Weather blues fail to dampen jazz spirit

The threat of driving winds and torrential rain showers could have given people the blues and kept them away, but the Cork Guinness Jazz festival events were as packed as ever as revellers happily went ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.

The festival got off to the perfect start with a highly successful opening back in its spiritual home at the Metropole Hotel after a number of years of trying other venues. That was followed by a packed house at the Everyman for Courtney Pine.

Saturday night’s sellout concert by Chic and Nile Rodgers at the Cork Opera House was always going to be a momentous occasion for fans, but it was made even more so when the world-renowned musician and songwriter announced that very day had been special for him because he had just been given a cancer-free diagnosis.

Other big audience draws were last night’s performance by Soul II Soul, and the sold out concerts of the Mingus Big Band and Snarky Puppy.

As usual the festival spilled onto the streets of Cork City with free events encouraging all ages to put down the shopping bags and have a dance as well as gorging from the many food tents.

Organisers say visitor numbers to the city appear to be up this year and that has led to a fabulous vibe around the place — one even said that in terms of financial value to the city, the festival is even more lucrative than Christmas because it attracts an older age group more willing to spend in the hotels, shops and restaurants.

Such has been the success of this weekend’s festival that one of the organisers recounted how two American women who were veterans of the New Orleans Jazz Festival actually dropped into the headquarters to tell the staff that this had been the first European event they had been to that had the same vibe as the New Orleans festival.

The Guinness Jazz Personality of the Festival was American jazz, soul, blues and gospel singer Rene Marie.