I’ve been very fortunate to perform and attend South Korea’s biggest jazz festival, the Jarasum International Jazz Festival this year! It was such a beautiful experience both as a performer and audience member. From catching guitarists like Lionel Loueke and Badi Assad to groups like The Dieter Ilg Trio and RONIN, it was a unique experience. For my own performance, it was an honour to share my Malaysian fingerstyle guitar pieces and reinterpretations of Malaysian pop classics Getaran Jiwa and Malam Bulan Dipagar Bintang. As a tribute to the wonderful folks in South Korea who invited me, I also arranged a version of their folk song, Arirang.
Jazz festivals can bring people together from all around the world and it’s just a really colourful experience that I recommend for jazz fans.
Right now, I am in Penang, Malaysia attending the 12th Penang Island Jazz Festival! Gathering from my experiences over the year, here are 10 tips to get the most out of a jazz festival:
1. Plan what shows to watch
Do you like swing or are you a Latin jazz fan? Do you dig piano trios or are into weird instrumentation? Figure out what you like and plan your schedule around the music you would enjoy the most. Besides that, also allow yourself to discover new acts in different styles.
2. Prepare for the weather
Are the performances going to be indoors or outdoors? Does it look like it will rain? Will it be cold at night? Be prepared for the weather. Some things that I recommend preparing:
- water-proof clothing
- comfortable durable shoes in case it gets wet
- extra clothes
- mosquito or insect repellent
3. Budget for CDs and Merch
Do you like listening to CDs? Do you enjoy cool music t-shirts? Allocate a budget for this. For some, this may not be essential but for others this may be a major part of the festival experience.
4. Pace yourself
You don’t have to attend every event. In fact, you may not be physically able to because of the timing of some events if they are at the same time. Remember to eat and nourish yourself during the festival. Consider planning when you will eat and scout the festival food to figure out what you would eat. I really recommend having healthy meals whenever possible.
5. Listen to the artists before the festival
Be curious and check out samples of the music for as many artists as you can before the festival.
6. Speak to the artists after the show
Like someone’s music? Go talk to them after the show. Tell them what you liked about it. Meeting the artists can be a great way to connect to a deeper level for the music.
Have a question about the music? Be brave and ask the artists directly if you get a chance. Most musicians are very happy to share if they have time. There’s no harm in asking! Go for it!
7. Attend workshops and prepare questions beforehand
If you’re a superfan, message the artist before and after the shows to connect. They may or may not reply but it’s worth a try! =)
8. Experience the city/town – the local life
In addition to the music, remember to explore the local surroundings of the festival to get a well-rounded experience. It’s not just about the music! Get a feel for the city or town while you’re there.
9. Keep yourself healthy
It’s easy to just eat snacks or fast food during a holiday. However, it’s not the best for your body. Remember to eat fresh food, fruits, drink juices, stay hydrated and rest well in between the events you’re attending. Sometimes a little nap or eating some fresh fruit can be what you need to survive the hectic festival schedule!
10. Keep an open mind
A festival is a wonderful opportunity to discover great music, new artists, make friends and party! If you’re a musician, workshop and jam sessions are fuel for musical improvement. For avid music fans, nothing beats the live music experience. Keep an open mind so that you can fully experience the festival. Expect a good time and awesome memories to attract positive experiences.
Hope you found this blog post helpful.
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Now, I’d love to hear from you.
Have you been to a jazz festival?
What’s your favorite tip and why?
Leave your answer in the comments below! Remember to share as much detail as possible so that we can all learn from one another. Your insight may help another musician from across the world.
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