[Dixielandjazz] Re: Play Where the Kids Are

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Sun Dec 21 09:36:05 PST 2003

on 21/12/03 9:13 AM, Elazar Brandt at jazzmin at actcom.net.il wrote:

> Shalom Jazz Fans,
> I just turned 50 myself not too long ago, so I figure I have some time left to
> promote our music. It didn't take me long to realize
> that finding old English speaking audiences in Israel to play for is NOT the
> way to go. Rarely can I get those folks out, even
> personal friends, even when the gigs are cheap or free, and precious few of
> them hire me for any worthwhile gigs. I decided some
> time ago to try to find Israel young people, maybe 16 - 30 years old, who want
> to play, or learn to play instruments that I can get
> them started on, which means banjo or brass horns. I've been buying up
> inexpensive playable instruments as I find them, and
> recruiting students and young players as I find them. It takes time, since I
> also have to work for a living until my jazz cruise
> ship comes in.
> But a couple years ago, I hit the jackpot. An Israeli kid who used to listen
> to me play banjo downtown got out of the army and
> decided he wanted to learn. He worked hard, and did his first on stage
> performance with me -- a 45 minute show -- about 4 months
> after his first lesson. Having him on banjo frees me up to play horns,
> although we do some 2-banjo stuff too. I've settled into tuba
> and trumpet when we're working as a duo, and we take our turns on kazoo,
> washboard, or other interesting axes as the situation calls
> for. Now, two years after that show, we have 4 hours of memorized repertoire
> that we can play consistently in the groove, we have
> 2-3 other players under 30 who work with us sometimes, and I have a trombone
> student coming up the pike who is almost ready to take
> on certain paid gigs, but not yet the bigger ones, and another banjo student
> getting started.
> Well, guess what! These kids have energy that we've forgotten about long ago.
> They have friends. Their friends like the music. We're
> getting invited to play at Hebrew University, local pub-type hangouts I don't
> even know about, where young Israelis hang out. And
> they like us too. We're getting paid jobs, and getting invited back for repeat
> business. They have friends who are getting married,
> or who have brothers and sisters who are having bar or bat mitzvahs. My guys
> are getting a taste of being able to work an evening
> for $100 - $150 and have fun, versus sweating all day for $25. All of a
> sudden, we're killing a whole bunch of birds with one stone.
> Young players, customers, audiences... they're out there. We just have to find
> where to plug into their scene.
> We played at Hebrew University a couple weeks ago, just 2 half hour sets in
> the student center between classes (with a 1 1/2 hour
> down time between) for about $25. Not worth it, you say? Waste of time? You
> should have seen the hall full of students stopped in
> their tracks to listen, smiling, clapping, dancing, grooving along with us,
> lining up to take cards. We got a paying gig for our
> trio playing for an outstanding student awards ceremony out of it, and we're
> getting calls for New Year's Eve. No, sir, I don't turn
> these little jobs down. They can be a gold mine.
> So don't give up. Get out where the young people are, and play for them for
> free if you have to until you get a few of them hooked.
> Have business cards and CDs ready. Have an instrument or two that you can let
> people try out with you on the spot. Washboards are
> great for that. But I've had some success with horns too. Teach a kid to play
> one note on cue, then play a song where you can
> feature him on that one note for a "solo" and watch him, his family and
> friends, and your whole audience light up. Let a kid who can
> count to 4 strum the banjo while you play the chords. I've done whole songs
> that way with kids under 10 years old. You might just
> end up with a new student, a customer for a horn, and another young soldier in
> the ranks. You never know until you try.
Dear Elazar,
Love your dedication and attitude.
In this mad, mad, mad world you are a ray of Jazz Sunshine.
"More power to you" (as Pops said on a record in 1931).
If there were other like you in our trouble hot-spots, we would have no need
to worry.
Very kind regards from Sydney, Australia,

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