After an online festival last summer, the Birchfield Jazz Festival was back this year as an in-person event at St Mary’s Church, Handsworth on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th July. Organised by Kate Luxmoore and Lekan Babalola, and supported by Birchfield Big Local, the festival was well attended. There were brilliant performances on both days, many involving young local musicians mentored by Kate and Lekan. On the Saturday, performances included a duo on steelpans by the Mighty Jamma and son Jamani who have taken the steelpan to a new level of excellence with a range and versatility that includes Jazz, Reggae, Gospel, Rap and R&B. Master percussionist and twice Grammy award winner, Lekan Babalola performed the Journey of the Drum with a stellar array of Birmingham and international talent including Kate Luxmoore and BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2018, Xhosa Cole.
Communities Engage and Thrive CIC and Impact 4 Life brought along their latest acquisition – a mobile bar with smoothie bikes to make nutritious fruit-based smoothies. Artists Scylla Magda and Sophie Handy ran a workshop making lanterns from glass jars to promote the Birchfield Light Night event scheduled for 28 – 30 October. There were also displays from Creative Civic Change including photographs of Welsh House Farm and Birchfield by Vanley Burke and an exhibition of old photographs of Birchfield provided by local historian Tom Clements.