City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Crowds Descend on Grassmarket For Jazz Fest Mardi Gras


By edg - Posted on 23 July 2011

Jazz Fest 2011: Dancing ladies

The crowds were out for the Edinburgh Jazz Festival Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket today. After weeks of overcast, wet weather, and the recent deluge that, in Morningside, saw flash floods washing cars down the road and pedestrians wading waist-deep up the street, the festival organisers must have breathed a collective sigh of relief that the event was not another wash-out.

In fact, they couldn't have asked for better weather: glorious blue skies and warm sunshine ensured that the annual free street party in the Grassmarket was swinging from start to finish.

Edinburgh Jazz Festival stalwarts the Criterion Band, led the way, fronted by New Orleans style sashaying ladies with brollies. The procession, including the Lord and Lady Provost, wound its way past photo-snapping crowds from the City Chambers along the High Steet, and down Victoria street with throngs leaning over the balcony on the upper street level.

As well as the brassy blasts of trad jazz, the air throbbed to the drums of an orange-clad samba  band.

The procession arrived at the Grassmarket. After a few formalities – including an obligatory speech from the Lord Provost – the jazz and beer flowed. Crowds thronged into the Grassmarket area thorughout the afternoon, packing the expanded paved terrace in front of pubs and cafes. Some locals even had set up their own tables and picniced.

Amazing what difference the weather makes. I'm not usually much of a fan of trad jazz, but with the sun blazing today it seemed somehow less out-of-place than when I've heard it on previous cool Edinburgh afternoons. The musicians themselves seemed to play with fresh vigour and delight. No doubt, the good weather also helped them keep their instruments in tune.

For the crowds, the music all ended too soon. We were listening to a catchy R&B set by The Rosy Blue Band (featuring an impressive lead guitarist), when it was abruptly shortened due to time restrictions. The crowd didn't want to let them go.

Hopefully, the organisers collected sufficient donations to ensure the free event goes ahead next year too and longer than the 4pm-ish end-point.

The Jazz Festival, which started yesterday (22 July), sees 90 concerts taking place over ten days in Edinburgh, from bluesman Robert Cray to an Edinburgh Schools big band.

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The 'orange-clad salsa band', are not in fact salsa but samba! And are the Edinburgh Samba School. www.edinburghsambaschool.org.uk.

Yes, of course. Brain was half-on at the time. Too much sun or something. Thanks for posting... I've changed it