[Dixielandjazz] Yoshi's Furor

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Sat Jun 2 00:10:22 PDT 2007

Hi Milt Steve et al:

As most of you know I live and work in this marketplace, and I know or do not know all of the loudest protesters being quoted in this article.

It is a crock of crap for the most part.  Why ?  Because it is not much more than Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson showing up to start some crap about why there are no Black Musicians on one or two specific projects.   Well firstly, none of the protesting musicians deserve to be on it in the first place.  Why?  because they are not much more if even local musicians who have never done anything other than play hand out gigs and local bars trying to be cool in the scene with an attitude that they deserve to be employed without any promotion of themselves or marketing of their services whatsoever.

I have only been to Yoshi's a handful of times since it opened many years ago, and the times that i did go it was to see great Name Black artists that deserved to be playing in a first class Jazz establishment.  I have seen Dee Dee Bridgwater there, McCoy Tyner several times, Taj Mahal, Lester Bowie, and others who have earned International notoriety and respect as world Class Jazz artists and "GOD FORBID"  SELL ENOUGH TICKETS to pay for their performances.

Yoshi's is a Japanese Restaurant with a nice 300 seat Jazz room because the Japanese folks who own it saw a need for a great jazz club in this market because no Black Business person could or would open and operate one successfully.

The local artists are always bad mouthing any club or establishment that won't hire them, and often even bad mouth the ones that do hire them.   

"Most musicians spend 90% of their lives trying to get a gig and the other 10% trying to get fired from it"

To call an establishment like Yoshi's a racist operation is simply total BULLSHIT, if it were not for them there would be NO place in the bay area for Quality Black Artists to even play, and they have been so successful that they are opening another club in the Fillmore District in San Francisco.

The only act I have ever gone to see at Yoshi's that was not Black was sometimes listmate Mike Vax with his big band.

Their audience however is primarily an upper eschelon Academic one made up of lawyers, Judges, and Music Professors and their students all into the academic IAJE mindset.

So the argument  here is the exclusion of the local  Black hip cat wannabes who feel that they are being excluded because they are Black with no clue about the fact that they could not sell three tickets to anybody to come and hear them.

Proving once again that talent folks is only 10% of the game, and certainly does not entitle one to a living in this business.

I attended an evening two nights ago in the heart of West Oakland where this article was being applauded and discussed by an all Black audience in attendance except ME and big talk was bantered around about the culture and how WE HAVE TO GET THIS SELF EMPOWERMENT MOVEMENT GOING " AGAIN",  I say that because I have been thru it at least once every five years with the same folks and a few new faces usually unemployed hip players form New York who could not make a living there either.  By the way the reason I went was to see and hear the Rebirth Brass Band again and hang out with them, they got caught up in this BS and agreed to play for Free, and the two bit organizer hustler blasted out on the internet that they would be playing there for free.  He was trying to sell $100.00 a year memberships to his new Social club  like the ones they used to have in New Orleans.

Total shuck and Jive operation, he was also selling wine and Cognac with no liquor license or permit, and red beans and rice with no kitchen and certainly no health department permit to operate a food serving business.   Breaking every law and ordinance in the city yet yelling rhetoric about how the cities always wanna shut down the little Black Man running a business in the name of being a cultural and self empowerment organization.  First of all he probably won't be in business long enough for anybody foolish enough to give him $100 for a membErship to get $30.00 WORTH OF USE FROM IT.   AND SECONDLY HE WILL CERTAINLY NOT BE CREATING ANY EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES THAT PAY ANY OF HIS BRUTHAS AND SISTAS.    He announced before Rebirth played the First set that they would be passing the hat to collect appreciation money for the band, yet he never did it the first set and I left towards the end of the second set and he still had never mentioned it again.  So he took undue advantage of a great band and screwed them for his own cause, all the while preaching about the injustice to Black musicians and artists, and of course citing Yoshi's as the root and cause of all this evil problem.   He had a room full of malcontents applauding him and his new found cause.   Oh yes there was one other White person in the room, a reporter for the Oakland Tribune, who I gave a package to on my upcoming show in Oakland which hired almost all Black American musicians proving once again that their argument is Bullshit.   It's all in who you listen to and who gets in the press.  It is too bad that these folks can't find a way to positively get into the press and media rather than simply trying to play the Race card on every issue that comes up where they don't get chosen to be part of the program.  Not that they even bothered to research and know that the opportunity even existed.  most of these artists are sitting around at home waiting for the phone to ring and someone to come find them and their great talent.

That also included a few names in this article that I happen to know very well and appreciate and respect as players, but that is all they are Players and Educators who can't buy a gig for more than $100.00 a night because they are looking for them in all the wrong places.

Have Black musicians been passed over for gigs, you bet, but at the same time there are far more White ones that have been passed over too not because they are White but because the competition factor is so much larger for gigs than any of them of any color remotely even understand.  Many of them are products of the same system of IAJE and there is only so much room in the clique for new members, and they simply do not understand how many years they have to wait in line to get into that clique.

Kind of like trying to get into the Traditional Jazz Society clique.  just a different group.

The artists who rise to the top are the one with marketing and promotion to the masses on a consistent basis that then get up and deliver a show to the audience that makes them come back for more.   Being a musical genius and talented and Black or White has little to do with any of it.

Lots of people Have "IT" but have no Idea what to do with "IT"  so nothing happens to "IT".

Cheers,  Wannabes come in all colors and levels of expertise :))

Tom Wiggins
St.Gabriel's Celestial Brass Band

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