[Dixielandjazz] Elkhart Jazz Festival also (also long) (Very long)

Lowell Busching verbose at daktel.com
Wed Jun 28 02:10:11 PDT 2006

Note: I have mentioned in other emails about how I think the DJML should 
be used to help promote and improve the festivals that are still going 
for OKOM, as well as talking about the old music some call "Moldy Fig"., 
or how to produce it.  That is why I posted about the Elkhart Festival, 
and like Hal Vickery I am making some lengthy comments on it.  Delete 
now if you are not interested.  No need to suffer fools.

Hal and I did get together for a couple minutes at the Elkhart Festival 
this last weekend as he said. I have also attended that festival about 
as many years as Hal. It is the first time we met. Possibly 13-15 out of 
the 19 years at least in my case.

There are always surprises at the Elkhart Festival, whether it be the 
pairings of the musicians, great performances of some songs, or the more 
negative aspects of festivals that still exist after all those years 
both in Elkhart and at other long running festivals.

I am a strong supporter of the Elkhart Festival even if I am too cheap 
to buy a Patrons badge! Therefore, I am reluctant to dwell on the 
negative things, although I will mention one or two, at least.

Some musicians had 3-4 sets a day or session during the festival. 
Equally popular musicians, might get only one or two sets.  No reason I 
could see for that, nor was I offered any. None of my business. If 
festivals put as much thought into the scheduling as the logistics of 
putting on the festival, all would be better. Elkhart is RUN well.

I apologize to list mate Ed Metz for not making more of his sets over 
the weekend. So many venues, so little time! His choice of musicians 
once again was excellent, as evidenced by the Eddie Miller number his 
reed players did at my request as Hal mentioned. Frankly Hal, I do not 
remember if Fidgety Feet got any more applause then my request. Maybe we 
will have another "cutting contest" next year? I did HAVE "fidgety 
feet", however.

My own observations on the festival are as follows.

Sound: Considering this festival uses all "professional" sound people 
and equipment the sound quality and mixing was generally excellent for 
the audience, and with the varied venues. Not all were equal 
acoustically. The musicians will have to speak for themselves how it 
sounded on stage?

The rental on the sound equipment must have been staggering. Most venues 
could have got by on far less. Too many festivals for OKOM go over the 
top on the sound systems. Use the KISS method. Check with Kenny Davern.

The professionals tried to mike everything, but accepted it when OKOM 
musicians removed the mikes or set them aside except for announcing. Not 
all profession sound teams will accept that. A big plus for this one.

How am I sure they were professional sound people, besides seeing the 
massive amounts of pre amps, amps, filters, giant consoles, "cable 
snakes", and large speakers at some venues?


Prior to the last set on Sunday of the New Reformation Jazz band (with 
the co-leaders of Mighty Aphrodite and their bass player) in the largest 
venue, it took a sound crew of at least 6 people, plus a couple of 
production types with headsets and walkie talkies, about an hour to mike 
this standard size trad band!  As a sound volunteer I am expected to do 
that in 15-30 minutes AND start on time! Usually no help, and I am 
cheap! A free badge. Not even a room! I guess education does pay!

The sound people were also a "fashionable" 7 minutes late in starting a 
60 minute set while they got the last 2 mikes working!  Yes, I was 
timing them. The band was ready on time. The sound was well mixed at the 
start, however. No complaint there. Any more questions?  SOP

John Allred was the only scheduled musician of those I listed on the 
DJML prior to the festival that did not make it, due to his commitment 
in NYC for a recording. This left several sets with no trombone. His 
father, Bill, did cover a couple of those sets. This is why Hal did not 
see Bill listed in the program. Last minute substitution. The festival 
did not replace John officially. The slots were left open!

A couple sets with no trumpet/cornet scheduled also. Music minus one. 
The musicians did not complain. Will they complain? Naw! They want to 
come again next year. Don't make waves. You may be left out. Let it 
ride. It still sounded good.  More clarinet solos this way. What could 
be better?  Right Steve?

The musicians are treated well in Elkhart, I think those on the list 
will agree, and thus they seem willing to come back if invited. Other 
festivals should learn from Elkhart. The musicians are generally not 
overworked, but sometimes the scheduling can cause problems when they 
are! More equal scheduling is needed at all festivals.


At most festivals the top name listed for a set is generally meant to be 
the leader by the schedulers. Passing the lead to another player can 
cause problems with the sound people if not with the scheduler. 
Consistency is needed in listing leaders. The musicians were not told by 
the festival who would be the leader, so they used convention in most 
cases. Many were not aware they were to be the leader until set time!
Some found themselves leader several times. Many none.

This is an Ego issue if nothing else. The chance to call your favorite 
number that shows you at your best!  Excess pressure on the multiple 
leader to come up with numbers they all know. Multiple issues.

Does anyone on the list have an opinion on this? Could it be made a 
"festival law" much like certain beer drinking practices in the 
commercial are made "man laws"? :-)


Some of the highlights to me were Dan Barrett doing "Stardust" on his 
trombone, the versatility of Bob Haven's on songs you would not usually 
associate him with, and Kenny Davern on the blues numbers.  There were 
so many good solos by all of "our" musicians that to try to remember 
them all would be impossible. As to the more modern players, I will 
leave that to Hal.  HKOM. Sorry Hal. I missed Berg.  Maybe next time.

Over the years at Elkhart, like Hal, I have been amazed at what some of 
the musicians from other styles of jazz can do when by scheduling quirks 
they are "forced" to adapt. Professionals are professional. In the early 
years of Elkhart, it was mostly intentional by the music director at 
that time. I have always hoped they would go back to that format.  But 
for now I thoroughly enjoyed hearing so many of "our" top players.

Lowell aka Mad Dawg

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