages and enjoying the range of music, are regulars at the event. “We love this kind of music,” Jo said. “We often go out Thursday nights to hear blues in town, and we always come to the Rallye.”
Bettina and Luc Vanetti also come every year if at all possible. “We’re big fans,” said Luc. “This year our kids happen to be on a Scout’s weekend, so we can stay out late”. Bringing their kids, now 11 and 13 years old, may have given them an earlier curfew in previous years, but maybe it’s also partly to credit for the children’s interest in playing the saxophone and flute.
Worth a detour
The Rallye doesn’t just bring in locals though. It’s a magnet for drawing in people from across the borders too, and even lures former residents back to their old stomping grounds. Jared Jacob from Sydney used to live here, and was back in Europe for a wedding.
“Nick [Curwen] told me the rally was on, and I thought it would be the perfect chance to see my old mates,” he said. So he took a side excursion to the Grand Duchy and met up with Nick and other friends, including Keylan Kelly.
Very likely Jacob ran into a good dozen other people he knew as well--there were a lot of high fives, handshakes and hugs going on as people bumped into co-workers, neighbours, old friends and people they hadn’t seen since last year’s Rallye.
But enough about the crowds, what about the music they came out to hear? There were some 50 different groups performing, from the Sonny Rhodes Blues Band and others coming from as far away as the USA to local faves Sneaky Pete playing at the Rue St Ulric and The Soulcookies keeping the crowd dancing outside The Pyg.
Surely the artists deserve more attention than their audiences? Well, they got plenty on the night, and you can still find the full programme online in case you want to find out more about a group you discovered there.
Without taking away anything from the talented musicians, the Rallye’s kind of like a fantastic dinner party--even more memorable than the excellent fare is the fabulous setting and the great company!