FW: [Dixielandjazz] Street Corner Music

Elazar Brandt jazzmin at actcom.net.il
Fri Apr 9 21:18:22 PDT 2004

>Here's to the street musicians.<

Here, here!

Spring is bursting out here in Jerusalem (oops, is that a poor choice of
words?), and the Doctor Jazz band is beginning to hit the pedestrian mall again.
The street version of our band is now 3-4 people who are fairly steady, and we
sometimes add a singer or other 5th wheel. My 2 primary partners in crime are my
own students, Israeli college students about 25 years old. Some of you know what
a joy it is to stand and deliver with your students, and to do a good enough job
to not only make a few shekels, but to get hired for gigs, to have policement
put shekels into our hat, and to get called by the city to play in public

We have a whole installation when we set up -- banjo, slide trombone, tuba,
cornet, bass trumpet, washboard and other small percussion instruments,
sometimes a highhat cymbal set...

It is true that you have to get used to being a bit vulnerable out there, but
with a little practice we learn to cover each other's backs, to protect the axes
and the hat with the money, and to define our space so that most passers-by will
respect it. We even have a bit where we play the Saints and march out from our
space and do a modest circle around and through the crowd. They love it, and at
least in Jerusalem, people will help us keep an eye on our stuff when we do

Once one of the students led the march instead of me, and he headed merrily down
the block. I had to holler at him to turn back, and later explained that we
NEVER turn our backs on the money and equipment. There is only so much risk I'm
willing to take.

Sure, you get people who come and want to try the horns, and some will just pick
them up without asking. We have learned to respond pretty quickly, before the
mouthpiece hits a foreign mouth. I tell people they can play my horn if I can
kiss their wife/girlfriend. They usually get the message. At least so far nobody
has ever tried to take me up on the offer!

We don't get rich out there, but if we devoted enough time to it, we could make
the beginning of a decent living. But it's great publicity, practice, training
for new students or new band members, and for us it's a way to have fun where we
make money instead of spend it.

By the way, Jim, I have gone places where I'm not comfortable taking a good
instrument. In such cases, I have cheaper, older axes I could hit someone with,
or that could get run over by a truck, and I wouldn't worry about them. Works
for me.

But the street is still our favorite steady gig.

Misrad HaJazz
Doctor Jazz Band
Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: +972-2-679-2537

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