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Exciting Programme Launched For Special 20th Jazz Festival

Derry City and Strabane District Council have revealed plans for the 20th City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival, which will take place from April 30th to May 2nd this year.

It is a special landmark for the festival, which began in 2002 and would normally see upwards of 60,000 people in attendance enjoying music and events across more than 70 different venues.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year will see a blended programme, featuring a mix of virtual concerts with some on-street entertainment.

One special segment of the programme will see an array of local artists who have all played in previous Jazz Festivals showcasing their music online from the Guildhall, with three gigs per day over three stages during the three days of the festival.​

Previous Live performance from City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival Photo Credit: Gardiner Mitchell

Virtual Performances

Other exciting features include virtual performances from students at Ulster University’s Magee campus and from North West Regional College, and there will also be bursaries up for grabs for five up and coming young jazz artists.

Looking back on Jazz Festivals gone by will feature heavily in the programme, with a video covering the journey over years gone by, while there will also be a documentary style film reflecting on the past 19 editions of the festival and featuring interviews with acts who know and love the festival.

There will also be an outdoor jazz visual arts trail in the city centre for members of the public to enjoy safely and within COVID-19 restrictions.

Fantastic Atmosphere

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, said he is looking forward to the exciting programme for the Jazz Festival.

“The City of Derry Jazz Festival has become one of our staple events and there’s always a fantastic atmosphere that really lifts the whole city and district.

“Last year we were in the early stages of COVID-19 and had to move the whole festival online, and while we had hoped that we would be celebrating this significant 20th edition in the typical fashion with bustling streets, I’m delighted to launch what I think is a really exciting and fitting programme for this very special occasion.

“We continue to put COVID-19 restrictions and the health of all members of the public at the centre of our planning and our events, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation in the lead up to the festival.

“Once again, we have a big focus on virtual events, and I’m pleased to see our young people and students will play their part in this year’s programme.

“It’s also great that we’ll be able to reflect on previous festivals, on how the Jazz Festival has grown and on all the acts and the people who have made this annual event what we know and love it to be today.

“The performances coming from the heart of the city – the Guildhall – will be really special, and the planned jazz trail throughout the city centre will bring great music and art to our streets.

“There’s lots to look forward to, so I’d advise everyone to check out the programme and get involved.”

For more, visit the City of Derry Jazz Festival Website.


Helmet Set To Play Headline Show at Limelight 2

US alternative rock band Helmet are pleased to announce a headline Belfast show ‘Move On: The Covers and Hits Tour’ at Limelight 2 on 18th May 2022.

Helmet is an American alternative rock band from New York City formed in 1989 by vocalist and lead guitarist Page Hamilton. Since 2010, the band has consisted of Hamilton, drummer Kyle Stevenson, guitarist Dan Beeman and bassist Dave Case.

Helmet has released eight studio albums and two compilation albums. After releasing their debut album, Strap It On (1990), on Amphetamine Reptile, Helmet signed to Interscope Records and released three albums for the label, including the highly successful Meantime (1992), Betty (1994) and Aftertaste (1997). Helmet broke up in 1998, but reformed in 2004, and has since released four more albums ― Size Matters (2004), Monochrome (2006), Seeing Eye Dog (2010) and Dead to the World (2016).

In June 2021 the band released via their website only a limited-edition box set entitled “Move On” featuring 4 x 7” singles including the following covers and live tracks:
Move on (David Bowie) w/ More Bad News live

Mercy (Wire) w/ Rollo live

ETI (Blue Oyster Cult) w/ Blacktop live

I’m only sleeping (The Beatles) w/ Crisis King live

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Cormac Neeson Release New Track “Precious Cargo”

Cormac Neeson, the fearless lead singer of Irish rock act The Answer and performer, singer-songwriter in his own right, releases a brand new atmospheric mood single that showcases his prodigious talent as a versatile composer and vocalist.

Breaking free from any form of music genre pigeon holing, Neeson together with up and coming Northern Irish producer Jonny Fitch (The Sidemen / Emma Horan), have created a sonic masterpiece that channels the sublime dimensions of early Bon Iver with spacious production soundscapes and Neeson’s recognisable yet still unique vocal tones.

The song, co-written by Neeson, Fitch and Alex Francis, channels the strong parental instincts to love and protect the ones we hold close, at all cost and was developed by all three writers during the first Northern Irish COVID lockdown.

Says Neeson, “I actually developed a lot of the vocal ideas for this song during the first lockdown when I didn’t have access to a studio, so I would play and sing through the song every night but very quietly as my two children slept upstairs! Almost by accident, I developed this unusual close, whispering type vocal sound which sparked the idea to evolve the track into a full production. It is definitely a departure from anything I’ve ever released before but I’m very proud of it so we’re going to put it out there!!” 

Precious Cargo comes with a sketch animated video directed by Northern Irish artist / director, Louis Nelson. Neeson came across some sketches that Nelson had left lying around in a recording studio where he was working and thought that his style of sketch animation would lend itself perfectly to portray a form of other worldly escapism that would suit Precious Cargo. Says Neeson “Over a month or so Louis put together a sketch storyboard that conveyed the protection and love of a young family that simply wanted to escape what they saw as a hostile world. Precious Cargo is really all about protecting those you love when the maddening world around you seems so out of kilter with itself!”

Neeson’s co-writer Alex Francis has toured alongside the likes of Stereophonics, James Bay, Sting & Alanis Morissette and his music has been championed by Clash, Time Out & BBC Radio. He has showcased at the Isle of Wight festival twice, opened for Phil Collins in Hyde Park and performed at the London Palladium amongst other impressive touring highlights. 

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