Jive Aces defend Scientology promo

Derry's jazz favourites, The Jive Aces, have been criticised for promoting the Church of Scientology during the city's jazz festival.

Famed for their distinctive canary yellow suits, The Jive Aces are regarded as the darlings of the highly-acclaimed music fest.

Some local people attending events last weekend have voiced concerns that the band were distributing 'Church' literature to audiences.

However, Ian Clarkson, lead singer with the Jive Aces, last night insisted that the band only spoke about Scientology when asked by audience members.

"Everyone knows we're Scientologists but we don't push that in people's faces," he told 'FN'. "People come to ask us questions and we answer their questions."

Mr Clarkson acknowledged that the band had free booklets - entitled 'The Way to Happiness' - available at their gigs but insisted the publication was a "non religious, non political, common sense moral code and we usually have them on our CD table."

One Derry shopper who watched the Jive Aces perform in Foyleside, claimed: "I think it's terrible the band was exploiting a major entertainment event as a platform to promote their 'Church'. I would love to have stayed and listened to the music, but once me and my sister saw the flyers, we bolted. It was really off-putting."

Another Derry jazz fan, who didn't wish to be named, says she left another event in a local restaurant early feeling annoyed at the band's apparent "canvassing" of the crowd.

"The band took a long break in the middle of their show and walked around the tables with clipboards, talking to people and selling books. We wanted nothing to do with them, we only went there to hear jazz, and the conversation actually got a bit heated at one point about it all. We ended up going home."

On the band's official website, The Jive Aces attribute their "tremendous energy and confidence" to the "workable solutions found in Scientology religious principles", a faith developed by humanitarian and science-fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard.

Celebrity members of the Church of Scientology include Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

A spokesperson for the Jazz Festival said it was important to get feedback on all aspects of the weekend.

"Over recent years, the band's performance is regarded as one of the festival favourites. However, any comments or concerns raised by members of the public would be considered by the festival team in full and also forwarded to the band management."