Band plans festival return despite arson attack

The Jiveoholics who are happy to return to Derry despite their van being targetted by arsonists during last year's Jazz Festival.
The Jiveoholics who are happy to return to Derry despite their van being targetted by arsonists during last year's Jazz Festival.

Top swing band the Jiveoholics are planning a show stopping return to the city for this year’s jazz festival, despite being targeted by callous vandals who set fire to their equipment during last year’s event.

The six-piece from Wales were woken up by fire crews tackling the blaze outside their hotel on the first night of the festival, and thought they would have to return home after their equipment was destroyed.

But thanks to the “overwhelming kindness” shown to the band in the aftermath of the attack, they managed to complete all of their gigs and are now looking forward to a different experience of the city.

Speaking ahead of the event Jiveoholics saxophonist, the aptly named Crac Downes, said they hope to repay the good will shown to them with a few stellar performances.

“I have to say that it was a bit of a weird experience and not something we’ve ever encountered before,” he admits.

“Overall though, although we did have such a bad experience with the van, we had a fantastic time in Derry.

“And in fact we received so much support from people afterwards, that it really did turn a rather negative incident into a positive experience for us.

“Henderson’s Music Shop provided us with all the instruments to complete our gigs, and the organisers were more than helpful in getting us sorted out.”

And the band are looking forward to some bigger gigs, and spending a bit more time exploring the city, according to Downes.

“This year we will be playing some bigger venues, which is great, and we will be on the open air stage at the Guildhall on the Sunday which promises to be a really good show. Although people who enjoyed the music last year can expect more of the same, we will be playing some new tunes, as we now have a female singer and it allows us to perform some new material.

“But I think most of all we are looking forward to having a more relaxing time this year, without all the running about organising things that we had to do last year. It will give us a chance to see more of Derry, which seems like such a cool town, and have a good laugh, because there’s such a good atmosphere at the festival.

“We’re really looking forward to it.”

The Jiveoholics will play at a number of venues throughout the festival weekend May 3-7, including Karma Restaurant, the Tower Hotel and the Dungloe Bar. See the full programme for details at www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com.