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Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra
Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra
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Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra roll up in Blackpool later this month, and from today the public can enter a ballot for tickets to the free, televised show.

The Radio 2 broadcaster and host of BBC 2’s long-running Later… with Jools Holland music show brings his band to the Empress Ballroom on Wednesday, June 24 for a concert being broadcast on BBC 4 in July.

Jools’ Big Band Special will see the former Squeeze keyboard player joined by special guests for a one-off gig, taking the audience through his personal view of the genre and giving an insight into Big Band greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton.

Jools, who filmed at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom 30 years ago for Channel 4’s cult music show The Tube, said: “I’ve always been a fan of Big Band music and think this is a great way to take the music genre to a wider audience.

“We are going to have one big party, and I’m looking forward to playing at the iconic Empress Ballroom, which is steeped in music history.”

The charismatic Londoner will also make Blackpool his home over the next month while filming a documentary to coincide with the performance.

We are going to have one big party, and I’m looking forward to playing at the iconic Empress Ballroom, which is steeped in music history

In a separate BBC 2 documentary, Strictly Come Dancing’s Len Goodman and historian Lucy Worsley join Jools to explore how Big Band music helped keep the nation’s spirits up during the Second World War, also delving into fashion and dance crazes.

BBC England director Peter Salmon said: “Blackpool played an influential part in the Big Band era and has always been a mecca for dancing and music.

“Having Jools here to celebrate in the town is fantastic. It will be a Blackpool night to remember and one the whole country will be able to enjoy again when it airs.”

Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s deputy leader, added: “I’m delighted the council and the Winter Gardens have been able to help the BBC hold a free concert of this magnitude.

“So many people will have memories of travelling to Blackpool to watch Big Bands.

“Blackpool has a long, proud tradition of hosting Big Band stars and I’m sure the Empress Ballroom concert will be a great occasion.

“I look forward to welcoming Jools Holland and the BBC to town as they explore the history of Big Band music.”

Go to www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/shows/big_band_jools_24jun15 for a chance to attend.

• For a Malcolm Wyatt interview with Jools Holland, including reminiscences of the pianist’s visits to the county see next Thursday’s Lancashire Evening Post .