Jennifer set to build on Bute links with jazz fest debut

Glasgow-based singer and songwriter Jennifer Andrew will be among the performers at the 2016 Isle of Bute Jazz Festival.
Glasgow-based singer and songwriter Jennifer Andrew will be among the performers at the 2016 Isle of Bute Jazz Festival.

Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Jennifer Andrew will establish another link to Bute to go along with long-standing family connections when she makes her debut at this year’s Isle of Bute Jazz Festival.

While Jennifer, appearing as lead singer in Jenny and the Jazz Cats, may be Glasgow born and bred, she has deep and long-standing family links to Bute.

Her mum Annette was born and brought up in Port Bannatyne, and Jennifer consequently spent most of her holidays visiting or staying with her Nana, Annie McMillan, who lived in Marine Road.

Jennifer’s great-great grandmother, Janet Alexander, née Beith Smith, grew up at Ettrick Smithy, and her grandfather, James Alexander McMillan, ran McMillan’s Boatslip in Port Bannatyne, renting out rowing boats with bait and line provided, to holidaymakers in busy Kames Bay.

A family business established in 1869 by James Alexander the first, Mr McMillan took over the business from his uncle, James Alexander the third, in 1963, and was ably matched by his hardworking wife Annie.

Mr McMillan, who was also a fisherman and a lover of new technologies, introduced boats with outboard engines alongside the collection of rowing boats. With over a dozen at any time, each boat was named after a flower, including the Snowdrop, Heatherbell, Thistle, and Primrose.

McMillan’s Boatslip operated until the late 1970s.

Jennifer, meanwhile, still has family on the island and loves to visit regularly - meaning she’s especially pleased to be performing with her band in Rothesay.

Her soaring vocals are full of depth and feeling and have led to comparisons with Barbara Dickson, Eddi Reader, and the contemporary folk singer Emily Smith.

One of her ‘feline friends’ is George Rodger on guitar, a well-known face at the Festival who is heavily involved in the Glasgow music scene, while her other ‘cat’, Hugh Gray on bass, is an accomplished musician and a gifted guitar and stringed instrument craftsman.

Other new names on the 2016 Bute jazz bill include another Glasgow singer and songwriter, Olivia Ennemoser, who sings in the Billie Holiday style and loves the melodies of songwriting greats such as George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and Larry Hart.

She will be accompanied at various times by Festival stalwarts Chris Clark on guitar and trumpeter, Robert Henderson.

Also appearing at the Bute event for the first time will be newcomers Swingology, from Liverpool, with their 1930s and 1940s toe-tapping Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli gypsy jazz, plus other popular jazz classics interspersed with modern or quirky songs.

Also here for the first time in six years is George Bennett’s Old Green River Band, where New Orleans meets rhythm and blues and old heads blend with young blood.

Weekend rover, day tickets and single session tickets can be bought online from www.butejazz.com or, if you’re on the island, by calling in at Brechin’s on Bridgend Street.