JAZZ LOVERS: Melany McCoy and Lorne Simmons from Island View Holiday Park stand either side of Greg Standen and jazz musician Rodger Fox at last year’s inaugural jazz and blues festival. Photo supplied

WITH planning well in hand for the upcoming Island View Jazz and Blues Festival in Waiotahe, production manager Greg Standen says Eastern Bay of Plenty music lovers are in for a unique treat.

With top acts booked to appear at the festival including the Rodger Fox Funkbone Experience Band, Paul Ubana Jones and Australia’s Isaiah B Brunt, Greg says the production team has built on the success of last year’s inaugural event and has a bigger line-up planned for 2019.

“We’re really excited,” Greg says. “It’s a unique event for our part of the country. There’s a bigger jazz and blues festival held in Tauranga, but our aim is to create a more intimate and up-close experience.”

The three-day festival which will be held on March 1-3, will again be staged in the grounds of the Island View Holiday Park at Waiotahe Beach.

An 18-years- or-over event, Greg says the festival was the brainchild of Island View Holiday Park owner Lorne Simmons, the same man responsible for the creation of Opotiki’s Lantern Festival – taking place this weekend.

That festival also made its debut in the grounds of the Island View Holiday Park several years ago before popularity of the event forced its move from the park and into Opotiki.

“Lorne’s an entrepreneurial character and also a lover of jazz and blues. He’s very keen to create special events in the Eastern Bay,” Greg says. “The region is stunningly beautiful with great locations and I think we really need these sorts of things happening here.”

Referring to himself as a “kind of weekend musician,” Greg – also known as Detective Senior Sergeant Standen, Eastern Bay Police investigations manager – is, in fact, an acoustic guitarist and vocalist who both performs covers and writes and performs his own compositions.

With his own passion for event management, it appears he and Lorne have formed a strong part of the team aiming to make the Jazz and Blues Festival an annual event, and an ever-growing one.

Tickets and information can be found at www.islandviewjazzblues.com or on Facebook.