It’s the biggest weekend of the year for Cork city, drawing tens of thousands of international visitors, as well as bringing seemingly everyone out of the woodwork locally over the course of five days. The Cork Jazz Festival is an institution for generations of Corkonians, falling every October Bank Holiday weekend since 1977, when the Metropole Hotel hurriedly booked a weekender with the Cork Jazz Society after the National Bridge Congress cancelled a major function-room booking.
While it’s steeped in tradition (look out for the straw hats coming down from the Metropole Hotel on McCurtain Street), the Jazz has also been the ideal forum for local music communities, providing alternatives to the main programming and diversifying the city’s overall offering to visitors on the big weekend. This independent element, in combination with the Jazz’ specialist events, Music Trail and Fringe programmes, has made Cork city a quietly formidable destination for discerning music heads of all stripes over the weekend.
The below is as comprehensive a list as I can manage at present of alternative, independent, original and otherwise compelling music events amid the jazz standards, covers bands, buskers and casual revellers that form a part of heading out on October Bank Holiday weekend in Cork.
I’ll be updating it over the course of the week with last-minute announcements as they emerge, so keep it locked here, as you start making plans.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 24TH
- The Cosmic Dead @ Crane Lane Theatre (7pm, €15)
Scots kosmiche/noise outfit head up a full billing of some of Ireland’s best heft units, including Crowhammer, Hawkbastard and Mendicant.
- The Names of Enemies @ Crane Lane Theatre (midnight, free)
Corkonian alt-rock outfit play a free gig after recently launching their debut album.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 25TH
- Vieux Farka Touré @ Cyprus Avenue (7pm, €25)
Malian guitar royalty strikes out on his own with a solo performance at the Caroline Street venue to kick off its Jazz Weekend proceedings.
- Marine, Panik Attaks + Happyalone @ The Poor Relation (8pm, €tbc)
Shneaky pre-Jazz gig for the Cosmonaut Music camp, triple-headlined by beat unit Marine, post-punk supergroup Panik Attaks and alt-pop floaters Happyalone.
- The Slut Club @ Fred Zeppelin’s (8pm, €5)
Cork indie lads open Fredz’ Jazz weekend account, with Yenkee and Kill ‘Em Charlie in support.
- NADJA @ The Roundy (9pm, €10)
Ex-Hydra Head metalgaze duo sets the tone for PLUGD/The Roundy’s Jazz weekend proceedings.
- Crow Black Chicken @ Crane Lane Theatre (midnight, free)
World-travelled blues power-trio take to the stage at the Crane as part of an extended week of Jazz proceedings.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 26TH
- Soulé @ Cyprus Avenue (7.30pm, €12.50)
Two-time Choice nominee and rising star of Irish hip-hop takes centre stage at Cyprus Avenue.
- Dylan Howe @ Coughlan’s (8pm, free)
Rowan main-man and multi-instrumentalist headlines a solo show to kick off Jazz Weekend in earnest for Coughlan’s.
- Billy Childs All-Star Quartet + Billy Cobham Trio @ Everyman Palace (8pm, €40)
A double-bill excursion from two certifiable legends of the jazz game: pianist Billy Childs & quartet and oft-sampled drummer Billy Cobham plus collaborators.
- Cuttin’ Heads Collective @ The Poor Relation (9pm, free)
Cork’s hip-hop co-op has a residents’ night that goes heavy on the Jazz influences.
- King Witch + Hundred Year Old Man @ Fred Zeppelin’s (9pm, €tbc)
Scots doomers King Witch and UK post-metallers HYOM double-headline Fredz’ metal Jazz-Weekend night, also featuring Doomas, Raum Kingdom and Mendicant.
- David Duffy Quartet’s Unity @ Live at St. Luke’s (9pm, €15)
Commissioned by the Jazz for the occasion, David Duffy (ex-Hard Ground/Eat My Noise) leads his quartet along the genre’s fringes while 4k projected visuals light up the surroundings of St. Luke’s.
- Umbra @ Cork Opera House Green Room (10pm, €10)
Innovative jazz quintet head up the night’s events in the Opera House’s back room venue, led by guitarist Chris Guilfoyle.
