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It seems like a parody of Corkonian civic pride to talk about how important the Jazz Weekend is to our city, but on several levels, this October Bank Holiday weekend truly is our time amid the bustle of Ireland’s glut of festivals: tens of thousands of revellers from all over the world will converge on a city whose cultural life is founded and built on community spirit, and earnestness of endeavour, from the Jazz committee down to the DIY promoters.
They’ll do so across dozens of venues in the city centre, and via sister programmes across West Cork, with literally hundreds of individual gigs happening from one end of the day to the other, in addition to photography exhibitions, workshops and family events (more info here).
The debates will rage as always regarding the definitions and parameters of a jazz festival, as the lineup becomes increasingly eclectic and new artists fall within its remit in greater numbers, but the simple fact is over the coming days, whether it’s the standards in the streets via the travelling bands, festival veterans in the Metropole or some of the world’s finest jazz artists in the Everyman Palace, the Jazz will always be the Jazz, and you can hang your straw hat on that.
But for the curious and adventurous among the deafening, swelling crowds, the Jazz Weekend’s real treasure can be found on the music trail, in the city’s dedicated venues and spaces, seizing the spotlight that the weekend places on the city and focusing it on our own artists, bands and DJs, proof positive of the city’s year-round rude health.
Narrowing down the Jazz to a few must-sees is a hard task, but this selection of gigs and clubs should provide a little of everything that the Jazz Weekend and Cork’s scene has to offer, from homegrown headliners to upcoming artists, plus a few other bits and pieces that come part and parcel of the weekend locally, including Fredz’ 20th anniversary and the Dragon of Shandon himself. See ye at the weekend.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 26TH:
No Covers @ The Friary (8.30pm, free)
Does what it says on the tin – a night of all-new tunes from Cork artists. This time around: Elaine Malone, Podge Lane and Nancy-Jane Bulfin take a go each at the city’s biggest little venue with their acoustics.
Zaska @ The Oliver Plunkett (10pm, free)
Impeccably-named funkman Max Zaska and his eponymously-monikered band of co-conspirators take on the downstairs bar at the usually-busy covers venue. Also playing Friday at 7.30pm in the same venue.
GOOD Music @ Cyprus Avenue (11pm, €5)
Stevie G and the GOOD Music residents are this week joined behind the wheels of mechanised steel by numbertheory (SESHFM), an increasingly regular appearance on hip-hop bills around the city.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 27TH:
Brian Deady & Paddy Casey @ Opera House (6pm, free)
The formal launch of the Jazz Weekend, the big open-air gig on Emmet Place this year sees Corkonian soul singer (and Nialler favourite) Brian Deady play a hometown gig in a double-headliner with singer-songwriter Paddy Casey, who is contractually obliged to play ‘Saints and Sinners’ at least once in his set.
Dónal Dineen & Automatic Tasty @ An Spailpín Fánach (6pm, €10)
Undoubtedly the alternative to the formal launch proceedings, the Fleece collective of house DJs and producers have pulled off a wee coup with this one: Irish music broadcasting legend Dónal Dineen is joined by Wicklow’s Automatic Tasty and Fleece residents on the decks.
Soulé @ Cyprus Avenue (7pm, €10)
Hot off the biggest debut year in recent history for any Irish artist, hip-hop/soul songwriter Soulé’s first Cork headline gig also sees her become one of the youngest festival headline artists in the forty-year history of the Jazz. Joined by Bad Bones, Rushes and Stevie G.
Gary Crosby’s Nu Troop & Sarah McKenzie @ Everyman Palace (8pm, €30)
The first of the Everyman Palace’s traditional double-headers of the Jazz weekend sees double-bassist Gary Crosby and his band cover Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue’ front-to-back for its sixtieth anniversary, and world-travelled vocalist/pianist Sarah McKenzie take the historic McCurtain Street stage.
Circuits of Heaven @ The Friary (9pm, free)
Kevin Power, formerly of indie/electronic trio Versives, has been writing and performing solo for a while now, and his first Jazz-weekend appearance under the pseudonym doubles as a launch gig for new E.P. ‘Songs for No-One’. Support from Buckley & McHale.
Undercurrent @ The Poor Relation @ 9pm (€7 before 11pm, €10)
Cosmonaut Music’s monthly electronic night is heavily stacked for the Jazz Weekend, with selectors including legendary DJ Don Rosco (PowerFM), jet-setting cratedigger T-Woc, Jesco, and RiseUp Sound System’s Jonezy.
Unkindness of Ravens @ Fred Zeppelin’s (9pm, free)
Also celebrating an anniversary this year: Cork metal mainstay Fred Zeppelin’s, the Parliament Street venue reaching its twentieth birthday. The celebration begins at the Jazz and goes on through November, starting with Slieve Bloom synth/doom crowd Unkindness of Ravens, joined by supports Crooked Edge, Archaos and Pretty Happy.
Darren Kelly @ The Bridge (9pm, free)
A brand-new venue on Bridge Street is a much-welcome addition to an area of town kept going by its characters and its public houses. Kicking off proceedings proper is ever-present Leeside disc-jock Darren Kelly, 9 ’til late.
