The second half of September sees two of the main small festivals in Scotland, the ones in Islay and Lockerbie, take place. Although the exact format of the two events is different, they both manage to create something of a community spirit over the weekends they take place.

Islay Jazz Festival, Friday 14th to Sunday 16th September

The Islay Jazz Festival sees musicians from Scotland and the rest of the world play at venues all over the island, sometimes in established groups and sometimes in less familiar combinations. There’s frequently a strong Scandinavian presence, and this year is no exception.

It’s also the only festival I know of where one of the gigs is preceded by the opportunity to take part in a guided birdwatching walk.

Among this year’s performers are

  • The Neil Cowley Trio
  • Mario Caribé
  • Swedish singer Miriam Aida
  • Swedish alto player Fredrik Kronkvist
  • Lorna Reid
  • Laura MacDonald
  • Swedish pianist Martin Sjöstedt
  • Konrad Wiszniewski
  • Vibist Pascal Schumacher
  • Keith Nichols
  • Brian Kellock
  • Saxophonist Michael Buckley
  • Colin Steele
  • David Milligan

This video of last year’s festival might give some idea of the event’s distinctive atmosphere. It makes much mention of the festival’s sponsors, Lagavulin whisky, so in the interests of fairness I’d better point out that other Islay single malts are available.

Lockerbie Jazz Festival, Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th September

The Lockerbie Festival consists of five formal concerts, a church service with the Glasgow Gospel Choir and a mini-festival, Take 5, which offers an remarkable range of performers for only £5.

The concerts are by

  • The Lairds of Dixieland
  • Evan Christopher’s Django a la Creole
  • The Otis Grand Blues Combo
  • Nova Scotia Jazz Band
  • Stephanie Trick, a young American pianist specialising in stride, ragtime and boogie woogie

However, it’s really the Take 5 event which sets Lockerbie apart from other festivals. On Saturday afternoon, from 12 noon to 5pm, Lockerbie Town Hall hosts five hours of live music from a mixture of international performers and young local talent. The big names include keyboard player Darius Brubeck (Dave’s son), the excellent New York pianist David Berkman, Laura MacDonald, Stephanie Trick and top Scottish blues band Blues ‘N Trouble. Local input includes the Dumfries Youth Jazz Orchestra, Kilts Wi Hae (a small group of Dumfries Youth Jazz players who won the Under-17 category in this year’s Yamaha Jazz Experience competition), Caturbhyas (who include tenor player Scott Murphy, originally from Dumfries, and pianist Ustav Lal) and blues band The Wise Guys. All that for only £5 – or absolutely free for school age children accompanied by a paying adult.