Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fest Fault Lines

The Kansas City Star chastised the American Jazz Museum for bouncing checks and a fashioning a financial shortfall related to the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.  The editorial insists that “the size of the city’s bailout is an outrage.”

One locally based musician responded to the piece by suggesting in a social media post that musicians should organize their own festival.  I’m all for the initiative.  That said, I was one of about 25 people who attended the man’s set at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival in May.  While bounced checks are impossible to defend, I commend festival organizers for including dozens of locally based artists on an impressive lineup that featured stars like John Scofield and Chick Corea.

Unfortunately, sets by Kansas City artists confirmed my primary concern about the local jazz scene: a lot of outstanding music goes largely unheard.  While The Pitch’s month-late recap  takes a dig at my accounts of the festival for The Kansas City Star, the paucity of listeners at the three-day event was so glaring that it couldn’t be ignored.  KCUR, the only other outlet to offer an analysis of the festival, also noted the “non-existent crowds” for many Kansas City based artists.

As musicians consider organizing a festival of their own, I hope they also work toward expanding their core base of support.  In the meantime, there’s nothing preventing fans from creating their own self-curated jazz festivals by bar-hopping between the Green Lady Lounge, Black Dolphin, the Blue Room and other Kansas City venues.

(Original image of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra performing at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival by Plastic Sax.)

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