- Hypnotic Brass Ensemble @ Cork Opera House (11.45pm, €27.50)
The main event of a busy weekend for the HBE septet sees them take to the stage at the Opera House.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 27TH
- Hypnotic Brass Ensemble @ Cyprus Avenue (1pm, €20/€10 under-16s)
An all-ages showcase for ‘Hypnotic Joints’, the new album from one of the Jazz’ busiest ensembles, hosted by Cork hip-hop legend Stevie G.
- Under the Rose All Day/All Night @ Dali (1pm, €22.50)
A marathon billing of international techno for the Carey’s Lane venue’s first Jazz weekend: Cassegrain, Mørbeck, Subjected, Introversion and Denise Rabe play the venue over a thirteen-hour session.
- Anna Gourari + Zsófia Boros @ Triskel Christchurch (1pm, €35)
Pianist Anna Gourari and guitarist Zsófia Boros are collaborating in a concert of solo and duo works specially devised for the Triskel’s ECM Weekend.
- Bansangu Orchestra + T.S. Monk Sextet @ Everyman Palace (2.30pm, €35)
World-flavoured jazz ensemble and the son of the legendary Thelonious Monk team up for an Everyman jazz double-bill.
- ZASKA @ Crane Lane Theatre (2.30pm, free)
Max Zaska and crew make their annual excursion to Cork for the weekend that’s in it.
- Gwada Mike’s Sundown Saturday @ The Sextant (3pm, free)
Mike’s open-decks reggae/dub afternoon moves shifts to Saturday for the big weekend, with tunes all evening in the quayside venue.
- Dim the Lights @ The Vicarstown Bar (4pm, free)
An all-evening spree of electronica from the Dim the Lights residents, joined by Melly of Dubland’s Major Problems.
- Quangodelic @ The Old Oak (6pm, free)
Wonky p-funk multiple-piece take a break from refining their debut LP for a gig downstairs on Caroline Street.
- Brian Deady @ Cork Opera House (7pm, €25)
Nialler-approved soul sensation takes to the biggest stage in the city for the second time, following headlining shows there last year.
- Wyvern Lingo @ Live at St. Luke’s (7.30pm, €22.50)
Bray soul/r’n’b/rock trio continue their upward trajectory with a headlining appearance at the Northside’s temple of music.
- Dan Walsh Trio @ The Roundy (8pm, free)
Experimentation and free jazz with a trio led by Fixity/Great Balloon Race man Dan Walsh.
- Shhh & Dance @ An Spailpín Fánach (8pm, €5)
Technomermaids and Miguel get behind the decks for the latest instalment of their night upstairs in the North Main Street venue.
- Fish Go Deep @ Connolly’s of Leap (8pm, €15)
Getting out of the city for the weekend, Greg and Shane follow their sold-out 30th anniversary gig with a trip under the Hammers.
- Kristjan Randalu + Dino Saluzzi @ Triskel Christchurch (8pm, €35)
ECM season at the Triskel continues with a heavyweight double-headliner.
- Laura Mvula @ City Hall (8pm, €40)
Two-time MOBO-winning singer-songwriter plays a headline slot at City Hall for the Jazz Weekend.
- China Moses + Pablo Ziegler Trio (8pm, €40)
The superstar double-bills continue with jazz royalty China Moses playing alongside Grammy-winning pianist Pablo Ziegler and collaborators.
- Chainska Brassika @ Crane Lane Theatre (10pm, free)
London ska upstarts and one-time Toots Hibbert collaborators play the back room at the Crane. Usually quite packed on Jazz weekend so get in early.
- Not How, When! @ The Kino (10pm, €6)
The tenth anniversary of Cork’s dancing-shoes night falls on Jazz weekend. Plenty excuse for a big residents’ night then!
- Audible Joes’ Halloween Ball @ Fred Zeppelin’s (10pm, €7)
Cork pop-punx headline a costumed-ball gig at the red room on Parliament Street. Also on the bill: Dubs Jobseekers, seldom-seen Corkonians Stanton’s Grave and new lads Without a Cause.
- David O’Rourke & Paul Dunlea @ Cork Opera House Green Room (10pm, €10)
Two legends of Irish jazz collaborate on live renditions of new and original material.
- Paul Dunlea Septet @ Cork Opera House Green Room (10pm, €10)
Cork Jazz Festival’s resident artists calls up his collaborators for a solo set in the Opera House’s intimate venue.
