[Dixielandjazz] Programme notes for a nice country hotel gig

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 24 20:28:28 PDT 2005

Jeffmatthews111 at aol.com wrote (polite snip)

> Basically, I want these  people who might not be jazz
> lovers, but curious and hungry, to go away with a  good impression and spread
> the good news that 'jazz' music can be  fun.

Hi Jeff:

Congratulations on getting the gig. I know you have worked hard for it.

Your thought above nails it shut. Your audience rules and you should deliver
that "good impression" and the fact that "jazz music" IS "fun".

Now the execution of that is another matter. Not being familiar with Brit
audiences, it is hard for those of us who are not Brits to give exact
information on your program. That being said here are some generalities.
(in addition to what we have discussed privately these past few months)

1) Sounds like you are background during dinner. be prepared to be just
that, part of the ambience, but not the main attraction.

Some may think you are too loud, some too soft. Don't take offense. Try for
the middle ground of pleasing most.

2) Try and figure out what your audience is like. That is not so easy.

Banter is good . . . make a connection. How else but by talking to them as
friends . . . make love to them verbally as well as musically.

Do not go in with a preconceived notion of what they like. Develop that
during the first few numbers. Audiences in the same venue may differ from
night to night.


We have a trio gig at a Wilmington DE USA restaurant 2 nights a month, 6 to
9 PM during dinner. Clarinet, Guitar, Bass. First night 10 swing dancer
followers showed up and danced. Lots of energy. We played hot dance, loud
swing etc. Rest of patrons got into it. Music and dancers became the main
attraction. Lots of banter, dancing and fun.

Second night, just dinner patrons. Table of blue hairs in the back requests
that we play more softly because; "They are old and want to talk." We
comply. Music that night was esoteric soft jazz. When they left, they
complimented us. 

MORAL; Play the music that pleases the audience, whomever that audience is.
Be flexible. Don't get mad if some one asks you to play more softly.

Last Saturday we had a wedding in a New Jersey Beach Resort Hotel. I notice
it is a small room with 7 tables of 8, one of which was for band and photog.
Gee, I think, this is going to be a drag even though bride had requested as
"1920" theme wedding. Wow less than 50 guests.

We start playing in trio form for first hour of dinner. Bride's uncle at
table closest to us asks me if I am Italian-American. I say yes, he says me
too. Can you do Italian songs? Sure, and so we do O Solo Mio, first as a
waltz and then in 4/4 swing time. People there now involved with us.

Then we bring on full band. Start with 1920's tune at Bride's request.
Alexander's Ragtime Band. People cheer when done. Hmmm. Dinner over, we do
Bride's dance, parents dance etc to 1920s tunes. Then everybody starts
dancing to "If I had You", Honeysuckle Rose" etc. Then Bride's uncle asks
can we do "Just a Gigolo" like Louie Prima. Sure. Trumpet player (Bing
Bonnaducci) sings it and when he gets to the "I ain't got no body" part he
screams out "Everybody". Guests all rise up like in Yellow Dog Blues and
sing that refrain with us.

>From then on it was a Katie Bar the Door blast. We do Darktown Strutter's
Ball and Bing sings it in both English and Italian. Several join in. Then on
to all of the warhorse tunes loud and fast. It became a really great party.
Folks in the main restaurant and bar area opened the doors to the room and
listened in, and danced in the bar area, etc. Handed out numerous cards to
the locals.

Bride loved it. Asked me to do band introductions, bios etc., like at a club
gig. Asked me if I had CDs to sell. I said I never bring them to a wedding,
but did have some in the car. Get them, she said, the guests will love to
buy them from you. OK . . . sold 12 CDs among an audience of 45 people,
including kids, husbands & wives, etc. Wish I could experience that ratio at
every venue. Would be selling 30,000+ a year.

Am I bragging, no just telling you what is possible if you figure out the
audience and make love to them.

Here, it was a party for the bridal couple and the guests as they were all
staying at the resort hotel overnight, having come from 3 to 5 hours away. I
never figured it would be such a blast until we started playing.


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