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FESTIVAL

Tickets on sale for Montreux Jazz 50th birthday bash

Folk rock icon Neil Young will top the bill at this year's Montreux Jazz Festival, as its celebrates its 50th edition with other big names including Deep Purple and PJ Harvey, organizers said on Thursday.

Tickets on sale for Montreux Jazz 50th birthday bash
Montreux Jazz celebrates its 50th edition this year. File photo: Jean Christophe Bott/Pool/AFP

The programme for this year's festival, which kicks off on the evening of June 30th and runs through July 16th, “has been drawn up to echo the festival's layered history, dense and lively,” festival director Mathieu Jatton told reporters.
   
Speaking in the Swiss town of Montreux, on the shores of Lake Geneva, Jatton said the organisers had strived for the anniversary edition to “return to the festival's true values.”
   
“We are thus presenting today's big names, but also friends of the festival who have helped make it great,” he said.
   
Montreux has over the past half century become a magnet for big names of the music business and rising stars alike.
   
It has retained its jazz label despite dramatically expanding its repertoire over the years.
   
This year, Canadian singer-songwriter legend Neil Young will be one of the top attractions when he hits the main stage on July 12th, 15 years after his only previous appearance at the festival.
   
Describing him as the “godfather of the punk movement, then of grunge”, organizers hailed Young as “a truly monumental figure on the music scene.”
   
He is joined on the marquee by other industry giants like British experimental rocker PJ Harvey, who is set to release a widely anticipated new album on Friday, and US punk icon Patti Smith.

Funky Claude

The 2016 edition will also feature US rock band ZZ Top, with their recognizable long beards, and Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison.
   
Legendary American producer and composer Quincy Jones will also be there, as will British soul and pop band Simply Red and archetypal guitar hero Carlos Santana.
   
Also on the ticket is influential English hard rock band Deep Purple, who have a deep connection to the festival.
   
The band's iconic “Smoke on the Water” tells the story of a fire that took place during a Frank Zappa concert at Montreux in 1971.
   
Festival founder Claude Nobs, who died in 2013, rescued a number of people from the flames and was immortalised in the song as “Funky Claude”.
   
Fans of the festival's original jazz genre should not be disappointed either, thanks to performances by stars like American jazz musician Charles Lloyd, who headlined the first ever edition of the festival in 1967.
   
Legendary jazz pianist Monty Alexander will also be there, as will Alfredo Rodriguez, a Cuban Quincy Jones prodigy considered the new prince of piano jazz.
   
“This anniversary is the occasion to underscore what drives the Festival: an insatiable desire to 'be there', up close and personal, under the spell of music,” the organizers said in a statement.

Tickets go on sale today, Friday April 15th, at 10am. For more information visit the festival website.

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FESTIVAL

Basel Tattoo: What you need to know about Switzerland’s biggest military music festival

Basel Tattoo kicks off today, running until 20 July in the north-western Swiss city. But what is it? And why do Scottish bagpipers show up every year?

Basel Tattoo: What you need to know about Switzerland’s biggest military music festival
Photo: Basel Tattoo
What is it? 
 
Basel Tattoo is a show and parade bringing together military music bands from around the world.
 
How did it start? 
 
Organizers had the idea for the event after a Basel-based military band performed several times at the Edinburgh Tattoo, the world’s most famous event of its kind. The first edition of Basel Tattoo was held in 2006, attracting an impressive 38,000 people to the courtyard of a military barracks in Kleinbasel.  
 
So it’s a big deal? 
 
It is now. These days it’s sponsored by the Swiss federal defense department and over the years has become bigger and bolder, attracting more than one million spectators over all its shows. More than 60,000 tickets have been sold to this year's shows so far.
 
What happens during the Tattoo? 
 
The daily two-hour show includes around 1,000 participants from all over the world. This year’s event features the Hellenic Navy Band from Greece, dancers and acrobats from China, a police motorcycle acrobatic troupe from Germany and a Dutch orchestra. And of course, given its Scottish links, spectators will also enjoy music from ‘bagrock’ band the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, the International Highland Dancers and The Massed Pipes and Drums, a marching band formed of 200 players from around the world, an annual highlight of the show. Add to that an appearance from America’s Got Talent contestant Johnny Manuel and you can’t say Basel Tattoo doesn’t offer something for everyone. 
 
Photo: Basel Tattoo
 
What else goes on? 
 
Each year the Tattoo also stages a parade through the streets of Basel, featuring the international marching bands who are part of The Massed Pipes and Drums, along with other groups. This year’s parade takes place on Saturday 13 July from 2pm and includes pipers and drummers from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the UK, South Africa, Canada and several other countries, as well as local groups from Basel and elsewhere in Switzerland.
 
Worth a visit? 
 
Absolutely, though you’ll be one of a large crowd – some 120,000 spectators are expected to turn out for the parade. After all, Basel residents are quite partial to a spot of marching – each year there are several parades as part of the Fasnacht festival, when people even drag themselves out of bed at 4am for a night-time parade. 
 
Anything else going on? 
 
Kids will love paying a visit to the military barracks on 20 July for the Children’s Day, when they can meet some of the pipers and dancers, ask questions and try out musical instruments. Best of all, it’s free.
 
How do I buy tickets for the show?
 
Find out more about the event and buy your tickets here.
 
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