Ben Sims @ Cyprus Avenue (11pm, €16)
London techno legend/Theory label curator mans the system upstairs in Cyprus Avenue for a midnight set, cutting between genres and across vinyl, CD and digital. Support from Bastardo Electrico’s Jamie Behan.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 28TH
Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO @ Crane Lane Theatre (2pm, free)
Time to re-enter orbit with the now-traditional Jazz Weekend appearance from Japanese psychedelic rock icons Acid Mothers’ Temple, this time in their improv-centric Melting Paraiso UFO incarnation. Also on at 10pm out West in Connolly’s of Leap, for those unable to get to the city.
Quangodelic @ The Old Oak (5.30, free)
Think of the shambling, roughshod appeal of something like a Corkonian take on Beefheart’s Magic Band, then imagine it as a fourteen-piece funk ensemble veering between funk standards (for the weekend that’s in it) and their own post-austerity social commentary. Also playing on Monday at 5.30.
Soothsayer @ Fred Zeppelin’s (6.30pm, €5)
Leeside metal collective PYRE’s additions to proceedings features a triple-bill of sludge, doom and general heft from Cork lads Soothsayer, signed to Indian metal imprint Transcending Obscurity. Support from Wolf Council and Slung from a Tree.
Booka Brass Band @ Cork Opera House (7pm, €20)
The big brass band with the big, chill sound are playing an early show after Saturday’s midnight engagement sold out fairly lively. This one’s looking like doing likewise (like), with support from Orchid Collective.
Nicholas Payton & Kenny Garrett Quintet @ Everyman Palace (8pm, €40)
In a frankly killer double-bill of jazz for the second night of proceedings at the Everyman Palace, saxophonist Kenny Garrett and his band headline alongside Nicholas Payton and the Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, providing a world-ranging array of sounds.
Get the Blessing @ Crane Lane Theatre (9pm, free)
Returning after a phenomenal 2015 appearance, trip-hop/jazz-rock ensemble Get the Blessing, when not touring with day-jobs like Radiohead, Portishead and Super Furry Animals, are sonic explorers of the Coleman variety, an influence apparent throughout their new work.
Kormac @ Cyprus Avenue (11.30pm, €12.50)
Much-loved Irish production/DJ veteran delivers a new audiovisual show that he’s succinctly referred to in the run-up as ‘absolute carnage’. Sounds like a winner.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 29TH
Dim the Lights @ SOMA (1pm, free)
Following a Friday night spectacular at the Roundy (kicking off at 9), the residents of a “slower, weirder” dance music night resume their first anniversary celebrations at SOMA, the recently-opened coffee house on Tuckey Street.
Shookrah @ The Old Oak (2pm, free)
Much-fancied prog/neo-soul smoothies take to the big stage downstairs at the Old Oak for an afternoon gig, part two of an engagement that also includes a 7pm show on Friday.
Notify @ Triskel Christchurch (3pm, €12)
Another in the current, modernising wave of young outfits working within the Irish folk/trad oeuvre, weaving it with layered electronics and subtle jazz, funk and pop influences.
Marlene Enright @ Electric (4pm, free)
Cork singer-songwriter takes time from a hectic post-album schedule to make an appearance for the Jazz at the South Mall restaurant. Also playing the same venue Friday at 5pm.
The Altered Hours @ St. Luke’s (7.30pm, €20)
Celebrating eight years together this month, Cork’s psych-rock/post-punk flagbearers play to their biggest house yet, and they’re not alone: Choice nominee Katie Kim and Spacemen 3/Spiritualised man Will Carruthers provide heavy-duty support. All tickets come with a free download of unheard Altered Hours audio.
The Bonk & Fixity @ The Roundy (9.30pm, €12)
The event to get to for more discerning jazz heads near and far: Dan Walsh and conspirators in Fixity have been making/improvising some of the most vital and eclectic music in the city, weaving in and out of the jazz idiom as they please. The Bonk, led by O Emperor’s Phil Christie, are no slouches either, launching new album ‘Seems to Be a Verb’, built on their adventures in psych-rock, garage pop and free improv.
King Kong Company @ Cork Opera House (midnight, €21)
Waterford’s primary export takes a jaunt away from the festival fields and into the altogether more formal climes of the Opera House for a late show. Standing admission is gone for this one, but seats are still available.
BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY OCTOBER 30TH
FOALS (DJ Set) @ Cyprus Avenue (10pm, €15)
Following a jam-packed afterparty where the band spun records after a headline set at the Marquee last year, the indie chart-botherers are back over the water to pick the tunes. Tickets disappearing sharpish for this one, as you might imagine.
HALLOWE’EN TUESDAY OCTOBER 31ST
Dragon of Shandon @ Shandon Street (7pm, free)
The annual bookend to the October Bank Holiday weekend proceedings on the Northside is a 500-person Hallowe’en parade, the result of an ongoing collaboration between the community groups of the Shandon area and Cork Community Art Link. The fearsome, skeletal Dragon of Shandon sets off from the foot of Shandon Hill (by the Friary) and wends his way around the Main Street area, bringing with him ghouls and ghosts, including those of local musicians and visual artists.