Who Needs Amy Winehouse?

Amy Winehouse has missed so many festival gigs this summer that it looks as if she’s trying to beat the number of no-shows Pete Doherty clocked up in 2006, but the Dutch seem to have found a way to get along without her.

Veteran bass player Marcus Miller, jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove and Dutch-based U.S. expatriate sax player Candy Dulfer teamed with New York turntable wizard DJ Logic to treat a North Sea Jazz audience to a version of Amy’s single "Rehab," after she’d made an eleventh-hour phone call – apparently on the way to catching her flight out of London – to cry off doing her slot at the Rotterdam festival.

Last month it was Krezip – a Dutch band from Tilburg – that stepped into the gap and treated the country’s Pinkpop Festival crowd to its own version of the same song after the clearly troubled lady failed to turn up for her slot.

The Dutch media seemed to enjoy everything about this year’s North Sea Jazz, with daily paper De Telegraaf giving it an almost biblical shout of adoration with a headline reading "Hosanna Op Tweede NSJ In Rotterdam" (Hosanna For Second NSJ In Rotterdam).

It wasn’t alone as De Volkskrant’s description of the "trompetfeest" that started the shows made it sound as if it was enough to bring down the walls of Jericho, while De Pers told its readers NSJ is "Toekomst van de jazz ligt in Europa" – "the future of jazz in Europe."

It’s as if the Dutch and Belgian media have suddenly conspired to tell the rest of the world just how great their festivals are.

Less than a month ago, Het Nieuwsblad led the Brussels papers in claiming Rock Werchter – the ILMC’s "Liggers’ Favourite Festival" – is the best contemporary outdoor in the world, and even had the UK’s the Guardian agreeing that it "gives Glastonbury a run for its money." And now the Dutch nationals are getting equally bullish about the country’s 30 plus-year-old jazz fest.

The message hasn’t been lost on the audience as Claudia Goossen of Mojo Concerts, the event’s marketing and communications manager, reported that the three-day crowd was about 5,000 up on last year’s 62,000.

Goossen says this year’s July 13-15 festival was easier to run because it’s the second time it’s been based at Rotterdam Ahoy, after moving from its old home in The Hague when the Netherlands Congress Centre was refurbished to accommodate the offices of the European wing of Interpol.

She also believes the audience quickly got used to the switch and this year’s figures suggest the event won’t be long in returning to being a regular 70,000 sellout.

The other international and mainly jazz luminaries helping Dutch music fans get over missing out on another Amy Winehouse show included Jamie Cullum, The Zawinul Syndicate, The Roots, Katie Melua, David Sanborn, Al Green, Snoop Dogg, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis, Steely Dan, Cinematic Orchestra, Gino Vannelli, Maceo Parker, Curtis Stigers, Randy Brecker Band, Chick Corea & Gary Burton, Sly and The Family Stone and Elvis Costello with Allen Toussaint’s band and horns.