A New Orleans funeral parade with a multi-coloured coffin, a 20-piece brass band, and a 10ft “widow” puppet complete with trailing black veil is among the eye-catching attractions planned for the 10th anniversary of the renowned Ballydehob Jazz festival.
The renowned West Cork sense of humour has already come into play — organisers have received several applications for the post of coffin occupant, according to artistic director Joseph O’Leary.
During what will be a traditional-style New Orleans funeral parade, the brightly painted coffin, heaped with flowers, will be shouldered through Ballydehob main street by several burly pall-bearers, followed in turn by the deceased’s 10ft “widow”, a large funeral band playing a mix of upbeat tunes and funereal dirges and a crowd of parasol-twirling children with their faces painted.
“It will be quite a sight,” observed Mr O’Leary, who said the funeral parade would take place, weather permitting, on Saturday, April 30 / Sunday, May 1.
The colourful four-day May Bank Holiday Weekend event, which usually attracts about 3,000 visitors to the peninsula village with fewer than 300 inhabitants, has earned an international reputation since it commenced. It has attracted some of the world’s top jazz names from New Orleans, New York, Boston, Portland Oregon, Guatemala, and Berlin.
This year’s festival will be no exception. It features a list of internationally renowned bands including pop-soul juggernaut, Lake Street Dive and traditional jazz artistes Meschiya Lake & The Lil Big Horns as well as a a free jazz trail with more than 40 performances throughout the village, an artisan food and craft market, and a full weekend of jazz dance workshops, all leading up to a swinging Moonshine Party on the final night.
This festival is run by volunteers, described by Mr O’Leary as “a mad bunch of music lovers and festival buffs who share a vision to promote the arts and bring people to the remarkable and unique corner of the world that is Ballydehob, West Cork”. “It is an amazing feat that such a small village can host and run an event of this stature,” he said.
Since the festival’s inception in 2007 it has hosted a string of extraordinary musicians and performers including award-winners, child prodigies, Irish legends, and pop stars such as The Neil Cowley Trio, Liane Carroll, Andreas Varady, Paddy Cole, and Camille O’Sullivan.
Each May Bank Holiday weekend sees over 40 performances that range from big name concerts to small workshops; from lively pub gigs to intimate sideshows and a healthy dose of fringe attractions to compliment. “It’s no wonder that such an amazing event emerged out of this improbable corner of the world,” said Mr O’Leary.
For more information visit www.ballydehobjazzfestival.org or email ballydehobjazz@gmail/com
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