Remembering the Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival
2010 -2014

For a number of years this was the official website for the Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival which brought music, fun and entertainment to the historic quayside quarter of Plymouth, UK. They presented fantastic FREE live music. This was their website.
With a break in 2013 when they did not have the funding, content is from the site's 2010 - 2014 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.
A note from the festival director at the end of the 2014 festival announced that they would be unable to hold the festival in 2015 again due to lack of funding.

Enjoy this nostalgic look back at the Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival.


A reminiscence:
I well remember the 2012 Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival. I can still list the groups that preformed:
• LUES CRUISE with harmonica and guitar men Johnny Mars & Michael Roach, with support from Thomas Ford
• JAZZ CRUISE with gypsy jazzers Hamer & Isaacs, and free G&T;, sponsored by Plymouth Gin
• Son of Dave, beatbox blues mayhem with Rambunctious Social Club’s DJ Hod’guez supporting
• Mama Tokus soul-gospel-blues-comedy at The B-Bar
• Becky Brine and the Threadbearz, at Plymouth Gin, playing dancefloor filling swing
• Maggie Reeday, at Plymouth Gin, paying tribute to Louis Armstrong & Velma Middleton

It was the year that my brother started to drink heavily. I think back and wonder if his drinking started because of his tours in Iraq or the anticpating of a next tour in Afghanistan. By the time he returned home, his drinking had become worse.

Just as Covid hit the US I finally convinced him that he needed to get some help. He turned down the idea of AA and going into rehad. He said he would not start a program that labeled him with a disease and stigmatize him as an alcohlic AND would require he abstain from drinking for the rest of his life. No way. No how. I did some heavy research into drugs that help reduce alcohol cravings and discovered several. Some make you sick if you drink, others like Naltrexone are a habit-breaking, FDA-approved medication that targets Alcohol Use Disorder by disabling the reward circuit associated with consuming alcohol. BUT you have to take it 2 hours before you start drinking. I finally came across the drug, Baclofen, a FDA-approved medication traditionally used to treat muscle spasms which is being used off lable since one of its side-effects is it helps drinkers suppress alcohol cravings. The use of Baclofen is a treatment for AUD promoted in both in France and Australia with success.

I then came upon a website that offers a program suing either Baclofen or Naltrexone. My brother was eligible for either. He chose Baclofen. Luckily he didn't get any severe side effects that often result in people stopping its use. My nbrother was hyped when he learned he could continue drinking, which surprised me that drinking was allowed. Appearently, Baclofen stimulate the brain’s GABA receptors stopping the brain from craving alcohol and has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties. Anxiety disorders are very strongly associated with excessive drinking, and the co-occurrence of anxiety and Alcohol Use Disorder is remarkably common. Baclofen also relieved my brother's PTSD which was a secondary positive. It's been almost 4 years since my brother started the LifeBAC program. He could be a poster boy for their approach. They helped him make drinking a choice not a habit or out of control need. We are planning a trip to the EFG London Jazz Festival. It will be marking 30 years of the festival at the Barbican with live performances lined up from a host of exciting musicians from across the globe – in both our concert Hall and free performances in our foyer spaces. I'm so excited.


Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival 2010

Swing Sunday

We’ve created a whole day in our Festival to celebrate that foundation of jazz: Swing! We commemorate the famous names of swing with a packed day of free music and dance all over the Barbican.
Swing Sunday takes place on Sunday May 9 and is the climax to the Festival, with outdoor stages, bands and even dancers celebrating the wonderful legacy of swing music.

Look out for music on The Parade, the Mayflower Steps, at Queen Anne’s Battery and at the National Marine Aquarium.

We’ve teamed up with Plymouth dance teachers Mad About Swing, who will be staging their Big Weekend to coincide with our Festival, with taster swing dance lessons on Saturday May 8 with local teachers Duncan and Louise and UK Lindy Hop champions Gary and Sara Boon, a dance at Plymouth CityBus Social Club on Saturday night and outdoor dancing throughout Swing Sunday!


Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival 2011

New dates announced for 2011

The 2011 Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival will take place from April 29 through to May 2, we've just announced.

We'll be putting free music all over the historic quayside quarter  of our beautiful city of Plymouth, showing off the music talen we have in this city as well as bringing international musicians to perform here.

We will be linking venues and eateries in a network across the Barbican, spreading the Festival further and creating a great atmosphere for all the family and highlighting the heritage of the Barbican.


Look down the line-up to see where and when the music's happening during the Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival 2010 (all acts subject to change).

In the run-up to the Festival, you can pick up a printed brochure from Festival HQ at the B-bar on Castle Street, The Barbican, or call us on 0800 145 5838.

Plymouth Barbican International Jazz And Blues Festival 2011



2013 No Barbican International Jazz & Blues Festival this year

Our event will not be going ahead in 2013.

A lack of funding is behind the decision to put the event on ice this year.
Dan Thompson, whose company Kaos Production Ltd created, produced and invested heavily in the annual event, said that the event’s public funding had been pulled and therefore the Festival could not continue.
He said: “We’re sorry to say that we can’t put on our Festival in 2013 because we have no public funding, and that’s a real shame for The Barbican, for Plymouth and for the region.

“In half a decade, we’ve built a reputation for a quality event on the Waterfront that attracted visitors from beyond the city and across the Channel to enjoy what Plymouth has to offer. This year, that won’t happen.
“I hope to get something rolling for 2014, with aspirations for the City of Culture bid and beyond,” he said.
The Festival, which started life in the quayside quarter of Plymouth in 2008, raises income from ticket sales, advertising and sponsorship deals, but uses public money to place high quality free music shows on the streets of The Barbican.
The event attracts thousands of visitors to the Barbican each summer, presenting excellent live music on outdoor stages and within participating venues, creating vibrancy, colour and fun. It’s one of the city’s best loved, accessible music events.
Images of the Festival and its musicians are regularly used to illustrate Plymouth culture, displaying packed crowds of all ages enjoying the Barbican and its atmosphere.

Last year the Festival partnered with Plymouth’s Classic Boat Rally and the Port of Plymouth Regatta to make a July bonanza of boating and great sounds. Musicians were put afloat for ocean-going gigs, expanding the event’s reach into Plymouth Sound.
However, the Barbican will be a quieter place this summer without the Festival. Plymouth City Council, which had supported the event with funding since 2009, cannot continue the funding and promised funds from the newly-formed Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, have not materialized in time for an event in 2013.




Plymouth Blues & Jazz Festival

It’s BACK! After a break in 2013, the International Barbican Jazz & Blues Festival returns in 2014. This section will include details of each years Blues & Jazz Festivals, a sort of rolling history of this big event. I highly recommend people visit the festival an action packed week of music and events for everyone to enjoy.

A huge free music event for the public to enjoy bringing you some of the best names in Jazz and Blues, from local groups to international.

Plymouth Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival 2014

It’s back! Plymouth Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival Returns for 2014.

American musicians will be playing close to the Mayflower Steps at the Barbican International Jazz & Blues Festival 2014.

Mississippi blues guitar-man Robin Henkel will headline the event, which takes place from June 13-15 on The Barbican, close to where the Pilgrims left for the New World in 1620.

The Festival’s music programme is due to run between midday and 9pm on Friday and Saturday, midday to 7pm on the Sunday on an outdoor stage entertaining onlookers with excellent – and free  – music.

Robin Henkel guitar LORES

Robin Henkel

Robin Henkel will be joined by Ric Lee, award-winning drummer and descendant of Robert E. Lee, the head of the Confederate Army in the American Civil War. The pair will appear on Friday night at the Festival, performing vintage blues in front of the crowds  at this free outdoor event. They will be joined by South West-based soul-blues singer Mama Tokus.

