[Harp-L] A few comments and observations on SPAH 2009

   Richard makes some good points but we have to remember that this isn't a
corporation we're talking about.  It's my understanding that no one here
draws a salary.  Strictly unpaid work.  We've got volunteers working for
free trying to put something together that will please people 9-90 years old
from all social and economic groups.  Not to mention all the musical genres
that are represented here.  When the host club stood up at the banquet to
take a bow; this was a handful of people seemingly in their mid 70's.  The
idea that these folks bore the brunt of the work here makes the end result
even more remarkable.
   Myself, I like the blues circle.  It's a SPAH tradition that started
because beginners and amateurs had no place to go where they could feel
comfortable.  The official "blues jam" with an electric backup band
was restricted to pros playing the fest and a few others.  I don't
find the current blues "circle" the least bit depressing.  Maybe to somebody
used to playing tunes with a dozen chords in them at a fast gallop, it would
be a sad exercise.  But that's why there's a jazz jam.  The circle is not
just for playing; it's for listening.  To me, it's interesting to hear the
variety of approaches to the same three chords.  Especially when some of the
world's best blues players are in that circle--which they often are. If an
event is consistently drawing 30 or 40 jammers; in spite of going head to
head with a bluegrass and a jazz jam, then I don't know how much improvement
it needs.  Yeah, sometimes I'd like to stretch out a solo but that's
inconsiderate to the rest of the circle.  Didn't Charlie Parker once said
something to the effect of: "If you can't say it in two or three choruses,
then you probably can't say it at all!".  There's a certain beauty to that
sort of discipline.

Mick Zaklan

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