Django Fest comes to Shrewsbury this October 12th - 15th offering the best in the world of gypsy jazz. Katy Rink caught up with organiser Chris Quinn - Shrewsbury’s own guitar legend! Pictured: Paulus Schäfer who will be appearing with the Paulus Schäfer Sextet.
If hot gypsy and swing are your thing, you’re in for a treat this weekend.
We have the very best gypsy jazz musicians in the world heading to Shrewsbury for Django Fest to celebrate Django Reinhardt and his musical legacy.
These guys are gypsy jazz royalty - the biggest names currently on the world stage - and it’s a chance to see them up close and personal in Prestfelde Theatre. They’re here to honour the music of great Romani-Belgian jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt who blazed a trail in European jazz in the 1930s and 40s with violinist Stéphane Grappelli, playing with the likes of Louise Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington.
Pictured: Mozes Rosenberg of the famous Rosenbergs - the first family of Gipsy Jazz
In the lineup for the Shrewsbury Django Fest is Mozes Rosenberg who was born (pretty much with a guitar in his hands) into the famous Rosenberg family, known as the first family of Gipsy Jazz. Mozes is the younger brother of Stochelo and nephew of Waso Grünholz, the founder of the Dutch sinti jazz style. His first TV appearance was aged seven with The Rosenberg Trio and he went on to become an outstanding solo guitarist in his own right, performing at many renowned international festivals.
Also appearing on Saturday night is the Paulus Schäfer Sextet. Paulus, like Mozes, is a fellow member of the Dutch Sinti-Romani community - home of Jimmy and Stochelo Rosenberg. He’s worked with both, replacing Jimmy as the leader of the band Gypsy Kids and going on to form the Paulus Schäfer Gipsy Band. He performs at international gypsy guitar festivals across the globe, selling out venues such as Carnegie Hall and The Town Hall, New York and teaching at workshops and retreats.
Opening for Mozes and Paulus on Saturday evening is British instrumental musician Clive Carroll with London based guitarist Dariush Kanani, a master of fingerstyle guitar; Clive has toured with John Renbourn and released four solo albums, as well as composing music for TV and film and could sell out gigs in his own right!
Pictured below: Shrewsbury guitar legend Chris Quinn and singer Francesca Confortini
Friday night sees fabulous offerings from the cream of British gypsy jazz - the Remi Harris Gypsy Jazz Trio and The Django Reinhardt Songbook - and Sunday’s offering is led by Dario Napoli Modern Manouche Project, with singer/songwriter and guitarist Chris Quinn, soulful session singer Francesca Confortini (who has sung with Yusuf Islam, Trio Manouche, Tarantola and more), premier violinist Christiaan Van Hemert and many more!
There are organised jams during the weekend too, at Glou Glou and The White Horse Pub, for guitarists of all standards who would like to play alongside the greats (ticket holders only).
The festival is organised by Shrewsbury’s own acoustic guitar legend and Chris Quinn, who has forged a stellar international career, touring with Paulus Schäfer and British gypsy jazz guitarist Robin Nolan, among others and enjoying a stint opening for the Jools Holland Orchestra. (Nolan, who was famously ‘discovered’ by George Harrison’s gardener, has recently been signed to Harrison’s label Dark Horse Records and is due to play at the Shrewsbury Django Fest in 2024)
Chris grew up in Shrewsbury, attending the Wakeman School and remembers busking on Pride Hill and gigging in the town’s pubs before hitting the big time. He also hosted rock musician Dan Owen at open mic nights at The Bull! Nowadays, Chris plays at major UK and international festivals and venues. He’s just back from the Port Erin Jazz Festival in the Isle of Man where he appeared as part of the Robin Nolan Trio and, in August, he played with Robin at the Mostar Gipsy Festival. Closer to home, you might have seen Chris in a solo gig at The Hive in September. He also teaches blues, folk, roots and gypsy jazz at the IGF Summer School and online via acousticmasterclass.com
Chris said: “I’ve been really lucky over the last decade to play with the world’s leading gypsy jazz musicians. It’s a style of music that I love. I was always a huge fan of hot swing jazz guitar. It’s my big passion in life.”
The Shrewsbury Django Fest grew out of masterclasses that Chris had been running with Paulus - it’s now in its third year. This year’s teaching hub will be at the Prince Rupert Hotel - which is hosting a four-day gypsy jazz masterclass retreat. Hundreds of guitar fans are expected to flock to Shrewsbury from across the globe for the festival and classes:
“If you’re in the audience, it’s a bit like watching Usain Bolt - the technique is literally the best in the world,” Chris explains. “Some of the most famous guitarists in the world come to watch these guys. They turn up and watch because they’re fans. It’s musicians’ music.
“When people come and they see it - they appreciate that they’re witnessing really great music. There’s a brilliant atmosphere. Modern jazz can be a bit jarry, but this is melodic and more mainstream. Often people who come also want to jam. They come with their gypsy jazz guitars, meet in the pub and all know the repertoire. It’s great fun!”
- Shrewsbury Django Fest takes place from October 13th - 15th, 2023. Concerts take place at Prestfelde Theatre, London Road SY2 6NZ.
- Full weekend tickets are £79 to include entry to all main concerts from Friday evening through to Sunday evening. Individual concert tickets available from £16.
- For the full lineup and tickets visit: www.shrewsburydjangofest.co.uk/tickets