We were in Derry, Northern Ireland for the fourth consecutive year at the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band festival organised by the City Council. Itís a great festival and has a real community spirit and everyone is really friendly.
The Mayor of Derry presented us with the City of Derry Jazz Festival International Music Award (the same award given to Van Morrison last year). It was presented to us by the Mayor in the honourable company of jazz greats Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk and local hero Gay McIntyre.
We played 6 shows in 4 days all over the city and every show was sold out. All the posters, programmes and brochures of the festival had a large silhouette of yours truly playing the trumpet as the main image of the festival.
So, a happy and busy time ñ for example just on the Thursday we played live and were interviewed on BBC Foyle in the morning and I was interviewed again for the lunchtime news on the same channel. Then we went to the river to have photos taken for the news papers and filmed by the local BBC TV which aired at lunchtime and then again in the evening. We then drove to Belfast where we played live and were interviewed on the George Jones show on BBC Ulster.
Then we returned to Derry where we had to attend the opening celebration at the Guildhall.
The gigs started with the opening night double bill at DaVinciís Hotel with famous British jazz greats Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk.
On Friday night the band was at Rafters, just on the edge of the city, which was absolutely jammed with people.
On Saturday afternoon the band was at the Strand Bar and being an afternoon many people used this as an opportunity to bring their kids along to see the Jive Aces show which was really fun for us too.
The Saturday evening at Gweedore had queues going down the street for the whole evening and to say it was jammed would be an understatement!
Sunday afternoon the band went a couple of miles down the road and over the border to Harryís Restaurant for a benefit concert for the Red Cross.
Opening the show for us was local singer/songwriter Claire Sproule, who has just released an album on Parlophone and is becoming a big name on the Irish music scene, with 2 recent singles in the Irish airplay top 20. Claire also joined us in our set with an impromptu performance of "Ainít Misbehaving".
Sunday night was the festival finale at DaVinciís, and the host was BBC Radio Foyle DJ Mark Patterson.
Thanks to everyone we met, played for and a big well done to the very hard working organisers!