As this music festival grows in stature and standard one need only consider the highlights of the 7th annual Ballydehob Jazz Festival to understand why organisers return annually to such an arduous task.
Looking to introduce jazz music to the unbiased, there was distinct relief when a room full of National School children enthusiastically interchanged with musicians during a school workshop led by Ruti Lachs and Tony Adams. Similar validation ensued when the vibe on the street was buzzy and cheerful as hoards of families revelled in free live music provided by Cocomojo, Tuxedo Jazz, Carolyn Quartet and East Coast Jazz Band and delighted at Dr. Dink’s hilarious Punk and Suzy puppet show.
Some stars shone bright along the pub trail. Funky hipsters crowded the dance floor for Earthship while local sweetheart Molly O’Mahony and her band Mongoose plucked heartstrings raw and Liv Monoghan’s duo, Princess and the P, mesmerised a pub audience into silent submission. Anyone who witnessed Camilla Griehsel and Maurice Seezer will undoubtedly have been dabbing away tears during their emotionally charged afternoon concert, Viva la Vida.
There is one moment, though, that towers over the rest in a way that make the long hours and frustrating set-backs worthwhile… that euphoric last 10 minutes of the Neil Cowley Trio’s headline concert. An already tight, electric performance climaxed when the pianist, the bassist and the drummer, three otherwise lovely lads from London, rendered 200 unsuspecting onlookers utterly feeble as they rocked the stage with a frenetic rendition of “She Eats Flies” from Cowleys’ 2006 album Displaced. The room heaved with deep seated ecstatic elation when Neil, Rex and Evan aerobically lifted the energy to unbearable heights with controlled, wild abandon.
Ballydehob Jazz Festival will return in 2014 if only to chase that high.