[Dixielandjazz] Berk's Jazz Fest

benny theiler bennyth at ev1.net
Fri Mar 28 10:49:17 PST 2003

Steve:  After reading your article "Berks Jazz Fest"...I am curious - I have
never heard your group and would like to.  What is the CD titled?- what are
the selections, and who are the artists?  I am asking much, but curiosity is
getting the best of me.  Inquisitively, Benny.........

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stephen Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
To: "Dixieland Jazz Mailing List" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2003 8:58 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Berk's Jazz Fest

> Yesterday we did our "double" at the Berk's Jazz Festival. First over
> lunch in a restaurant and then a 7:30 PM Headliner opener for the Dirty
> Dozen Brass Band.
> To recap Reading, it is a 10 day "modern" jazz fest in Reading PA, USA,
> a city of 85,000 people. They spread out the performances in 42 venues
> and there are 121 separate performances this year. 45 were "ticketed"
> events by "headliners and cost anywhere from $10 to $45 per performance.
> The rest were free, except that you have to buy lunch or dinner in a
> club setting. Their line up is Smooth Jazz, Blues, Modern Jazz and this
> year, 3 OKOM bands plus the Dirty Dozen. (Some top jazz names perform
> there)
> Our lunch gig was sold out months in advance with approximately 190
> people. Very successful, ovations after each solo and after each tune.
> Standing Ovation at end of gig. As good as it gets in a restaurant with
> no liquor license.
> Our opener for Dirty Dozen was extraordinary. It was the best "concert"
> crowd reaction I've experienced as a performer since a concert I did
> with Roy Eldridge on the shore of Long Island at Southampton in the
> 1950s. We were in a concert setting in the ballroom of the Lincoln Plaza
> Hotel, with about 450 audience at $30 a head for 45 minutes of Barbone
> Street and 45 minutes of Dirty Dozen. Two other headliners that night
> had ticket prices of $16 and $18 so we were happy at the crowd size, not
> quite a sell out.
> Everything clicked from the very beginning. The program director from
> the local radio station introduced us. She is just over 5 feet tall,
> slim and beautiful, dressed in jeans and a black tank top with many
> beads which we draped over her prior to going on. (We met her last year
> and are friends) She tells audience "these 6 old guys have 294 combined
> years of jazz experience".
> I grab the mike and say, "Yeah, we are the Antique Road Show , here in
> Reading tonight. They let us out of the home till midnight." Big laugh
> and the drummer immediately goes into a street beat roll off and we go
> into Bourbon Street Parade. Cheers and whistles on each solo which
> energizes the band. Huge cheers and whistles at end of song which set
> the tone for the rest of our 45 minutes.
> We do our usual "connect" routines and on the third song in, I sing "I
> Want A Little Girl" to gal who announced us. Lyrics are a perfect fit,
> as she runs up on stage with us and stares into my eyes as I sing to
> her: "She don't have to wave her hair", while stroking her very straight
> hair; "Or dress in fancy clothes" while standing back and
> looking/pointing to her jeans and black tank top. Etc. At end of tune,
> she gives me a hug and kiss and darts off the stage while the crowd goes
> nuts.
> Rest of numbers were up tempo and the crowd was giving us so much energy
> feed back it just got better and better. At end of program, (Sweet
> Georgia Brown, which includes a "big band riff / drum solo on the first
> out chorus) they leaped to their feet and gave us a full 30 seconds of
> standing ovation, whistles, stomping etc.
> As we tried to leave the hall, we were besieged for autographs by the
> younger audience members and requests for CDs by the older members. I
> had pre printed CD order forms and left all 50 on the sales table. I
> also left all 100 schedules on the table. Today, when calling the table
> volunteers for a count. All CD order forms and schedules were taken by
> attendees.
> I never did get to hear The Dirty Dozen, because all of us in the band
> were just blown away by what happened and we went out celebrating with
> some friends.
> Like I say, I haven't experienced anything like that in 50 years with a
> concert audience, and Berk's asked us to save the date for 2004. All of
> the sweat equity and promotion we've put into our performance persona
> seems to be paying off big time. It was an unbelievable day for all of
> us in the band and we're talking about guys who have done some big time
> gigs in their younger days. We can hardly wait for our concert at a
> local High School tomorrow night in the hope that we can do it again.
> And for Sydney's in Rehoboth Beach DE, for Louis Armstrong's birthday
> bash where we get a "club" crowd reaction that's tops too.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
> PS. The radio station will plug our CD all year as soon as I get the
> copies. How lucky can one get?
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