Dixieland is the music of the southern states of the USA. That was where jazz syncopations were first heard more than 100 years ago. The music of New Orleans evolved from blues, gospel, ragtime, marching music, African and other influences. It was characterised by riotous improvisation.
Jazz spread rapidly via Memphis to New York and Chicago before bridging the Atlantic and making a triumphal arrival in Europe. Always adaptable, always new, always exciting.
After the Second World War, jazz experienced a revival in Europe – and Dresden became its capital.
It was here in 1971 that the first International Dixieland Festival was held. The event was an instant hit, with long queues of people waiting to purchase tickets in the early days. In 1978, visitor numbers outstripped those for the state-organised May Day celebrations for the first time.
Since then, the festival has become the largest of its kind in Europe – with nowhere else offering as much jazz as this. In the history of the festival, more than 1,000 bands have appeared on stage, and total ticket sales have exceeded seven million.
This year, no fewer than 230 musicians will be performing over the eight days of the festival on 50 stages, some large and some small, producing a grand total of 186 hours of music.
As always, the curtain-raiser will be hosted by Dresden Zoo: the opening concert there on 19th May – Dixieland in the Family – will be headlined by The Busquitos and The Swinging Bluebirds.
The Dixieland ABC for Children interactive revue is as much a part of the programme as the Riverboat Shuffle when bands perform on board paddle steamers.