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Virtual Jazz Festival Celebrating Local Acts Goes Global

Jim McDermott & Friends performing in the Guildhall as part of the virtual City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival.

There were more than 50,000 views on the Bank Holiday weekend’s virtual performances as part of the 20th edition of the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival.

Almost 54,000 views were recorded over the 15 online videos that formed the festival programme, and messages were received throughout the weekend from audiences in Ireland, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Denmark, USA, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.

All of the festival performances and videos remain available to view on the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival website and Facebook page.

The online programme centred around the ‘Gigs at the Guildhall’ which saw 27 local acts performing over the three days of the festival, with Mark Patterson, Eve Blair and Mickey Doherty sharing the role of host throughout nine virtual slots.

Amanda May hits the right note with her Jazz Festival performance.

North West Regional College also hosted three jazz masterclasses as well as a virtual performance from students of the Music and Performing Arts Programme, with members of Ulster University’s School of Music also having a performance of their own.

Festival favourites the Jive Aces were a big hit online on Friday night of the festival, while a special documentary aired on Sunday was also enjoyed by many in celebrating and reminiscing on past festivals gone by.

A Special Weekend

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, said it was a special occasion and a special weekend in the history of the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival.

“I know that this isn’t how anyone would have imagined we would celebrate the 20th edition of the Jazz Festival, but I want to pay a huge credit to our Council officers who put in an incredible amount of hard work and innovative thinking to bring us what was a really enjoyable festival.

“It celebrated local music and the vast range of talent that we have here in our city and district, and it allowed us to make connections with people spread all around the world – over 50,000 people and counting.

Swingtime Starlets get into the rhythm as they perform as part of the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival.

“I want to thank the musicians who were part of the festival and everyone involved in making it one to remember,” said Mayor Tierney.

“It has been a long and a wonderful journey from that first Jazz Festival in 2002 to what we all know and love today, and so many memories of that journey came flooding back over the course of the weekend as we celebrated festivals gone by.

“Now we look ahead to the future, and while we hope this is the last Jazz Festival that we put forward on a digital only platform, I certainly think it was one that was thoroughly enjoyed by the thousands of people who tuned in over the weekend both near and far. If you missed any of it, make sure you get online and catch up!”

You can catch up on all of the virtual performances from the 20th City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival here.


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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