“It’s great that we have got some Americans flying into play our event,” said Dan Thompson, Festival Director. “We’re showcasing two great American artforms: blues and jazz. It’s perfect that we’re welcoming musicians from across The Pond”.

Robin Henkel performs slide guitar and country blues drawing from the music and styles of  pioneers like Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell and Elmore James. He has performed with Jimmy Witherspoon, Lowell Fulson, Buddy Miles and Big Jay McNeely and he’s opened shows for BB
King, Dizzie Gillespie, Bonnie Raitt, Dr John and John Mayall.

Ric Lee has performed at the Festival before. In 2012 his band The Bayou Brothers stole the show when they whipped up the crowds with their infectious zydeco-blues – a Louisiana version of the blues, performed with accordion and rub-board. The Bayou Brothers won San Diego’s Best Blues Band award last year.

After meeting Ric at the Festival in 2012, Mama Tokus was invited to perform in California in May 2013 with Ric and Robin. Now the musical exchange continues as the guys fly this way across the Atlantic.

Other Festival highlights…

Robin and Ric join a series of headline acts that will excite audiences hungry for good music. As well as Robin Henkel, Friday night sees a performance by Dom Pipkin and the Iko’s – a riproaring New Orleans piano outfit.

Dom Pipkin & The Ikos

Dom Pipkin & The Ikos

The band brings the classic sound of New Orleans funk and R’n’B right into the 21st century, led by killer piano man Dom, who has appeared with Dr John, Zigaboo Modeliste (drummer with classic funkers The Meters), Eric Bibb, Pee Wee Ellis, Ray Davies and Paul Jones.

On early Saturday night we get Rabbit Foot – a raucous punk-rock-African blues two-piece from Brighton with guitar and tom-tom drums. This outfit was nominated for a British Blues Award last year and were London finalists in Hard Rock Café’s Battle of the Bands.

They are followed by Brassroots – a 7-piece East London-based brass-band and percussion outfit, fusing an eclectic collection of musical genres played by a group of international musicians with groove, energy and an incredible funkiness.



Brassroots have set stages ablaze from Ronnie Scott’s to Glastonbury, London Jazz Festival to Channel 4, Secret Garden Party and Bestival to WOMAD UK & Canarias, where 40,000 people on the streets of Las Palmas went nuts to their sound.

Excellent local musicians showcased

The Festival is also showcasing top local musicians in its programming. Opening the Festival is Singapore-born, Torpoint-resident guitar man Jimmy Appudurai-Chai – a blues guitar artist whose claim to fame was knocking the Beatles off the Number 1 spot in his home country in 1969.
You’ll see The Diehards – led by Plymouth slide blues supremo Thomas Ford, and infectious jump-jive boogie-woogie outfit The Roosters.

The Co-operative Big Band opens proceedings on Saturday lunchtime, playing a set of funk and fusion, then you’ll hear The Blow-Up, perfoming versions of soundtracks and cinematic jazz.

On Saturday night there will be a premiere of brand-new rhythm’n’blues outfit The Primitive Noise Band, fronted by superb songstress Becky Brine.

On Sunday, listen out for trad-jazz trombonist Roger Marks and his Armada Jazz Band and swing big-band The Solar System, fronted by Rat Pack-inspired Michael Campari.

The Festival is brought to a close by Company B, performing swing, jump-jive and wartime inspired rhythm’n’blues.

Fringe events springing up

Business and venues are catching Festival fever by staging gigs and related events.

There will be a stage outside Bacaro on The Parade, where blues and jazz music will be programmed throughout the weekend. There will be music in the arcade close to Parade Antiques, off Southside Street, with slide guitar man Thomas Ford there on Sunday June 15 from 1pm.

On Wednesday June 11, Plymouth restaurant Bistro One, on Ebrington Street, is staging a Louisiana Supper, with Robin Henkel, Ric Lee and Mama Tokus, where diners can experience Robin’s music and talk close-up, whilst eating a Southern US-inspired menu.

