Kai Hoffman (2021 Herne Bay Jazz and Swing Festival, 20-22 August)

On 20-22 August 2021, the Herne Bay Jazz and Swing Festival will take place on the beautiful east Kent coast.

The 2019 Herne Bay Festival. Photo credit Chris Huning

This fourth festival features their biggest lineup ever and includes some of the U.K.’s finest, including names like Strictly Come Dancing star Tommy Blaize / Ian Shaw / Louise Cookman with Peter Long Orchestra / Enrico Tomasso / John Etheridge Organ Trio / Juliet Kelly / Rachael Cohen / Kai Hoffman / Eliane Correa y La Evolución / Geoff Mason / Kent Youth Jazz Orchestra / Java Jam / The Native Oysters / The Daisy Bowlers / Perry White / Roan Kearsey-Lawson and more.

Taking place in venues across the town including The King’s Hall, The Pier and The Herne Bay Museum, the programme presents many FREE and affordable events. All details are also available on the website – link below. Interview with Festival Director Kai Hoffman by Sebastian.

Kai Hoffman. Photo credit: Chris Huning

LondonJazz News: Kai you are one of those “if you want something done ask a busy person” kind of people, right? 

Kai Hoffman: Ha, yes indeed. I am not very good at doing nothing. I have hardly any free time between all of my different commitments and- although it occasionally drives me nearly over the edge – I’m much happier this way. No time like the present..  

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LJN: What have been the challenges in getting this year’s festival off the ground

KH: Erm, what hasn’t been a challenge. “Hey, let’s go and plan a three-day jazz festival in the middle of a pandemic! Brilliant!” I had my first meetings with venues and sponsors back in October 2020, and kept on plugging away through the lockdowns and regulation changes, hoping against hope that we might be able to – at the very least – keep all of the outdoor events. I specifically chose venues that could go ahead with or without limitations on numbers – so we have a large concert hall, an outdoor roof stage and of course Herne Bay Pier stage. So that was a challenge.

Finding sponsors was a challenge as well due to the economic climate but I have managed to secure the funds I needed with a combination of different sources (Herne Bay Festival Charity, Canterbury City Council, Beach Creative Arts Centre, Jubilee Books, a number of local businesses and a funding raising concert – which was, by the way, cancelled three times previously because of lockdowns…); I was also extremely lucky to have the Peter Long Orchestra funded separately as big bands are not cheap! I decided not to add smaller venues as most of them were shut until recently (bars, restaurants etc) and with the numbers’ restrictions it felt too risky to try. Also, I would need to grow a clone to get all the admin done!

To be honest, there continue to be numerous challenges, but I am excited to be able to offer this fantastic weekend in a month’s time. Nearly there! 

LJN: But you have gone and decided to make it BIGGER this year…???!!! 

KH: Ah, yeah. Who’s idea was that?! I will blame my own naivety for thinking it would be a simple job to expand from six hours of festival at one location to thirty-two hours at three locations… and I am proud to say that virtually all of it is FREE to attend. We only have three ticketed shows, which at £15 per show, means you get 32 hours of jazz-related performance, films, late night DJ hangouts and the museum exhibition for £45 total. 

I guess I figured since we missed expanding in 2020 (& missed doing anything else) that it was a “do it while you can” kind of year this year.  I see it as a massive celebration of performers being back on stage; I wanted to get as many people involved as we could afford. And… it’s big! It’s as big as I, as an individual, could handle putting together without staff or a large five-figure grant.  

LJN: Who are the stars / headliners?

KH: This year I have selected artists from across the entire spectrum of what I feel classifies as “jazz”. We have everything from soul and blues from Strictly’s Tommy Blaize to the spectacular Cuban sounds from Latina pianist/arranger Eliane Correa y La Evolución . We have loads of fantastic headliners including Ian Shaw, Louise Cookman with Peter Long Orchestra, John Etheridge Organ Trio, Enrico Tomasso Swingtet, Juliet Kelly’s family show and more. 

Kai Hoffman (R) with Tina May at the 2018 Festival. Photo credit: Chris Huning

LJN: Will you perform as well as plan, fundraise and run the whole thing 

KH: Yes. It has been easy to forget that I’m on the program! Performing is the easy bit, as long as I’ve remembered to delegate the management side for a few hours here and there… [she says, calmly…!]

LJN: It will be FUN, right?! 

KH: HAHAHA! Thanks for the reminder, I needed that… And, yes, it will. There’s an excellent ice cream place in the ground floor of the King’s Hall opposite the sea (one of the main venues). Who could ask for more? 

LINKS: The full Herne Bay Jazz and Swing Festival press release is HERE


Festival Website

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