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People behind the Jazz: Booka Brass Band member Paul Kiernan tells us why the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is not to be missed

“We met when we played classical music together in the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland,” says Paul.

From student beginnings, Booka Brass has gone from strength to strength on the live music scene. They’ve collaborated with some of Ireland’s top acts – The Frames, Jerry Fish, Lisa Hannigan, Jape and James Vincent McMorrow.

They play the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival on Saturday, October 28.

1. What does the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival mean to you personally?

Great music, great fun, great people – the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival’s a brilliant outlet for Irish musicians and for the Irish public to see and hear what kind of music is happening around the world. It started off as a jazz festival – now it includes a good mix of different music genres, from traditional jazz to more contemporary mixes. To bring that to Cork is just amazing and the atmosphere in the city’s always amazing. This is our third year doing Cork Opera House and it’s probably our fifth year playing at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.

I’d been once before we played there. I don’t know what I was expecting but the festival  had such a great reputation, I knew I was going to have a brilliant time, and here we are five years later, still attending!

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

It’s not to be missed any year. There’s always new music. There are always memories to be made.

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

It’s unfortunate we’re only going to be down for the day. We’re in Wexford the day before and back in Dublin on the Sunday. We’re  hoping to float around the City beforehand and seeing what the atmosphere is like and enjoying that and calling into a few pubs like the Oliver Plunkett and Coughlan’s Bar.

4. Do you have a stand out Guinness Cork Jazz Festival memory from years gone by?

Our first year at the festival, we were playing in Gallagher’s pub. At the time we were playing a lot of covers and we were playing a cover by the Hot 8 Brass Band, one of our brass idols. All of a sudden, these two big American guys walked by and they happened to be members of the Hot 8 Brass Band. They came in and they were standing in the crowd and at that moment I’m in the middle of a solo. I have my eyes closed and I’m trying to think about what I’m playing and then I see these two guys and they’re coming on stage – the other band members had called them up. They come up and start soloing. That was such an amazing thing. It could only happen at a festival like the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, because you’re so free to roam from one venue to the next – they could just join in and play with us. It was pretty scary! It was good. I let them take over then and we kept playing.

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

It’s very difficult to say. There’s so much going on. We’re playing in the Cork Opera House! And Imelda May’s in the Opera House and Paul Dunlea. The Opera House is an amazing venue in itself.

6. How will you spend the Guinness Cork Jazz festival?

As I mentioned, unfortunately we can only attend the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival for one day this year, unlike every other year when we have stayed for the whole weekend! It’ll be a pretty hectic day with sound checks but we’re hoping to catch a few bands and soak up the atmosphere in the city.

7. Finally, looking ahead ten years do you believe the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival will still be going strong?

Absolutely – I don’t have a doubt.

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

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