[Dixielandjazz] Elkhart Jazz Festival also (also long) (Very long)
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
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
More information about the Dixielandjazz