[Dixielandjazz] Adding Youthful members / or audiences

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed May 26 13:41:41 PDT 2010

> "Phil Wilking" <philwilking at bellsouth.net>
> If you will (can find a place to) play where teen-agers can hear you -
> perhaps shopping malls and such - and will play at tempos a human  
> can dance
> to - the young people will come - at first to jeer and then they  
> will start
> to dance. You have to seek them out, they are not looking for you.
> Tempos to dance to are critical, you are trying to be attractive to an
> audience which has never heard anything like you before and is  
> completely
> self-absorbed. They DON'T CARE how musically amazing you can be, so  
> save the
> virtuoso showing off with strange extended chords for the after- 
> hours jam
> session. The same applies to long announcements between tunes: they  
> don't
> care about the history, they want to polish their belt buckles. Use  
> old
> traditional jazz warhorses - King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, etc.,  
> they have
> strong rhythms and good melodies which will stick in the kids' minds  
> despite
> the raging hormone fog.
> Again, KEEP THE SPEED DOWN! Yes, through familiarity, it is going to  
> seem
> draggy to you - SO WHAT? Your object is to get the girls moving to the
> music. As soon as the girls start to move to the music, you have  
> found your
> proper tempo. Foot tapping is a beginning, but it isn't good enough,  
> you
> want full body movement. When the girls begin to wiggle, the boys  
> will join
> in. If they don't know how to Charleston or Black Bottom (and who  
> will?),
> they'll make something up on the spot and be very happy.
> I have seen it happen.

Right on Phil. Barbone Street sees it happen every summer. For proof,  
go to our myspace page, see our schedule for a look at the public  
places we perform at and then click on my pics. Once on the pics,  
click on swinging Thursday Night and see the audience involvement.  
Especially the YOUNG kids who are digging the band.


Yeah, that old guy kissing the swing dancers is me. It doesn't get any  
better than that. How many years did it take for OKOM festivals to get  
hip to swing dancers? Joe Hopkins has been preaching that for about 15  
years, and me for about 10..

BTW, if you click on the first band picture to enlarge it, you will  
see a 5 year old kid playing his toy electric guitar with the band. He  
is at far left, next to our guitarist. I can't tell you how thrilled  
he and his parents were that we got a chair for him and asked him to  
come on up on the bandstand. (He brought his guitar to the street  
festival because he had heard that live bands would be there.)

Your point  about venues is well taken. PLAY WHERE THE KIDS ARE. Easy  
to do as we proven for about 15 years now. Once we decided to market  
first to general audiences instead of jazz heads, we expanded our  
venues and our audience now includes very young kids, teens, 20  
somethings and all the rest.

Your point about kids not knowing how to Charleston or Black Bottom is  
also well taken. We played a High School Graduation party recently sat  
a local Country Club. The folks who hired us heard us at a street  
festival. The other kids who attended came up and asked us how to  
dance to the music. We said, just "free dance" to it. What ever you do  
will be correct. Just dance like nobody is watching. They did, and  
they had a ball.

IMO, the biggest problem we have reaching young audiences is that most  
of us don't try. That negativity becomes a self fulfilling prophecy  
and we end up believing that young audiences will not like OKOM.  
Nothing could be more wrong.

If we stop daring the audience to like the music, and start making it  
relevant to THEM, we will all have the kind of Summer Gigs Barbone  
Street has.

And yes, throw Mardi Gras beads. Many bands/leaders dissed our  
throwing of beads at public gigs. Too bad. Those bands aren't working,  
or are working for peanuts, while we are turning down gigs because  
we're just too damn old to take them all.

Steve Barbone

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list