[Dixielandjazz] Boy am I jealous

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 5 22:12:03 PDT 2009

Just returned home from playing at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem (PA,  
USA) in Drew Nugent's Dixieland Band which was advertised as a 20s  
style jazz band. While not part of the Bethlehem Musik Fest per se, we  
were on the northern edge of where all the action is. (1.5  to 2  
MILLION attendees is this MEGA MUSIC FESTIVAL during its 10 day run.

See http://www.musikfest.org/lineup/7-31.asp for their schedule.

We played from 6 to 9 PM in the hotel, going out on the sidewalk in  
front for 3 songs before each set to excite the passers by. And many  
passed by since Main Street is one of the main pathways to the mega  
sized music stages. I'm estimating that in that 3 hour time frame at  
least 10,000 people passed by with a few entering the hotel to hear us.

Demographics were interesting. About 80% were under 40 years old with  
some very young kids in the early evening because the street was  
closed off to vehicles and all sorts of vendors were on the sidewalks.  
Many teens anad 20 somethings.

Most of the remaining 20% were under 60.

Every time we went out to play on the sidewalk, we drew several  
hundred who listened and danced. I had brought Mardi Gras beads (even  
though many Jazz purists deride their use) because I knew the kids  
would go for them. Did they ever!!!!  I distributed 144 strings of  
beads in about 15 minutes running out during the third song. The teens  
clamored for them saying "What do we have to do for them, we can't  
flash in Bethlehem." Just shake your booty and dance to the music" I  
said." Once again did they ever. Wow, teens and young 20s dancing to  
the music of Fats Waller. Then, the older people complained that they  
too wanted beads so I handed them out to to 40+ ladies. etc., etc.,  
etc. And they danced also.

What fun. But boy I am jealous of these kinds of music fests. Because  
damn few jazz bands get to play at them. Drew's band is returning  
Thursday night (tonight) but I can't make it because my band is  
playing a retirement home. Oh well, sigh. Some lucky sub will have a  

Bethlehem may not get 2 MILLION attendees this year because of the  
economic times, but certainly well over 1 MILLION. With bands also  
busking on the streets as well as legitimately in the venues. That  
should give us all pause to wonder . . . If we weren't so damned  
protective of OKOM, if we targeted the young, would we be able to  
generate the good times that the Bethlehem Musik Fest generates among  

I still remember how much flak I got on the DJML about throwing Mardi  
Gras Beads as part of Barbone Street's shows in public venues, street  
fairs, etc. Some folks even said it cheapens the music. Wrong. It gets  
to the people who will be the new audience for OKOM if we will only  
let them.

Steve Barbone

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