Djangofest Free for All Festival

Posting ID : A1068480076
Date Posted : 2015-08-18
Category : Musicians

UPDATE: So far, there is a good response to this. Please let me know if you have a group that wants to play.

August 11, 2015
Hello (warning, more than 140 characters):

For the third year in a row, the school will try to provide venue for workshops, jamming and a Saturday afternoon concert during Djangofest, one of the premier international festivals for Django, gypsy jazz, swing-manouche style music (September 23-27). I am making an unfounded & unproven assumption that people might want to do this.

I hope to recruit any local gypsy-swing groups to volunteer to be in a line-up for a concert on Saturday afternoon. Also, any experienced players who would drop by or bring their friends, that would be great. A midnight performance would be totally fantastic! With some local participation as well as highlighting our local talent at an international festival, new people from Seattle might show up to join the fun.

Generally, the worthy goals of Djangofest support Django music at the international (European) level and to make money doing it, much of which goes back into the worldwide nonprofit support of Django music. We are fortunate to have someone like Nick Lehr the promoter who has dedicated his life to bringing that music to people around the world. The cost of tickets is justified to an extent because these world-class musicians deserve to be paid and honored for their efforts and travel expenses eat up a lot.

Past efforts to organize jamming and workshop activities during Djangofest have been disappointing despite folks saying I have a good thing going. I have talked to the promoter since 2000 and for years have suggested ways to reach into both the Langley community and into the local Seattle music community to gain more interest and more community activities around Django music and jamming.

For one thing they have international stars teaching workshops and why in the world would they want a two-bit local operation to teach new people who are just learning about the music or to teach something advanced that competes the with star workshops...?

Both Djangofest and Wintergrass let me know there was no place for the workshop school and it is hard to compete with book and earring vendors. There are no workshops for beginners, but it is probably still worth it for a new person to attend workshops by international stars. Their experience and views on music are inspiring and helpful. However the school will sponsor a "new player" workshop and it would be so great to have some experienced players passing on their knowledge and mini-legacy as someone devoted to the music in a no-cost setting.

Workshops for beginners are important for more reasons than the obvious. Many people are looking for an access point to Django music or any music to learn and enjoy and find a respite from busy lives. In the workshop, people are introduced to Django style swing and they love the music right away. For performers, all of these people are rock solid hard-core fans in the making as they are introduced to and play the music. If new people are introduced, educated and coached/taught in an efficient consolidated approach, their ability to particulate and/or play is accelerated. Perhaps more fans from Seattle at the few gypsy gigs around town so people who practice and devote their life can get paid.

Many of the fans of the music are musicians striving to learn and enrich their lives. In Django style music, the word beginner or new player represents an entire world of people who want to develop serious music in this technically oriented genre. But it is not just for the virtuostic-minded. We have players in the jams & workshops who enjoy learning and playing good rhythm as well as singing some of the tunes and includes instruments like ukuleles.

Two years ago, the final word from the promoter was to do whatever I wanted consistent with the aforementioned goals. The festival is enough to deal with which is understood. But the workshop school events require no effort or money on the promoters part even if it could be a value-added activity to their marketing or engagement of the community. Perhaps they could drop a twitter sized honorable mention in the program, or an announcement after the concert to go over and jam at Callahan's Firehouse, the workshop venue.

One local activity that is promoted at the nightly concerts is to send people over to one bar anointed as the place to jam after the nightly concert, which usually has noise restrictions because it's located in a small-town neighborhood with neighbors who can't sleep with people playing annoying djangly music. All night jams are usually happening at private parties and the town just shuts down, as I know waiting for people to drop by the last two years.

I have the support of one central Langley community-oriented person named Callahan who owns the high-end glass-blowing works at Callahan's Firehouse. He was referred to me by one of the people on the Langley City Council, another supporter in principle, who agreed more local attention would be good for the town. The former Langley firehouse is located exactly in the center of town within 5 places of getting a latte' or bacon and eggs or groceries...and other jams.

Callahan sponsored the school/jams last year, but the event I promised him never really materialized and not one piece of glass was broken and we even sold a couple pieces at 3am. But he gets it and is all for it. I might also mention he is not financially motivated to do this. All weekends are tourist weekends and this one is no different....if anything there is more risk if we knock over a piece of glass art. He has assured me the glass is much stronger than it looks.

On the back side of his shop, there is a garage for fire engines where we can do indoor jams or put the performers or take respite in rain. Out the back is the tarmac with a lovely landscaped area where we can set up canopies, lawn chairs, coolers & bbq's. We could offer a space for food vendor or booth; contact me with ideas. A booth or food concession would help attract folks. If you are having a bake sale, come on down and set up to raise money for the PTA or the coed soccer team.

For many people, the cost of Djangofest is prohibitive. I attended one show for $70 last year and it was worth it and I'm glad the musicians are getting paid. Also, many people who are not old hands at Djangofest and can't afford 2 concerts and workshops a day don't know where to go or hang out or how to find more jams than the one with super good players in the middle of town....if it is sunny. If it rains, you hope you know someone with a hotel room or place to go.

Perhaps if there was more to do that didn't break the bank for people like some of the financially challenged friends and musicians in the known community, then more people might elect to participate in the music and festival. This could be a growing fun event every year!

Nice camping is available, I would add there is a super-good guy named Fritz who since the start of the festival has set up at the fairgrounds to create a Samois-like gypsy campout to enjoy the community and play around the campfires. That is also a good place for people to camp for 10/night, clean showers included. Fritz has a pretty regular following of people willing to leave central Langley one mile away to enjoy the music and the jams go pretty late.

2 years ago, I rented the fairground Blue-Ribbon 4H Cow & Chicken Building for $500 to host late night jams and workshops if people would come. I had complete hospitality with food and drink and libations, a PA system for performing & workshops, and nice room where you could jam all night. Everything was free; not even a donation jar was out. It rained most of that festival so I was overjoyed things might liven up with people looking for shelter. Usually food, drink and shelter will get musicians, even super-good ones, to show up.

My most successful interaction that year was a grandma and her two teenage grandsons who I coached into playing Django licks on guitar within an hour as in minor swing. Neither of them had ever played guitar before and it was fulfilling to have them leave amazed they could do that. Grandma was beaming proud she had such talented boys. That was the true highlight of that festival and reminded me that the goals of the nonprofit music school are alive and well if only in one vacation to Grandma's house.

So this may not be the right thing for this festival and people can let me know, because there aren't a lot of Grandmas and teenagers attending Djangofest.

Before investing resources/efforts, I hope to confirm that there are people interested in performing on Saturday afternoon, people helping, people who can organize food to share, jammers and just general interest in starting something that might even last beyond this year. Usually I try to have everything ready so people can just think about music, but perhaps more volunteer involvement will get more people there.

The project name is the Djangofest Free For All Festival Project. Maybe I can get the lawyer's attention if I use their name in my advertising and that will cause a ruckus and perhaps someone will use hashtags and short quippy statements to generate likes and followers to increase traffic flow at the Djangofest Free For All Festival.

I realize the honest truth of the matter is that there are just not that many people out there. I just read a forum comment on that said the big cities have 10 to as many as 20 guitar players in a city like New York. True or not, it just makes the point that there aren't that many people who play or listen to this music. However, the worldwide phenomenon is in order with perhaps 12,000 guitar players and usually when people hear the music for the first time, they like it or love it.

This would might help the school which is hoping to gain an elusive viability as plans are updated to try different approaches; sorry about that. However, the bottom line is good fun and music with our friends and guests!


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