International jazz musician Curtis Stigers has performed all over the world, but says he can’t wait to get on stage in Sidmouth and relax afterwards with a pint of real ale.

The award-winning American singer, songwriter and saxophonist will be the headline act on day one of the Sidmouth Jazz & Blues Festival, performing at Blackmore Gardens on the evening of Friday, May 26.

In a 31-year career he’s had several Top 10 hits, sold millions of albums and played to huge stadiums, opening shows for the likes of Elton John, Prince, Eric Clapton, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart and Bonnie Raitt.

Yet he’s full of enthusiasm at the prospect of performing for the relatively small audience at the Sidmouth’s second-ever Jazz & Blues Festival, and seeing something of the local area while he and his band are visiting.

“I love the idea,” he said. “I’m told it’s a beautiful part of the world, and I don’t just do this from the back of a tour bus, I have over the years developed a real love for seeing and living the places where I play. So that idea of spending a couple of days on the coast, smelling the sea air and eating fish and chips, sounds like a dream for me.

“I haven’t planned what I’m going to do, but I’m sure there’ll be a pint or two involved. We always like to sample the local drink and I’m a big fan of British ale.”

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As for the concert itself, ticket-buyers can look forward to hearing Curtis’s big hits from the 90s including ‘I Wonder Why’ and ‘You’re All that Matters to Me’, as well as some newer material. The show is based around his latest album, This Life, which is described as ‘a celebration of musical exploration, evolution and growth’, and features reworkings of his well-known classics.

He said: “That album is sort of like a concert, a Curtis Stigers show. What I’ve done is recorded some of the songs people know me for, and songs I’ve continued to play in my older days as a jazz musician.

‘I Wonder Why’ and ‘You’re All that Matters to Me’ didn’t sound like this back then -  they sounded like big early-90s pop stuff - and we play them more intimately.

“I like to play those songs, I just play them the way I sound now, the songs have evolved and grown older the same way I have.”

As for the size of the Sidmouth audience, Curtis said that is ideal for the way he likes to perform.

“I’ve played everything from little clubs to stadiums and I prefer something less than 1,000 people … there’s something about being really close to the audience and being able to communicate with them. That’s my whole purpose on stage- to tell stories with songs, and I like being there with the audience as opposed to being far away from them.

“Each song for me is like a short story or a play or a little movie, I look at songs that way, they tell a story the same way a good film does.”

For more information about the Sidmouth Jazz & Blues Festival and to book tickets, visit