[Dixielandjazz] RE:Jubilee 2006
julepjerk at surewest.net
Fri Jun 2 20:39:19 PDT 2006
Here are my comments/thoughts on the Sacramento Jubilee. I should note
that I have been to every one since the beginning, and have been
interested in the changes throughout the years.
The two tents, Riverfront Refuge and Turntable Junction, were great, and
the improved sound systems made a tremendous difference. I don't
understand why space was taken up with tables in Refuge, though - more
chairs could have been put in to increase capacity. The sets we
attended there were always totally filled and had people waiting
Crowds on the street seemed much smaller.
My wife has limited mobility, so she was disappointed that Cal Expo was
not available. We were confined to Old Sacramento, as she could not
walk to the buses to get elsewhere. Reasonably close parking was
difficult to find; most days I dropped her off and then went in search
of an available lot.
We never did get to the Jazz Superstore - its location was at the
farthest venue. Surely there was a place in Old Sac that could have
been used, like the vacant building across from the parking lot.
Biggest crowds were for zydeco and blues. Some trad bands have a large
following (Cornet Chop Suey, who filled Turntable Junction for an
incredible 10 am set on Monday and said that 500 people could not get
into their Louis Armstrong salute), but other trad bands draw small
crowds. It appeared that they scheduled some in between popular groups
(I assume to try and get new folks to listen), but it did not appear to
work. It must be disheartening for a band to see and hear a raucous,
energetic crowd for the preceding group and then watch 90% of the crowd
leave when they set up.
It would be interesting to get a demographic on the age of the audience
for various bands. It appears to me that trad skews very oldl Zydeco
had every age from babies to elders...
Possibly because of economics, there appeared to be a large cross-over
of musicians between bands. Maybe they were simply mixing and matching
to get enough groups to fill the venues.
One of the things we've always enjoyed is the interplay between bands
and musicians. The Zydeco groups seemed to have the most of this, with
the following group's musicians sitting in for the last song or two or
another musician coming up to join in the fun. It gives the music a
spontaneity and vitality that the musicians respond to, as well. Guest
artists are good for this as well, as long as they adapt to the group
and the set is not a paen to only them.
My impression is that the Jubilee is at a crossroads and needs to decide
what it "wants to be." Locals that I talk with associate it strictly
with Dixieland and do not attend for that reason. When I tell them
about the variety of music available, they have no clue. The Jubilee
was created as a trad festival, and little has been done to change that
image. A new publicity effort could be generated, a la the New Orleans
Jazz and Heritage Festival. Even the name of the sponsoring group,
Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society, leads folks to the trad image.
(Straw hats and red and white striped jackets--) Don't get me wrong -
they do a fantastic job and are invaluable. But if the Jubilee wants to
become something more, a different focus and image is necessary.
The volunteers were great and created an upbeat, positive atmosphere.
In a number of sets, individuals were allowed to stand in front of the
bandstand for a substantial period of time, blocking a view of the band.
Some of the folks are serial offenders from years past. One woman,
obviously highly intoxicated, was "pole dancing" at Freeway Gardens and
nearly pulled the tent down. Site managers or other volunteers should
be assigned to monitor activity close to the stage.
With a few exceptions, the "announcers" were terrible. They appeared to
be volunteers who were not sure what they were supposed to say, how to
use a microphone to be understood (mumbling doesn't work), or even what
bands they were introducing. It's amazing when they don't get the name
right, even if they've never heard the group before. (Talk with the
band leader in advance--) Limit the announcing to those who know what
they are doing and who know how to show enthusiasm.
The sound mixing was very erratic. When the mix was not right to start,
often the band would ask for adjustments. But, sometimes the mix was
horribly off and the sound crew didn't do anything. Surely they can
hear when the singer or one instrument cannot be heard. This has
happened for several years running.
Throughout the four days, we heard a number of folks around us
complaining that they could not find Mike Vax or his group.
Mighty Aphrodite is great.
I'll quit now and offer these observations for whatever they are
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