Five surprising acts to catch at Edinburgh Jazz and Blues festival
New Orleans Swamp Donkey Traditional Jass Band

Crash the cymbals and blow the trumpets – Edinburgh’s festival season gets underway with the annual Jazz and Blues Festival this month

Before the August season sees the city descend into full festival hoop-la, July sees the Edinburgh Jazz Festival swings into town offering a vast array of jazz and blues talent from across the globe at multiple venues.

While the big names on this year’s bill speak for themselves (Jools Holland, Curtis Stigers and Average White Band to name a few) – there’s plenty of other acts out there that are well worth discovering.

Here are five acts that make our essential picks for this year’s festivities:

New Orleans Swamp Donkey Traditional Jass Band

A name that long was always going to stand out on the bill, but this five-piece more than back it up. The big brass sound of New Orleans makes for a great live show and the Swamp Donkeys dish it out with great authenticity. They mix their traditional sound with a modern spin, maybe shown most effectively in their above take on the Game Of Thrones theme tune that turned into something of a viral hit.

Friday July 15: City Art Centre, 2 Market St, EH1 1DE / more info

Alvin Youngblood Hart

It’s not just jazz, you know. Alvin Youngblood Hart is a Grammy-award winning blues man, who is more than comfortable firing his hands up and down the fretboard while wailing away in his soulful tones. A seasoned steady hand who should not be missed.

Friday July 15: Spiegeltent, George Square / more info

Grupo Fantasma

Once again proving that ‘jazz’ isn’t just one sound. Grupo Fantasma are a Latin funk band from Austin, Texas known for their frenetic live atmosphere. The group had the seal of His Royal Purpleness, performing as Prince’s backing band on several occasions as well as with members of the Wu-Tang Clan and Daniel Johnston. It’s bound to get sweaty in La Belle Angele this July.

Saturday July 16: La Belle Angele, 11 Hasties Close, EH1 1JD / more info

Amythyst Kiah

Some acts are nigh-on impossible to pin down to one genre and Amythyst Kiah is exactly that. The young artist from Tennessee strides between old-fashioned blues and gothic folk – using her impressive vocal range and musicianship to sell you on the entire package. Kiah feels like an act you should be catching now, before desperately trying to grab a ticket a few years down the line.

Monday July 18: City Art Centre, 2 Market St, EH1 1DE / more info

Cory Henry: The Revival

Armed with a Hammond B-3 Organ and whole lot of passion, Cory Henry is the bright young thing mixing traditional gospel and jazz with a modern twist. It’s all about audience interaction and getting lost in the groove.

Wednesday July 20: Speigeltent, George Square / more info

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival will be running July 15-24

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