Thursday, November 24, 2011

Are we (musicians) our own worst enemy?

I want to get these thoughts down before I slip into a food coma...

I have been thinking a lot about the current scene here in Rhode Island/New England and I realize...I have seen the enemy, and I am he. I always notice when I am playing, a lack of fellow musicians in the audience. This makes me grumble a least it did until I took an objective look at myself. When I am not working (which, like most of us, is more often than not these days) my behind is most often fused to my sofa watching Rachel Maddow or 30 Rock, NOT out at a club supporting my colleagues. This is unacceptable. If there is to be a sustainable jazz scene in Providence then it is up to us to support each other and this is a commitment I am making tonight. I have come to love Providence and I can see myself settling here someday. There is such potential here for a healthy creative music scene, but we need to get out of the house and support it. The commitment I am making: if there is live jazz happening and I am not working, I will be there. I have left too many of my friends and fellow musicians hanging...if I'm not on my gig, I'll be at yours.

A scene is created by showing up. I want to show up.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


1 comment:

Bob Bowlby said...

I think it's always admirable to support colleagues when they play a jazz gig, but I don't think that's what makes or breaks the jazz scene. Musicians coming to a colleagues gig is great for moral support and should definitely be done more often, but I think 3 reasons exist why most "jazz" gigs don't last long:

1.) Many people who frequent a "jazz" venue go there because THEY think they're being hip. The music is a backdrop to where they go to drink and talk while the band plays. And TALK they do! Right thru all parts of the music that should have a dedicated silence to show respect for the music. Now, there are some dedicated jazz listeners too, but I think they are a small percentage of the crowd at local venues, but I rarely see any respect for the performers in this setting from anyone. The "real" jazz audience alone is not enough to financially support live club gigs. Even the big jazz clubs in NYC only have "jazz" nights now and aren't exclusively jazz venues any more.

2.) I think there is some blame on many local bands/artists as well. Many times I hear unrehearsed jazz groups that go into a club and perform like it's a garage band jam session. Long solos that don't go anywhere and usually the whole group is very loud and/or disorganized. The worst part of this is that it leaves people who are new to jazz negatively thinking that this is what the music is all about. It's really crucial that the performance be a rehearsed and polished product. And that includes being well dressed!

3.) The "management" or powers that be at the venue usually self destruct any gig that is successful. All it takes is one slow night (sometimes because of weather or holiday or sports event) and they pull the plug on it immediately.

I don't see how this can change, as this is the same problem in NYC which is the supposed "mecca" of jazz in the U.S.