[Dixielandjazz] To Jazz or not to Jazz?

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Thu, 22 Aug 2002 22:48:13 -0400

Meg & Big George wrote:

"I got into quite a discussion with a friend about the word "jazz."  She
contends that the use of that
particular word is the reason OKOM doesn't have more fans.  "Call
something 'country music' and
people know what they're getting, and what to expect -- or, at least,
they think they do.  Call
something "jazz," and people don't want to appear ignorant or uninformed
or that they don't understand
the genre, so they shy away from it."

"My friend sings in a combo, and said that when she advertises "live
jazz" attendance is down
substantially; when her advertisement is for "live music," the gigs are
successful, and draw a
wide cross-section of the population."

And Jim Beebe agreed that it was a good point. And it is.

List Mates, Meg and Jim:

Here's interesting take from the East, and the clubs where Barbone
Street plays, which as you know by now are mostly filled with young

Most bands that these clubs hire say they are playing "jazz". And the
clubs advertise both "live music" and "jazz". Most of the music played
by these other bands is not jazz.

Yet the kids (21-40) tell us they want to hear "jazz", and that nobody
plays it as well as we do anywhere in the Philadelphia area. (Basically
they don't hear the kind of jazz we play anywhere, so it's no big deal)

We advertise ourselves as a "Swinging Dixieland Jazz Band", as do the
clubs. And over the years we have developed a reputation and a young fan
base. So that we outdraw all of our competitors. (mostly young bands who
are not playing jazz).  Our fans beg us to play weddings, and parties,
both blue collar folks as well as the ultra rich and anonymous who
reside in this part of the world. Main Line Phila, Chester County PA
Horse Country, and Northern Delaware of Winterthur, Longwood Gardens,
Museums, Steeplechase Races, Wineries, etc., etc. How lucky can we be?
We are blessed.

So go figure? For us, "jazz" works. For others it does not. The answer
probably lies with the audience, or "viewees" as Charlie Hooks and I
like to say. What do they want?  Find that answer and you can't miss.
Call it whatever they want and play whatever you want, saying it was
their idea all the while.

Steve Barbone