[Dixielandjazz] Young Musicians and Young Audiences

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri May 28 09:34:15 PDT 2010

Interesting points of view expressed by list mates.

Here's my 2 cents in 2 bullet points:

1) The festivals will have to change their marketing programs if they  
wish to attract young audiences.

It is not enough to have a youth band or 2 at an OKOM festival.  
Festivals have to figure out how to get the "kids" involved with the  
action. Like why not let the current crop of young bands, Cangelosi  
Cards, or Primate Fiasco, or Loose Marbles and all the others busk on  
the streets during a festival. These bands attract young followers who  
will dance to the music and have a great time. But do not expect the  
kids to sit passively at a festival listening. That is not "their  
thing", as we notice when we see videos of the music concerts they  

2) Investigate the venues where these bands currently perform.   
Cangelosi especially. Go there and see what it is they do. Then figure  
out how to incorporate them into a festival.

There is still a mind set out there that associates OKOM festivals  
with old fart bands in bow ties, suspenders and straw hats playing old  
time music. Even though this may no longer be what happens at  
festivals, that perception is still there. It needs to be changed. To  
see what Sacto Jazz Jubilee is doing about it, See below article from  

Rethink, reach out
The Sacramento Jazz Festival & Jubilee is moving in new directions

By Joe Martin

This article was published on 05.27.10.

Let’s admit it: You say the words “Sacramento Jazz Festival &  
Jubilee,” and the images that spring to mind are banjos, bow ties,  
Dixieland bands and peppy old gals with frilly umbrellas. Fine for  
some folk, but maybe not for you, right?

You know the festival draws some 60,000 to 70,000 people every  
Memorial Day weekend, thousands of whom drive in from out of state,  
and you’ve heard there’s more to it than Dixieland. You love live  
music, and you’ve been meaning to check it out, but somehow just can’t  
picture yourself doing the cakewalk down the Old Sacramento  
cobblestones with all those RV drivers just in from Sheboygan and  

It’s OK. We understand. But this year’s festival, the Sacramento  
Traditional Jazz Society’s 37th, offers more than enough reasons for a  

Perhaps more than ever, the STJS is reaching out to the broader  
Sacramento music community with this year’s festival, offering not  
only a wide range of jazz styles, but also an expanded selection of  
Latin music, zydeco, blues, funk, western swing, Rolling Stones-style  
rock and even tributes to Santana and Steely Dan. They’re also  
offering tickets for a recession-friendly 10 bucks to their series of  
genre-themed “party” events.

It’s all part of a conscious effort to rebrand the festival and appeal  
to a broader, younger audience, said Scott Kaufman, STJS marketing  

“We had noticed in the past that our numbers were trending downward,  
and we needed to figure out a way to make this music and this festival  
more accessible to everyone,” said Kaufman. “We’ve had this perception  
that we’re one thing—Dixieland music—and that’s really not the truth.  
We have blues, zydeco, swing, mainstream jazz, and we’ve expanded our  
Latin music this year. So we’re making a push forward to rebrand  
ourselves to be younger and hipper, because we have music that appeals  
to just about everybody in the community.”

A glance at the lineup confirms that, in addition to plenty of  
traditional jazz, the festival offers a virtually encyclopedic list of  
popular music styles. And why not? Just about all American music of  
the 20th century, from Aaron Copland’s classical compositions to  
salsa, rock, soul, blues, hip-hop and beyond, owes a direct debt to  
the musical miscegenation of early jazz musicians who bred rhythms  
from Africa and the Caribbean to song forms and harmonies from Europe  
and spawned a revolution that continues to this day. But never mind  
all that. The point is that this year’s festival offers a broader  
range of programming than ever, and if you can’t find something to  
like, well, you’re not really trying.

One significant area of expansion is Latin music. “We’ve always had a  
Latin band or two, but this is the first year we’re making a big  
push,” said Kaufman.

This year’s festival features Latin jazz group La Descarga!, the  
mariachi band Mariachi Los Gallos, and Caribbean-Brazilian jazz funk  
from the Bay Area Ray Obiedo & Mambo Caribe, who will all perform as  
part of a Latin Party on Sunday, May 30.

The Latin theme is also featured on Saturday, May 29, with a Santana  
Tribute by classic rockers the Rhythm Vandals. “Now there’s something  
people probably wouldn’t expect to see at the jazz festival,” said  

There’s also a Thursday Night Kickoff Party on May 27 with eclectic  
blues/soul band the California Honeydrops and funk from Aftershock;  
Friday night’s Zydeco Party with Zydeco Flames, Gator Beat and Tom  
Rigney and Flambeau; and a Saturday night Western Swing Party with the  
Quebe Sisters Band and Billy Mata & the Texas Tradition. Sunday will  
feature not only the Latin Party, but also a Blues Party with Catfish  
& the Crawdaddies, Sacramento Blues Revue, the Delta Wires and long- 
running local band Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers in a 25th- 
anniversary celebration show featuring special guests. And we would be  
remiss if we failed to mention that the festival will also include  
performances by Molly Ringwald, who in addition to being a film star  
and generational icon, has a long-running career as a singer that  
debuted at the Sacramento Jazz Festival when she was only 3. Ringwald  
and her group will be performing two sets of standards on May 29.

Tickets for the party events can be had for $10 from 8:30 p.m. on,  
which gives you plenty of time to take in the headliner and get your  
dance on. But if even a sawbuck is a bit much for you these days, you  
owe it to yourself to at least venture down to Old Sacramento during  
the Memorial Day weekend for a leisurely stroll and a chance to soak  
up some of the atmosphere and sample the free entertainment.

“People ask us every year: Is Old Sacramento closed off during the  
festival?” said Kaufman. “But it’s free and open, like any other day,  
except that there will be lots of music. We have our Opening Day  
Parade, and a Family Stage in one of the grassy areas that will have  
entertainment almost all day. We have musicians who will be playing  
throughout Old Sacramento on the streets. We’re hoping, with the $10  
tickets and the free events and the expanded range of things we’re  
doing, that we can introduce a whole new group of people to the  
festival and get them to experience what we’ve been enjoying all these  
years.”  END ARTICLE.

What about the future of OKOM? Heck, IMO it is in good hands with the  
younger bands. Most of us old folks just haven't realized that yet. In  
Philadelphia, we are blessed with young Drew Nugent and "The Midnight  
Society Jazz Band". He's playing 1920s/30s music with a group of young  
folks. His young clarinet player, Aaron Irwin is wonderful and on  
those rare occasions where I get to sub for him, I feel like the old  
grandfather, however it is a great pleasure to be there with young  
band mates, in front of a young audience in local clubs. They are  
expanding the audience for OKOM by playing where the kids are. Not too  
different from what my band does except that our average age is 72.  
(mostly because we use a 32 year old female trombonist. <grin>). The  
rest of us go all the way up to age 80.


Steve Barbone

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