- New Jackson + Colm K @ The Roundy (11pm, €10)
David Kitt takes to the home of PLUGD Records for an appearance for his New Jackson pseudonym. Colm K makes his PLUGD/Roundy debut after.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 28TH
- Hypnotic Brass Ensemble @ Cyprus Avenue (1pm, €20/€10 under-16s)
Showcasing 2016 album ‘Sound, Rhythm, Form’ in its entirety for the second of two all-ages gigs over the weekend for HBE, with Stevie G in tow.
- Linley Hamilton Ensemble + Frank Vignola Hot Guitar Trio @ Cork School of Music (2pm, €20)
A double-headliner at the School of Music include veteran NI trumpeter and jazz broadcaster Linley Hamilton, a studio collaborator of ASIWYFA among others.
- Roller Trio @ Triskel Christchurch (2.30pm, €15)
Cork appearance from the electro-jazz trio hailed as ‘the new sound of UK jazz’ by Gilles Peterson.
- Nnenna Freelon Trio + Donny McCaslin Group @ Everyman Palace (2.30pm, €35)
Another heavyweight double-bill of jazz headliners at the Everyman, with vocalist Nnenna Freelon and Grammy-nominated saxophonist Donny McCaslin leading bands.
- Evelina Nerstrand + Sam Clague @ The Roundy (4pm, free)
Swedish jazz-folk singer-songwriter headlines An Club Cruinn’s Jazz-weekend special at The Roundy, alongside Clonakilty singer Sam Clague.
- This Island @ Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh (5pm, €12)
A site-specific collaboration between cellist Eimear Reidy and producer Robert Curgenven, playing on the venue’s seated set-up with quadrophonic live sound, sonically exploring Cobh’s geography.
- Dan Walsh Trio @ The Roundy (6pm, free)
The best sticksman in the city works with collaborators for the second of two Jazz-weekend slots at the home of PLUGD Records.
- Talos @ Cork Opera House (7pm, €25)
Eoin French and crew headline the Opera House in their biggest hometown show to date, following the reissue of album ‘Wild Alee’ on SonyBMG.
- Kit Downes + Tord Gustavsen Trio @ Triskel Christchurch (8pm, €35)
The Triskel’s ECM weekend continues with a double-headliner bill from label artists Kit Downs and Tord Gustavsen.
- Stanley Clarke Band @ Everyman Palace (8pm, €40)
Jazz-fusion bass legend with four decades of experience under his belt headlines at the Everyman in a standalone show.
- Maria Schneider Orchestra @ Cork City Hall (8pm, €40)
Five-time Grammy-winning jazz orchestra headlines as part of the festival’s offering at City Hall, a historic music venue.
- County Vinyl @ The Roundy (8.30pm, free)
The County Vinyl lads return to PLUGD to round off proceedings. Joining them are The Drifter (Maeve label boss) and Paul Kav. Techno, disco, house and the like all night.
- Jubei @ An Spailpín Fánach (9pm, €10)
The fifth annual Jazz-weekend D’n’B night at the Spailpín for local specialists Evolution, headlined by Metalheadz affiliate Jubei.
- One Horse Pony @ The White Rabbit (9.30pm, free)
A Jazz-weekend appearance for the Cork folk/roots outfit.
- Cormac McCarthy’s Súp Trio @ Cork Opera House Green Room (10pm, €10)
The forward-thinking jazz continues at the Green Room with Euroradio Jazz finalist piano trio Súp.
- Nubian Twist + Blue Lab Beats @ Dali (10.30pm, €25)
A double-bill of rapidly-emerging London afro-beat, jazz and hip-hop.
- Shookrah @ Coughlan’s (11pm, free)
Neo-soul cosmonauts continue exploring the genre’s further limits with a gig at the back room on Douglas Street.
- Ejeca @ Cyprus Avenue (11pm, €20)
Belfast man Garry MacCarthy brings house and techno to Caroline Street to close their Jazz weekend proceedings.
- Fixity @ The Poor Relation (midnight, free)
Drummer Dan Walsh leads a full six-piece through new directions in music.
BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY OCTOBER 29TH
- Meschiya Lake @ Crane Lane Theatre (9pm, free)
Berlin-based former sideshow musician brings the sum of her experiences to the Crane Lane stage to close out their Jazz festivities.