[Dixielandjazz] Re: PS. Heaven's to Mergatroid? was Black Dog Band

Jeanne Brei TinPanAlleyCat at cox.net
Sat Jan 8 22:34:36 PST 2005

Hey Tom Cat Wiggins,

    Whenever I get the funds to put together a band -- I always call them my
Tin Pan Alley Cats -- and one time I actually contemplated doing a set of
"cat" songs -- including Alley Cat, Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat, Open Up The
Doghouse Two Cats are Comin' In, etc. I must admit, though, I never
considered calling myself Thunder Pussy or doubling as a stripper (even if I
DO write and perform shows in Las Vegas)

    And by the way, I'm looking forward to meeting you at Sacramento this
year (I do hope you're going!) I used to host the Access Sacramento TV shows
and do a two-minute interview with the bandleader or singer just before
their set to start the show (before Roger decided that he didn't want to
give Access Sacramento TV rights). Talk about short-sighted! If he'd really
been smart, he would have insisted that Access Sacramento give every band a
free VHS tape of their taping (it was a very professional, three to four
camera shoot and smart bandleaders could have used those hour long shows for
video on their websites, marketing packages, etc. and saved thousands of
dollars in their PR/marketing expenses). In exchange for hosting for free, I
would go back during the summer and copy some of the shows onto VHS tapes
and I'd send them to some of my favorite bands -- including the Sin Sity
Suitz and the Titan Hot 5 (when I interviewed them -- 7 now).

    Which brings me back to the Black Dogs successors -- it was really fun
watching two bands battle over the title this last year -- Titan Hot 7
became the hottest showband in the land when they added Jeff Barnhart & Bob
Draga a couple of years ago and this last year Cornet Chop Suey has really
given them a run for their money. Both of those bands REALLY work on their
schtick -- Bob's always thinking of things he can do so that an audience
who's been watching him for years can see something they've never seen
before -- he's an entertainer beyond compare on the circuit (I remember the
first time I saw the bit where he ends up upside down with a bandmate
pouring water down his pant leg -- and he comes back wearing a tablecloth -- 
it was SO well done that I thought it really was spontaneous! And Brian
really structures the Cornet Chop Suey sets to get the maximum number of
standing ovations in one set - from their Over The Rainbow played standing
interspersed in the audience to the West Side Story medley to the Donut
Blues or the Who's Gonna Chop My Suey?

      The next step is getting all of these bands MORE air time on
television, radio, movies, etc. - not less - which is what Roger did. I
would encourage bandleaders to call the local Public Access stations in the
towns that have really great festivals and see if any of the interns have an
interest in jazz or would like to come down and check out the festival - a
few free passes could end up in a show the following year - and since the TV
producer has to get the band's permission to air them, the band should make
sure that they request a tape of the show and the rights to use it for their
marketing (normally you only have to agree to give credit since no one's
making any money with Public Access).

      I was the associate producer/writer for four PBS shows last year (they
only aired in Las Vegas) and they were called "Dancin' Nevada. As often as
possible, when I'm scoring the television show, I'm using bands CDs from the
Dixieland circuit  - I want to get as much exposure to everyone as I can.and
someday, hopefully that will turn into money for everyone.

      And I was really surprised when I was going to festivals during the
swing craze (the couple of years that the Gap commercials featured swing
dancers) and more festivals didn't send out a fax to all the dance studios
in their local town inviting the kids down to a free night at the festival
(whatever night they have the "big band/swing" event --- most of the swing
kids were in their late teens and were just the right audience to start
courting for the future of festivals.

      I was really disappointed when the Sacramento crowd decided to do a
festival in Las Vegas - I was really excited about being able to work on
setting up a festival but I was told that it was all being done in
Sacramento and no local help was required (not even volunteers - since the
casinos supplied all the door people, etc.) And of course, it never occurred
to them that you can't have outside venues like parking lots (like they do
in Sacramento) in 110 degree heat in Vegas in June - so the first year was a
bust. And the second year didn't go much better - since they didn't hire
even ONE local jazz band that would have had a following or would have had
flyers out so that people would know it was happening. And, of course, Joe
Q. Public doesn't know anything about the Dixieland circuit bands - and
although they publicized a jazz festival - they didn't mention any song
titles (so it could have been a Kenny G kind of event for all anyone knew).
Oh, well. Sometimes it almost feels like a lost cause. But the music is SO
much fun and the musicians are so awesomely talented and it's music that the
world NEEDS so much - that it keeps me trying to think of ways to promote it

Jeanne Brei
Tin Pan Alley Cat Entertainment
(702) 254-3832 / jeannebrei at cox.net

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