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People behind the Jazz: Bar manager Rory tells us where’s hot during Guinness Cork Jazz Festival

Rory Murphy is the current night manager at The Oliver Plunkett bar, Cork.

Rory has worked for over three years in the live music hub, which has traditional bands upstairs and contemporary modern pop downstairs.

“Being a live music venue, we can cater for a lot of different bands. Over the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival weekend, we’ll have approximately 40 bands performing jazz entertainment free of charge from the Thursday straight through to the Monday night.”

1. What does the jazz festival mean to you personally?

At The Oliver Plunkett we are constantly working to make our entertainment offering over the festival weekend, the best it can be. Once the festival finishes, we’re booking straightaway for next year. This year, we have a band coming from New York – The Clubs – it’s their second year with us. They enjoyed the gigs and Guinness Cork Jazz festival so much last year, they’re back again.

Our main three bands have been the same for the last few years: Rob Strong, the Gemma Sugrue Band and Blutack & The Greenhorns. The festival weekend is our busiest time of year. It’s non-stop in the run up to the festival making sure we have everything covered and additional staff on board, ultimately ensuring we are providing brilliant jazz entertainment over the course of the festival weekend!

2. What message would you have for those thinking about joining the Jazz festival fun in Cork?

A lot of people say ‘oh, I can’t stand jazz’ – and you still see them out enjoying everything. They love it. The younger generation of staff here – they’re into R&B and the chart music but when the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival weekend comes, with the premium, contemporary mix of entertainment, they’re getting on their jazz hats and ties and braces and they love it.

3. What event or act are you looking to forward most at this year's festival?

Rob Strong’s up there for me for number one slot. But all the bands we have in here, I’d gladly sit back and enjoy. We’d have about 30 bands playing in here weekly through the year. The Guilty Judges play every Friday night – they become the Jazzy Judges for the Guinness Cork Jazz  weekend. There are a lot of talented musicians in Cork. I’ll be looking forward to The Dan Clan, who play the Sunday of the Guinness Cork Jazz weekend every year, from 1-3pm. The older generation who love their jazz come to hear them – by 12 noon on a Sunday you wouldn’t get up the stairs.

4. Do you have a stand out Jazz festival memory from years gone by?

The year before last, at about 10pm, I was standing outside the front door of the Oliver Plunkett. Next thing I heard these trumpets coming up the street and I could see a lot of people following. I said to the door security, what’s coming up the street. It was a band I didn’t know. I put up my hand to the lead fellow and beckoned them in. They came straight in to the Oliver Plunkett, still playing, straight through the main bar, downstairs and then upstairs. Other bands that were playing joined in and everyone was dancing. It was impromptu. I put it up on Facebook. It was up on Joe.ie next day. They were a band from the States. They probably thought being such a big band, they wouldn’t get in anywhere – and then they got into one of the busiest pubs in the City!


5. If you had to highlight one venue that any Jazz festival newbie should experience what would it be?

Besides us, Rearden’s Bar is great – they’ll have a full line-up for the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival weekend. My friends are going to Imelda May in the Opera House on the Sunday – that’ll be a great gig.

6. How will you spend the Jazz festival?

Outside the door ensuring everything’s running smoothly, including the barbeque! We do a whole barbeque for the jazz weekend, with a pig on the spit. It’ll start at 12 noon on the Saturday and Sunday. We’ll keep it going as long as we can. Last year, it went until 10pm. I’ll be making sure the queues are working properly. I’ll be working from Thursday to Sunday. My wife’s expecting number two next month but our partners understand the Guinness Cork Jazz weekend’s our baby and we just come in and work the long shifts.

7. Finally, looking ahead ten years do you believe the jazz festival will still be going strong?

It will – it brings so many people into the city. There’s such a feel-good factor. Guinness is a great sponsor. There are a lot of great people working behind the scenes to make the festival happen and to ensure it continues to grow every year. I can’t see any reason why it won’t still be going in 40 years’ time.

Full details for the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival can be found www.guinnessjazzfestival.com.

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