Sunday, June 21, 2009
Get a Gimmick
Get a gimmick.
That's the lesson other jazz musicians might learn from Karrin Allyson.
In her case, it has nothing to do with music. As I noted in my review of the first of her four shows at Jardine's last week, Allyson continues to travel down the same musical path.
Much of the coverage and chatter surrounding Allyson's return to Kansas City focused on her reputation as a temperamental artist. I've seen Allyson express displeasure from the stage in the past. But I'm sympathetic- inattentive audience behavior is a recurring topic at Plastic Sax. I was pleased, consequently, when the card pictured here was distributed to Allyson's audience.
Whether her so-called "attitude" is real or not, many people who wouldn't otherwise care about Allyson enjoy discussing her demeanor. The shtick enhances her performances even as it raises her visibility.
Allyson isn't the only Kansas City-related jazz musician with a gimmick. Dave Stephens continues to expand his audience with a manic visual display. The Scamps are marketed as the city's elder statesmen. The McFadden Brothers dance. And don't forget about David Basse's hat.
Many musicians might suggest that their work speaks for itself and that a gimmick would only cheapen their art. Perhaps. But in an environment in which it's exceedingly difficult for a jazz musician to get noticed, I'd encourage them to embrace every possible angle.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)