Saturday, October 4, 2008

Plastic Sax Is a Winner

Even Kim Sivils and Steve Rigazzi don't completely get it.

They've been savvy enough to invite me to their gigs and ask me about the booking policies of area clubs. But when I spoke to Kim at Jardine's last Friday, I discovered that she was confused about the intent behind Plastic Sax. (I write about Kim and Steve's music today at There Stands the Glass.)

Allow me to use the occasion of Plastic Sax winning the Pitch's Best Music Blog Award clear up misconceptions and answer commonly asked questions.

*I don't make a dime from this site. I'm beginning to suspect, however, that demanding advertising support and applying for grants might be the only way to be taken seriously by many key players in Kansas City's arts community.

*I do not believe that jazz is an inherently superior genre. Furthermore, I'm not slumming when I attend hip hop, punk rock, country and heavy metal concerts. I love all forms of music.

*I desperately want Kansas City's jazz scene to thrive. I don't hesitate, however, to report negative news. This approach regularly confuses musicians, clubowners and promoters accustomed to mindless cheerleading.

*My friend and colleague Joe Klopus at the Star isn't afraid to tell the truth. I initiated Plastic Sax only because the weekly appearance of his Jazz Town column left me wanting more. And while JAM has the best of intentions, its static online presence and rosy tone doesn't always appeal to me.

*I was so flabbergasted by the absence of a comprehensive list of area jazz links that I dedicated a weekend in July 2007 to creating the guide posted in the right column.

*I haven't picked up a saxophone since I was sixteen. The "Plastic Sax" title is intended as a peevishly disrespectful reference to the American Jazz Museum's famous relic.

*Since February, every image posted at Plastic Sax is an original photo.

*I'm accessible; email me at happyinbag(at)

*I recognize that Plastic Sax is far from perfect. Even so, I'm confident that it's the single most useful and comprehensive source for information and opinion about today's Kansas City jazz scene.

(Original images of Kim Sivils (top) and Steve Rigazzi (bottom) by Plastic Sax.)


WLIB said...

Hear, hear! It's about time you get some recognition for busting your ass!

And btw the only time Mr Bag is slumming is when he goes to blogger meet ups. ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't get what would have led to your need to disclaim that info above, Bill. What did they not "get" about a site trying to promote their work in a grassroots way? Are jazzers really that out of touch with the digital medium of blogging?

Happy In Bag said...

Short answer, Patch- Yes. Much of the off-line feedback I receive is very negative. Most people in the jazz community don't understand why a mere fan with no ulterior motives would go to the trouble of constructing a grassroots promotional site.

Twice last week alone, Lee, I bumped into jazz musicians who asked me where I was headed. When informed that I would be attending popular music events, one scolded me and the other offered me sincere sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Luddites. It reinforces that stupid notion that artists shouldn't have to shill themselves. Sorry gang...that's not how this game works. Show me a jazz artist that can't sell themselves using every available tool at their disposable (including the web and engaging with the "civilian" critics) and I'll show you the Maytag repairman's new best friend.

WLIB said...

I've been the recipient of identical offers of "sympathy" and it always makes me want to punch someone. But hey, that's their mental prison cell, right? But scolding you for taking in something other than jazz? Sheesh. That attitude, more than anything, threatens kill off the jazz scene and take the music with it.

Patchcord - the average jazzer isn't even comfortable with the personal computer, much less blogging.

Unknown said...

Patch and Lee,

Bless your little warped hearts. We jazzers are so happy we have intelligent non luddites ,as yourselves, generalizing all jazz musicians..I know all of my "jazz" friends, including myself, have also played and currently play in a variety of musical groups and genres. We live more than just jazz.
Have you ever stopped to think that whomever you talked to might have been JOKING? Ah, but that's not what blogs are made of. Why can't you say something positive about the article? Don't cheapen Bill's blog. He's a terrific guy and really deserves credit for his grassroots approach.

btw I use the computer to promote myself and my business all the time.

Hey, the jazz community (and the Duo mentioned above)only ask for curiosity. They are all familiar with blogs but not plastic sax.

Why don't you meet me at the record bar wednesday? Gonna go catch Ghosty. My friend and jazzer Jake Blanton is playing in the group.

Ned Ludd

Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing. This, in a word, is why jazz is where it is today...

Let's move onward and upward jazz people!

And kudos to you for keeping this wonderful blog alive.

WLIB said...

Hey Ned (or Kristin or whoever you are), thanks for weighing in, you saucy minx. Blessings right back atcha!

I would love to meet up with you for the show and I'd gladly buy you a round. Ghosty is awesome. Sadly, I won't be in KC Wednesday, but please say hello to Jake for me.

As for "cheapening" Bill's blog, I'm pretty sure this kind of lively discussion is exactly what he was hoping for when he launched it. You might also have noticed that my first comment in this thread said "something nice" about the Pitch award. But the one of the spurs for this particular post was the fact that Bill's gotten flack from what you might call jazz partisans suspicious of his motives.

Which brings me back to Jake. While he's a phenomenal jazz guitarist, you've probably noticed that he isn't playing as many jazz gigs as he used to. His myspace page lists his genre as "Indie / Acoustic / Experimental" and I think that's perfectly fine. He's a talented artist pursuing work (whether it's with Ghosty, Willoughby, Sia, Slow Broz, or Bow Dog, Logan Richarson or whoever) that appeals to him. Jazz is in Jake's bones at this point and I think it only adds to the quality of whatever he touches. But you know there are jazz fans who feel musicians are letting down "the music" when they stray from the fold. Back when the above-mentioned Steve Riggazzi and Natalie Twigg were launching the Aurora Consort they told me that they'd had complaints from people who said the music "wasn't jazz."

Thankfully, Ned/Kristin/whoever, this isn't you or your fellow musicians. It's probably not even most jazz fans. But you've no doubt heard similar grumblings between sets at Jardine's or the Blue Room. My concern is that this grievance mentality and carping threatens to drive young musicians even further away from jazz. I hope that's a concern you share.

Anon - That's easier said than done. Where, in a few more words, would you bid us go?

Happy In Bag said...

Lee's right- I'm very pleased by all who have "cheapened" Plastic Sax with comments.

Lee and Patchchord are pals in good standing, Kristin, even if I think they're both wrong much of the time.

I will be at the Record Bar tonight, Kristin, but not for Ghosty. They're playing a free show down at Power & Light. ("Dumbo Wins Again" is one of my favorite songs of 2008, btw.)

Just to clarify- it's not Kim and Steve or anyone down with Ghosty who are missing the boat. The best cabaret/crooner in town has no web presence. Neither does one of KC's most interesting new jazz ensembles. I could go on...

Interesting comments, Lee.