On Thursday night, the Plymouth Blues Society stages its first birthday party, in association with the Festival, where Vince Lee and the cream of Plymouth’s blues players will perform alongside Robin Henkel and Ric Lee.

And Sutton Harbour-based eatery the Dolphin Brazzerie will be staging themed meals. The Admiral MacBride pub, close to the Mayflower Steps will also be hosting performances, as will Café Kiss on Bretonside.


Barbican International Jazz & Blues Festival 2014

Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival 2014

Friday 13th to Sunday 15th June 2014
The Barbican, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2NX, England

The Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival 2014 will be bringing excellent music, fun and entertainment to the historic quayside quarter of Plymouth from Friday 13th until Sunday 15th June 2014.


Friday: Jimmy Appudurai-chua & Steve Whiteway, The Roosters, The Diehards, Solitaire du Figaro, Robin Henkel & guests, Dom & The Iko's

Saturday: The Co-operative Big Band, The Blow-Up, Primitive Noise Band, Rabbit Foot, Brassroots

Sunday: Jade Gall, Roger Marks & his Armada Jazz Band, Michael Campari & The Solar System, Company B

Free live music begins on the Festival's outdoor stage at 12noon each day.


This event does not have camping but there are a number of hotels, hostels and guest houses in the area.

More info

This year the event presents free live music alongside the international yacht race the Solitaire du Figaro.


The Acts

Slide Mississippi Blues from Robin Henkel, from San Diego, California
Playing sounds influenced by Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell and Elmore James on Friday night

For more details, visit

Award-winning drummer and Bayou Brother Ric Lee, from San Diego, California
joining Robin on Friday night

For more details, visit

Dom Pipkin & The Iko's - playing classic New Orleans funk and blues
Climax to Friday night's events

For more details, visit

Rabbit Foot - punk rock blues from Brighton - performing Saturday
For more details, visit

Brassroots - headlining Saturday night at the Festival

Brass Roots is a 7-piece East London-based brass-band and percussion outfit, fusing an eclectic collection of musical genres played by a group of international musicians with groove, energy and an incredible funkiness.



Hey music lovers!
If you're feeling generous and think you could help the Festival, please click to give.
Whether you've got a spare fiver or a spare five thousand, we'll take it!
In return, you'll get great music from local, national and international artistes, and the knowledge that you're helping this wonderful event bring colour and entertainment to Plymouth's Barbican.
Thank you kindly.



A very big thank you

Dear friends

After much deliberation I have had to make the tough decision that our lovely festival will not be happening this year. (2015)
I thought I should let you all know as soon as possible, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting us over the last 6 years.

I think it is fair to say we have had some fun, we have had the pleasure of programing some fantastic acts, local, national and international; we have created some fantastic collaboration’s and had the honor meeting many of you on the dance floor in front of the stage.

It has been wonderful for all the festival team to watch young and old participate and i can say I truly feel proud at what we all created together.

So for now, it’s good by and a big big thank you.

Dan Thompson
Festival Director

The Barbican International Jazz & Blues was a creation of Kaos Production Ltd


And later in 2016 on the festival's Facebook

April 21, 2016

Important to know

Dear Friends

It has come to our attention that the local paper has been putting in many articles that the annual Jazz and Blues festival is returning for the Transat yacht race this year.

We would like to make it perfectly clear that any entertainment put on this year 2016 is nothing to do with ourselves. We feel it is important to point this fact out as we made a lot of friends over the past 8 years with audiences and bands alike, we worked hard to introduce new audiences to great quality Jazz and Blues and feel that we always gave this beautiful city of ours the best we could creating a vibrant waterfront city.
Our love for great music has not diminished and we hope that the entertainment that is put on for possibly one of the greatest races on out planet radiates our city well to the global audience that Transat will attract, and entertain well the many local enthusiastic supporters that we have grown up with over the past eight years

Yours faithful
Dan Thompson
Festival Director