My wife and I like going to the big jazz festivals. Most musicians are better in person than on CD because of the interaction with larger crowds. They even take the opportunity to enjoy (and sometimes play with) the other performers. Many in the audience get exposed to artists that they might never have heard and become new fans.
But it’s not just the music. One of the things we really enjoy is the opportunity to get to know the other attendees after the music and between shows. The people around us are there for the same reason as we . . . the music! I find we have much in common with all these strangers. Though we come from different backgrounds, knowledge and interest in the finer points of the art, we find it easy to strike up conversations. We have a chance to get acquainted with people we have met on chat pages. We also have a chance to get reacquainted with some old friends we’ve met over the years.
Looking around the venue, it is obvious that we are not alone in this. People are enjoying meeting and visiting with each other all over. It’s a big part of the fun! It could even be part of marketing… “Hear great music, meet great people…” But the staff at these venues have room for improvement. They don’t seem to get it. Between shows they play “bumper” music so loud that we can’t visit with friends, old or new. Invariably a local DJ named Shreaka Acidbreath will take the mic and scream at the audience. I have no idea WHAT gave her the idea we all want to hear her as loud as we just heard the Rippingtons.
One of the great things about Smooth Jazz artists is that they all make it a point to be really accessible to their fans. If you go to a Smooth Jazz concert and want to hang around and meet the artists, chances are really good that you will have an opportunity. One of the few downsides of the festivals is the fact that there are multiple artists and much larger crowds making meet-and-greets more difficult.
I want to give a nod to the security personnel. Their job can be very challenging, and most balance their priorities well. Their job is to protect the performers and the property; some enjoy the power a little too much. They are used to rock concerts involving youth, gangs, drugs and worse, but the Smooth Jazz crowd is a calmer breed. In contrast to Shannon’s shocking confessions in “On the Lighter Side” last month, I have yet to see a need for a bouncer. We don’t do mosh pits.
We have, on more than one occasion, had security personnel try to stop us from bringing our camera into a venue that allows them... hence the message on the website and ticket, “cameras allowed.”
We have also been accosted by a rare “Seating Nazi” for taking pictures while wearing press credentials. “Yes, I AM taking pictures. This is a PHOTO pass. After the concert could we discuss the often misunderstood Bill of Rights?!”
Wouldn’t it be nice if the security and venue personnel (and radio announcers) would just settle back and relax and let us “hear great music and meet great people?”
- Randall Ware
*With apologies to
Roberto Duran's "no mas!"