Jazz Head Guide

Posted on Oct 19, 2010 in Music


The best jazz festival in the world is happening in the best city in the world this weekend. Here's our short guide to a few of the heads you'll find milling around the streets, pubs and dance floors over the next few days..


The Metropole: line up for a pint and a puke

In recent years original cutting edge acts are rarely seen at the Metropole so the crowd has changed too to the point where the Mac Curtain Street Mecca now accommodates more middle-of-the-road musical tastes. Nowadays you're as likely to hear a cover of Staying Alive and Dancing Queen as you are to hear jazz standards like Kind of Blue or Summertime at the festival's official headquarters.

It's still good craic of course but tends to feel a bit like an overcrowded wedding at times rather than a bone fides music festival but to be fair to the organisers, they know the majority of people aren't turned on by a ten minute vibraphone solo in Eb so this is where you go if you're sort of generally up for a good night out but not overly fussy about your tunes.

Also, be prepared to bump into about 15% of the entire range of people you know (it's the second most popular time of year for exiled Corkonians to return home) so practice your small talk while you're having your pre-jazz bath at home.

Most likely to say: Jeez boy haven't seen ya in years!

Mournfully sipping water in the corner these fellas refuse blankly to drink the Dublin brew and vociferously object to the unavailability of Murphy's and Beamish across the city citing taste, local jobs and loyalty to Cork as the principal reasons for non-engagement with bar staff through out the weekend - except, of course, to make the point of asking for a Beamish at every venue and scowling at the misfortunate who delivers the unfortunate news over the counter.

Most people do find the ban on locally brewed produce a bit odd. Imagine if Tesco banned all Irish meat from their stores and replaced it with British products for a while.

Corkonians, being the positive upbeat humans that they are have started viewing the jazz weekend a bit like Lent. You spend a bit of time fasting and thinking deeply about what you've given up. And then when you're given access to your favourite tipple it tastes even nicer than you ever remember!

Most likely to say: I'm getting on to Human Rights Watch about this stout exclusivity thing.

Anywan sellin' a ticket lah?

By now most Corkonians living in the Rebel County are thinking about looking at the internet or flicking through the Echo to find out what's on at the weekend. And even that's a stage before we decide that booking in advance might be a good idea.

Bad news feen: most of the headline acts are sold out by now. Sure, it's the same every year.

Our experience as the most decorated sporting county in Ireland however and the long drawn out but usually fruitful tapping of distant relations and friends for All Ireland final tickets makes us believe that getting a ticket, no matter how vigorously the media stress that something is sold out, is still possible.

There's always somebody with an over enthusiastic credit card who bought too many tickets, or the fella who can't go because he "started" too early and won't be let in or of course the somebody involved with the venue who might be able to pull a few strings and get you a position faking it as a "sound engineer's assistant" for the gig.

In Cork, there's always hope. Always a way.

Most likely to say: Sorry ja'know any wan with a ticket for Maceo Parker in the Savoy…

The jazz weekend is worth about four normal weekends trading to publicans. Good restaurants are always booked out weeks in advance for the whole weekend and hotels get an unexpected leg up despite the approach of ominous wintery weather conditions and dark evenings.

Hans and Dieter forgot their umbrella

Add the craic of the jazz weekend to our status as one of the Top Ten cities in the world to visit and we instantly surge to top of the pile (although we have argued correctly that Cork doesn't even need this to be top dog anyway) so it's not surprising to hear the streets filled with Dutch, German, English, French and Scandinavian accents all trying to make sense of the city's layout with the Lee's confusing twin channels.

While people like to have a few drinks there's no fear Corkonians will engage in the disgraceful behaviour of Arthur's Day Dubs that has become a national embarrassment on Youtube so be sure to issue a friendly welcome and help out confused looking tourists where possible.

Speaking of the Dubs, even they find it safe to visit now that their county's All Ireland football humiliation to Cork is over two months old and that their own stout is all that's available in many bars (thus saving them from receiving slagging from Corkonians for not drinking the local black stuff).

Give them a sympathetic pat on the back and a hearty Cork welcome too. It's been a tougher than usual year to be a Jackeen.

Most likely to say: is dish the second time we have crosshed de schame river?


A bit like like Santy Claus, most Corkonians have never experienced the Monday night madness of the jazz festival even though they know it exists. On paper it looks a bit timid. The headliners are all on their flights home, most hangovers have peaked and revellers are all tucked up in bed thinking about the uneventful week ahead. The one group who have been tied up all weekend are hard working bar staff that have been going hammer and thongs all weekend.

Since Thursday they have been watching everyone have a good time, heard reports of amazing gigs, seen couples fall in love and served up hundreds of good time pints for Corkonians and our visitors.

Now its 'payback time' and the hyper-craic in the Met reaches fever pitch as these deserving souls cram their entire jazz weekend into a short few hours that usually spawn parties and annual visits to Cork's early houses.

Most likely to say: I'll definitely remember to book next year's festival off.

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