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A warm welcome to Jill Rodger of the Glasgow Jazz Festival

jill rodger

The 2015 Glasgow Jazz Festival ended on a high note with a 20% increase on ticket sales. Far from resting on their weary laurels, planning has already begun for 2016 when the festival celebrates its 30th edition. We grabbed a quick natter with the festival’s indefatigable director, Jill Rodger, about how she came to be involved. Over to Jill…

In 1989  I was working in admin in the whisky industry when a good pal said there was an admin job coming up at the Jazzfest. Jazz? I knew nothing about it other than Miles Davis’ Tutu and Amandla albums.

Northern soul, soul, post-punk, funk, Postcard were all my sort of music. I’d been going to gigs since I was 11 (well if you can count the Wombles at Glasgow Apollo in 1974).

My first “real” gig was Elton John at the Apollo in 1979 closely followed by Ian Dury and the Blockheads and then The Police….. I spent all my hard earned cash (50p an hour in the local café) on albums and gig tickets from then on.

The Apollo was the place to be, then Level 8 at Strathclyde University where I saw bands too numerous to mention (and probably too drunk on cheap beer to remember). Tiffanys, Nightmoves and Barrowlands were also favourites of mine.

Still, I got the Jazzfest job apparently because of my pretty damn impressive typing speed (Cheers Glasgow Tech!) and began in January 1990, the year of Glasgow City of Culture. And what an initiation! Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, BB King…twenty-six festivals later and I’m still here, and I’ve programmed the last 11.

My memorable moments?

Taking George Benson shopping in Dorothy Perkins.

Taking Jimmy Smith shopping in Slater’s after the airline who were sponsoring his gig lost all his luggage. He was not a happy bunny.

Running out to a late night chemist in Great Western Road to get some medicine for BB King while he was on stage.

Tony Bennett performing in George Square to five thousand people who paid a fiver.  I’ll always remember the moment he came on stage, his face as he looked out at the crowd, and they loved him.


After I planted a kiss on George Melly’s cheek, he said to me, ““Thank you very much my dear.  That was absolutely lovely – but I was actually bringing my hearing aid closer to you to hear what you were saying!”

Helping to discover and being part of the first ever gig at the Old Fruitmarket – Jools Holland in 1993.

Most asked question? “What’s the strangest rider request you’ve had?” Too many to mention but most memorable was – Dialysis. I won’t reveal who, but we delivered!

Now we’re starting work on getting funding for and programming the 30th edition in 2016. Watch this space!

For information on the Glasgow Jazz Festival:

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