It’s been a few weeks since my last blog (okay months, as the CS towers command station exploded) and in this time I’ve been a busy fellow. I was fortunate enough to be asked to perform at the Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival. Now in its 8th year it has grown to give the well established Cork Jazz Festival a run for its money.
I was filling the drum chair for ‘The Jive Aces’, a super busy band who have performed at the festival for the last 7 years – and 2009 was bigger than ever.
The itinerary was set to be crazy (and got crazier as we went). We arrived a day before the official festival opening for a warm-up gig. The band traditionally play the ‘Gweedore bar’ on the Saturday but weren’t able to this time (more on that later) so we were squeezing in extra gig number 1. Because it was a Wednesday there were reservations about how busy it would be. However any initial fears were quashed, as the punters got squashed into every nook and cranny of this top Derry night-spot.
The festival was kicked off in fine form with the band swinging at full tilt and sweat dripping from the walls 😉
We squeezed a few photos shoots and a couple of radio sessions in between the many gigs. One live radio session was in Belfast and we were tight on time. As the last cymbal died out from an afternoons gig, we hot footed (or vanned as it were) from Derry to Belfast, fully aware that George Jones show finished at 5pm. At 4.45pm the band screeched to a halt in the studio car park and we were live on air at 4.50pm! Doing it in the proper old school way, the producer threw a few mics up; some live music, some chat, done – Jobs a good un’!!
Now, there was a slight ‘lump’ in the schedule….
A previous commitment in London on the Saturday night. Fine, but the Derry Festival ran till Sunday and we still had 2 (plus another, ‘extra’ after festival) gigs to do. So after a bit of car and plane shenanigans (involving the first 2 out of 4 airports we would see in 24 hours) we arrived to play the Variety Club International Convention at The Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. Great show, smiles all round.
Bish bash bosh, back to Derry on the Sunday for a banging (or rather Jivin’) gig in aid of Red Cross.
As well as the gigs which formed part of the festival we were also able to perform at Northern Irelands largest primary school, giving the children a chance to see some live music first hand. Due to the fine weather we had another first. The gig was held outside and it was the first time in the schools 20 year history that all 830 pupils had been at one event.
It seems that in Derry – ‘Everywhere we went, the kids wanna Jive!
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