Jazz band keep playing despite arson attack

The burnt out van on Magazine Street. (0305PG02)
The burnt out van on Magazine Street. (0305PG02)

A jazz band who had their van and equipment burned in an arson attack in Derry yesterday morning have said it has not put them off returning to the city.

The van, which belongs to The Jiveaholics, a Welsh band currently visiting for the City of Derry Jazz Festival, was parked at Magazine Street, outside the Tower Hotel where the group were staying.

It contained musical instruments and equipment worth £50,000, some of which was damaged beyond repair in the blaze.

Despite the attack, the band have insisted they intend to perform their remaining shows in the city and a local music shop has provided the band with replacement equipment to allow them to play in the city tonight.

Konie Czny from the band described the arson attack as “heartbreaking.”

“This is our first visit to Derry and we had just played a great show on Friday and had a great time with the crowd, a lovely bunch of people. We were on a real high after the show and thought this was going to be a fantastic weekend. We got back to the hotel about 2am and then we were awoken at 4.30am by the fire service and told our van had been torched,” he said.

The jazz musician said the band’s stage outfits were destroyed in the fire and their instruments and electrical equipment were also damaged.

“We are trying to see what can be salvaged. The case for the tenor sax melted onto the instrument and our electrical equipment has been water damaged,” he said.

However, he said the group are determined to perform the rest of their shows in Derry and have thanked locals for supporting them. “We are still going to play. That’s what we came here to do. The people at Henderson’s music shop have been fantastic and have loaned us equipment and we are determined to keep going. The support from everyone we have met since the fire has been fantastic, everyone has rallied round and given us all the help they can. We certainly wouldn’t let what has happened put us off coming back to Derry and we hope to be back soon,” he said.

The Mayor of Derry, councillor Colum Eastwood, condemned the attack, describing it as “a disgraceful act of wanton violence and destruction.”

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson, who met with the band yesterday, appealed for anyone with information on the attack to contact the PSNI.

“I have been speaking to the band and, as well as the financial cost, they have a sentimental attachment to their instruments too. The saxophonist in particular told me his instrument has been in his family for generations.

The people of the Bogside have been disgusted by this and the people of Derry as a whole should not tolerate it. Anyone with any shred of information on this attack needs to give it to the PSNI,” she said.