[Dixielandjazz] Future of Dixieland - Redux

Custode at aol.com Custode at aol.com
Thu Aug 7 18:21:53 PDT 2003

While it is true that Dixieland Bands do have regular engagements both in the 
US, as well as, abroad, the fact remains that unless the younger generations 
are exposed to it, we as musicians will be playing to a dramatically reduced 
audience in 15 years.  And, most of those steady engagements that people 
continually site as proof of the popularity of Dixieland Music, will be all but 
extinct.  This is written, mind you, from the leader of a Dixieland Band with a 
steady engagement.  

Now, I am not a fatalist by nature, but I am a realist.  The fact of the 
matter is that Dixieland Music was popular music in its' heyday.  We will never 
see that again, and most rational people will agree with this assertion.  So, 
the style became some people's nostalgia.

Then it was seen as distinct and neat style of music, most often associated 
with Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  A revival in interest followed in the 
50's, and after much interest on the national level, the Dixieland style was once 
again associated with the "Crescent City."  

Herein lies the point.  One needs to only spend a few hours on Bourbon Street 
to realize that OKOM is not the most featured on the block.  In fact, on a 
recent trip to New Orleans, I was disappointed to find only three clubs on 
Bourbon Street with Dixieland Music, and two of them were on certain nights only!  
The bands for the most part, no longer carry the traditional 7 piece setup, 
and nobody seems to care...except us of course.

The Queen City Jass Society recently held a children's open house during a 
special monthly get-together for their membership.  Of the members who attended, 
only a very small handful (I surmise less than 2%) brought their 
children/grandchildren.  This was tremendously disappointing to me for two reasons: 1) I 
would have thought that the membership would have been more responsive and 2) 
children meant children of all ages...adult children as well as 
young/adolescent children.  Obviously, I was wrong to assume or think along these lines.  

So, where do we go from here.  If people who love this style of music, and 
openly advocate the perpetuation of it, do not take a proactive role in its' 
future, how can we expect the younger audience to do so?  This time, I have no 

Lewis D. Custode, Jr., CLU, ChFC
Bourbon Street Brass, Buffalo, NY

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