[Dixielandjazz] The Wonder of "Modern Jazz Festivals

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 31 17:07:24 PST 2003

Things are starting to pop with Barbone Street and Modern Jazz
Festivals. And so I urge those of you with similar bands to explore
similar opportunities.

As you know, there aren't a lot of OKOM Festivals in our part of the
world. And so a few years ago,  Barbone Street went after the "modern"
jazz festivals and the "blues" festivals. Now, a few years later, look
at what happened. In addition to our normal gigs, we play the following
festivals annually all within 80 miles of Philadelphia, PA, USA.

West Chester University Jazz Festival - Headliner status - 1200 seat
Berk's Jazz Festival - Headliner Status - 500 seat venue.
Clifford Brown Jazz Festival - Headliner Status - 5000 seat venue
Rehoboth Jazz Festival - Headliner Status - 1000 seat venue
Turk's Head Music Festival - Headliner Status - 5000 seat venue
Media Blues Festival - Headliner Status - 500 seat venue
Dover Down Jazz Festival - Headliner Status - 1000 seat venue
PLUS a bunch of headliner single concert venues seating up to 5000.

Last year at Berks, we played with Preservation Hall. This year at
Berk's we played with Dirty Dozen Brass Band. This year at Clifford
Brown, we play with Preservation Hall Jazz Band (June 17). These are
"Mardi Gras Nights" at otherwise 7 or 10 day long "Modern Jazz"
Festivals. How did this happen?

We went to the festival managers and suggested a change of pace. Why not
add a Mardi Gras night to your modern, smooth, or blues festival? Sure
they were skeptical at first, but once it started rolling, there was no
stopping it. You see, those festivals have the same problems OKOM
festivals have and are looking for new music and new fans. And guess
what, OKOM and OKOM fans are "new" to them. We draw more people. We make
a profit for them.

So I urge other band leaders to get out and talk to the "modern"
promoters. You too will find that as soon as the first one clicks, the
rest will fall in line.

Yeah, it took us three years, but so what? Now we are working and we're
headlining, right next to Preservation Hall, Dirty Dozen, Bela Fleck,
Boney James, Gato Barbieri, Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band, Jon Faddis,
Mulgrew Miller, Cyrus Chestnut, Branford Marsalis, The Rippingtons,
Chuck Mangione, Dave Samuels, Randy Brecker, and now at Clifford Brown
this June, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Herbie
Hancock, Kenny Barron and Arturo Sandoval.

I wouldn't claim to be as good, or as well known, or as professional as
they are. But I would claim to be as good a marketer as they are. To the
audience, our performance is every bit the equal of theirs. We get hired
back, more often than any other band I know of. And I would also claim
that we are "relatively" famous in our territory, though this sparked
some debate the last time I put forth that claim, ;-)

Bottom line? There are one huge amount of "Modern Jazz" or "Smooth Jazz"
or "Blues" Festivals out there that could use a dose of OKOM. A Mardi
Gras Night. Or? If we were a traveling band, I'd get an agent and raise
hell worldwide with Barbone Street. But we are retired and relaxing.
We're doing enough locally at 160 gigs a year. But how about you younger
guys with that fire in the belly? Can you see the opportunity? Yes, you
can make money, have fun and be artistic at the same time.

Steve Barbone

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