Unsung Heads of D’Jazz

Posted on Oct 25, 2019 in News

 
 

Musicians, big name sponsors and important looking festival organisers are rightly given credit for the success of Cork’s biggest festival, but here are a few of the unsung heroes who are rarely lauded for the long and laborious shifts they put in over the weekend. 


Mr. Sound
Soundmen are the near-invisible species without whom the jazz festival simply couldn’t take place. They command giant rows of sliders, switches, buttons and knobs, making a tweak here and there to ensure every note played at the festival arrives at your eardrum in the best possible condition. They’ve been hauling murderously heavy black cases in and out of vans parked on double yellow lines and dragging them up punishingly steep staircases since last Tuesday night, yet most of us never even see them.

Musicians on stage communicate with sound men through a mysterious code of split-second hand gestures and an array of pained facial expressions. Occasionally, the audience will overhear a peculiar request like “more sax in my wedge” or “less top end in my bottom end”.  The soundman’s hands move over the array of knobs swiftly, tweaking and twiddling until the entitled scowl turns to a satisfied smile.

 

Don't touch my knobs


The Ticket Bloodhound
Everyone knows you don’t try to book a ticket for one of the headline acts in the jazz festival until it’s sold out – if you’re from Cork, like getting a ticket for an All-Ireland final buying one in advance isn’t really how you’re supposed to get in. Rebels like doing it differently. 

So, even though the sign at the ticket desk says it’s sold out, there are no tickets available online and there is a fella in a high vis vest with a megaphone standing outside the Opera House roaring “turn back now, the Brian Deady gig is completely sold out, there are no tickets left whatsoever”, you turn to the buddy and say “yerra it’ll be grand, give Murph a shout there, he’ll sniff out a few for us”

And sure enough, you find yourself at the gig because your ticket bloodhound made a few phonecalls to someone who knows someone who went to school with Deady’s sister below in Skibb whose husband happens to be standing next to the guy with the megaphone. And he can get you in.

Now you’ll probably end up curled up inside the drummer’s kick drum case to the side of the stage, but hey, you’re there, so it’s the mi-jazz-a!


Burdened Bar Staff
‘Sorry, we’re not serving Beamish this weekend….I know, I’m sorry about that…..well yes, there are kegs of it out the back, but the tap is turned off for the weekend…..it’s because of the jazz, like….I’m sorry now like, the manager is very busy….we have Guinness though….OK, SORRY! No problem, I will definitely give them that feedback minus the bad language…..sorry, ok, I’ll include the bad language AND the phrase “beverage apartheid” exactly as you’ve said it.’  

Being on your feet continuously for twelve hours a day, four days in a row is tiring enough, but pulling half a million pints of stout (and remembering which settled pints are going to who) is tough work – as is being forced to charge punters €2 for a pint of water in some venues and having to deal with Corkonians looking for locally brewed booze instead of the Dublin soup.

When you protest loudly to them that your favourite tipple isn’t available, bear in mind that they’ve heard the same thing a hundred times all weekend and that they had no hand act or part in the decision. Be patient, they’re doing their best – you’ll get served soon. 
 

"but...but you actually HAVE a Beamish tap like??"




Frozen Buskers
There’s no warm, cosy intimate venues with complimentary white towels and free cool pints of Guinness for some of Cork’s best (and, admittedly, also worst) musicians. As temperatures fall, the city’s buskers take to the streets to earn a few bob and entertain the masses. Despite the chilly late October air, they come out in droves and find themselves surrounded by big friendly crowds – much of them tourists or Corkonians who only come into the city a few times a year.

In recent years, the festival has successfully created a great outdoor buzz in the city centre with a stage on Emmet Place and parading brass bands. But along with well-paid bands from abroad that are officially part of the festival, the plethora of local singer-songwriters, trad bands, funk trios, impressive teenage brass bands and other random buskers, make a huge contribution to the carnival atmosphere in the city too.  


Rain Dance Cabby
For the last week taxi drivers have been performing the traditional jazz festival rain dance. A wet weekend dampens the atmosphere around town somewhat, but it’s a bonus bonanza for cabbies. Without their services, you’d not only end up staying in some jam-packed bar where the only advantage of staying is that you have seats, but jumping in a cab to get from one end of town to the other could also save you a soaking and a week in bed with the dreaded ‘jazz flu’ (man flu plus a six day hangover).

Plus it’s always heart-warming to get the traditional Cork taxi driver rant about ‘crazy’ cyclists whilst they themselves break a red light and fail to indicate once. Ah but sure it wouldn’t be the jazz without it!

 

 
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