Re: [Harp-L] Garden State Harmonica Club Festival

On Aug 3, 2009, at 8:36 PM, Bill Hines wrote:

A group of us from PA are thinking of going.

Pa is close. (by comparison)

But my main problem (this was the case with SPAH to some extent but not as bad recently, and definitely with Buckeye) is that there is no list of seminars, or schedule of events before hand. Even "imminently " beforehand. Tsk.

I always thought this was strange. Long ago I asked to play one year and was told that the shows were already filled. And this was 5 months before the convention.

So how do they expect those who need to make a distance travel decision, involving accommodations, etc without knowing how much value there will be for them?

There are several ways to look at value. One would be the activities. Another is available play time. Open mike is a consideration. Sitting in with someone is another. Diversification is another. My thing was always that too much effort was spent on the preservation aspect and not enough on the advancement factor. As far as I know, and, by the way, I could be dead wrong, I haven't seen the organizations actively look for other talent. Other than that which usually comes to the fests anyway.
I think too much reliance is placed on the regulars. Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the regulars and they DO carry (and fill out) the shows, but hearing the same people over and over gets old after a while. I think this only affects people who go year after year after year. An occasional attendee probably wouldn't notice it. I can remember when there was a core 'In crowd' that were more or less welded in position and the only way you were going to move them out was by natural causes.

Some of these lean very, very heavily toward one particular aspect/ audience of harmonica, especially in NJ I believe.

Yes, but there was a reason for that. Spah was leaning diatonic. Before anyone flames me, remember what I have been saying since 2000. The diatonic players are advancing and chromo players are thinning out. Besides, the N.J. club has some of the last remaining chromo groups around. Electra, Society Boys, Grova & Miller, Harpbeats, Sgro Bros., Savas & group, and a few more.
Gone are the days when we would be able to see: Bernie Bray, Hugh McCaskey trio, Harmonicats, Don Les, Dave McKelvey, Eddie Manson, Blackie Schackner, Les Thompson and a raft of other great chromo players. It's all down to a handful now and very few are top level. So, the N.J. club keeps THAT aspect going.

That is, a lot of geriatrics (maybe I should have waited for smo- joe to say that...) playing chromatic, bass, harmonica quartets and trios a la the "good old days". And don't get me wrong, that's great stuff and quite impressive and entertaining, but not enough for me to take time off work, travel, spend $$$ in this "current economic climate".

Right. With the chromo situation these days, you won't have much chance of hearing 'Fiddle Faddle', Der Zergunderweisen, Undecided now, Zorba (at speed), Dance of the Commedians (at speed). Dance of the Hours (correctly)

Then there's the time warp factor. There are/were a lot of great tunes that AREN't 53 to 80 (or more) years old. Lots of movie stuff, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, America, Steeley Dan, Moody Blues, Tangerine Dream. It doesn't ALL have to be big band. Now I like big band and gave the wrong impression the other month. I like big band...BUT...I don't dwell on it all the time. I (myself) will be 67 in a few weeks and even my PARENTS were too young for some of this music.

I LOVE dixieland & ragtime, and it is even OLDER than big band. But I don't play it all the time. And the best is that you hardly ever hear it.

I would like to hear the music broken up. Some country (not just bluegrass), some classical (some light classical), some jazz, (but not enough to feel hit in the face with it), some Latin, even some Zydeco, some R&B, some dance music, some Ballet selections. Some cowboy, Some French, German, Gypsy. Jesus, all we hear are the same old same old.

I'd go primarily for the opportunity to learn, shop gear, listen for the type/style that interests me.

Yeah, there SHOULD be a smattering of everything. I know that's a tall order. I mean, no one is getting paid (on the one hand) to do all this planning, but on the other hand it DOES represent some serious outlay for some of the attendees. It really comes down to money. Back in the old days, all the members from Michigan could get to Romulus, most were retired, most had the time, most had the money, and they were preserving what THEY wanted.

Well things change. The harmonica world is a big close knit sister/ brotherhood and what with communication being what it is, we can keep in touch easier. Soooo, just like the movies, we have grown to expect MORE. Remember the old movies. Some are STILL classics but most are basically lame. I watch them and wonder how I was ever entertained by them. We are spoiled.

I was looking around their site today for exactly this type of thing. I can see a list of guests and see a few names amid the long list of what I believe is the aforementioned style of harmonica that I could infer means they have "some" diatonic/blues content (Dennis Gruenling for one) but not a whole lot. So if that content is Thursday and I can only make fri and/or sat and I miss the boat, wow that would be disappointing.

It's getting to the point that the blues, blues/rock movement is so strong, they could almost have their own fest. If you look at you tube, it is probably close to 90% diatonic (and not country either). It's blues oriented. I (personally) wouldn't want to hear blues all the time. I don't even want jazz all the time. See my writings from some moments ago.

Anyway, just a rant in case someone knows anything. I did send them an email asking for any kind of schedule of events or seminar list, even if it's "tentative", "draft", etc.

Some people don't know till the last minute if they can attend. It depends on their schedule. They have 2 such fellows listed that fit that criteria. Now lets say..'I'..was going to go because these fellows were scheduled..AND..they failed to show. I would be very disappointed traveling 1122-1276 miles. I (generally) won't schedule going ANYWHERE until I am satisfied with my facts. Sometimes it's a last minute decision.

I know it's also an organizational problem, too much work, too few volunteers, etc. But still, someone somewhere must have something to go on! This in my opinion has been a huge failing on the part of those who organize these types of events if indeed they want more folks outside their mainstream to attend.

I'm not sure anyone has thought of this before. I see every year things run more or less they way they did the year before. I have seen a couple things over the years that should bear some scrutiny, but I'm not far enough up the food chain to say.

jose dos equis (the most interesting man in the world)... going back to playing with the new W i i


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