The Island Jam is a festival for all
New Zealander Mark Anderson is one of the main movers behind The Island Jam, a two day festival that takes place in Cobh this weekend. He tells Brian Hayes Curtin why they created a festival for people of all ages, and how he came to live in Cobh
The Island Jam festival was born out of the Live On Spike festival that took place last year. The headliners include Fun Lovin Criminals, Jack L, Royseven, Republic of Loose and Eric Bell. It takes place this Saturday and Sunday at Cushkinny, near Cobh.
Mark left New Zealand in 1988, but retains a strong Kiwi twang despite his years spent far from home. For the last few years Cobh has been his home, and, for him, the Island Jam Festival is a way to bring more attention and visitors to Cobh for a fun, family friendly event.
“This year we thought we would bring it to the mainland. There are a couple of surprises happening on the day too," he says.
Mark and his colleagues at Creating Shows decided to set up the event due to their “love of music and doing something locally” using their expertise in event management, something that he has over 20 years of.
Their company is also responsible for many of the Titanic 100 commemorations that have been so successful so far this year. Indeed, there are still more Titanic events to come. “They have gone well, we got 94,000 people in the town for the week in April, with an economic spend of over €2 million.
“I was talking to a friend in Norway and he said Cobh and the Titanic were on the news there. We had to look at it sensitively as it was a tragedy. For us it wasn’t appropriate to have a rock band blasting away,” he says.
Of course it will be very appropriate this weekend at the festival! He was an organiser of Live On Spike last year, but they decided to move it to the mainland this year.
“The reaction to Live On Spike was brilliant but because of the logistics of getting bands and crowds onto the island was quite hard. There is room for 10,000 there, if you can get them there.
The logistics for The Island Jam are much easier, he says and it’s great that people are supporting it.
“We wanted to create a festival for adults of all ages without feeling that they were too old or too young. We want a festival so people can feel like they belong here.”
With that credo in mind, and taking account of what bands are available, the organisers picked a very varied lineup. “People will remember the Loudest Whisper from the 70s and obviously the Fun Lovin Criminals are from the 90s. The music is not just from one genre. This the first and we would like to think that this will be an annual event.
“Whether you’re 16 or 60, you can go along and have a laugh at it and appreciate good music. It’s for adults of all ages that enjoy outdoor music,” he adds.
Mark has lived in Cobh for four years and originally arrived due to the influence of Irish dancing and Michael Flatley. Oh and a Cork woman was involved too!
Mark was a production manager for Riverdance and toured the world with the record breaking production. While touring, he met his wife, a singer in the show. After living in various places around the world, they settled in her home town of Cobh after having kids.
“When I was touring the world, it was the greatest thing in the world, but it’s better to stay in one place when you have babies, he says. He is going on tour with The Waterboys for a few days soon though.
One of the attractions of the festival should be the ease of access from Cork city. Irish Rail are operating extra late train services back to Cork city, so there will be no excuse not to go!
“Having the train for Cork city is brilliant. There will be late trains going back to Cork city. People can get last orders in the bars in Cobh and then get trains back to Cork. It’s a good chance for a day out for people from Cork city without being stressed,” according to the New Zealander.
He is happy with the venue and thinks that it will offer something a bit different in Cork. “It’s small enough to be confined to a few people. It’s on in the grounds at Cushing Court, a stately home. Someone told me that it reminds them of a mini-Slane, but I’ve never been to Slane!”
The Island Jam Festival takes place on Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July at Cushkinny, Cobh. There will be late trains from Cobh and shuttle buses to the festival site from Cobh Train Station. Ring 021-4855623 for details or check www.theislandjam.com. Tickets are €39.50 and children under 12 are €5 excluding booking fee.