SIX-time Grammy Award-winning US drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts is coming to Wangaratta.
Watts and Italian trumpet and flugelhorn maestro Enrico Rava will head an international contingent of artists bound for the 25th Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues.
More than 300 musicians will perform in 80 concerts on the main program.
Another 30 free concerts will be held on an outdoor stage.
Artist talks and masterclasses will also be held during the four-day event, from October 31 to November 3, on the pre-Melbourne Cup Day long weekend.
The program will feature Australian debuts, premiere collaborations and improvisations as well as the return of some of the artists who have featured previously in the past 25 festivals.
Artistic director Adrian Jackson said no one would have imagined the festival would reach its 25-year landmark when it began as a relatively modest but ambitious event in 1990.
“The fact that we have made it this far is due to the incredible support the festival has received from the local community,” Mr Jackson said.
He said it had been embraced enthusiastically by musicians and music lovers.
Mr Jackson said the Australian talent line-up ranged from bands making their Wangaratta first-timers to established names and regulars, and some such as Paul Grabowsky, Mike Nock, Tony Gould, Bob Sedergreen, Allan Browne, Niko Schauble and Steve Grant who were there in 1990.
The blues program will be headlined by US Blues Hall of Fame member guitarist Joe Louis Walker and virtuoso harmonica and didgeridoo player Harper, who moved from Australia to the US a decade ago.
“We have a strong component of international artists coming this year,” Mr Jackson said.
“Among them are several expatriate Australians like Lisa Parrott, Harper, Troy Roberts and Sarah McKenzie.
“I think this festival is the perfect place for them to showcase how they have grown as artists in their time overseas.”
See Thursday’s Play entertainment guide for a run-down of this year’s festival artists.