Sunday, September 5, 2010
Daniel Andersen: The Plastic Sax Interview with the Director of The Prairie Village Jazz Festival
The Prairie Village Jazz Festival is just as promising as it is unlikely. Curious about how the ambitious September 11 event came about, I conducted the following email interview with festival director Daniel Andersen.
Plastic Sax: As a jazz enthusiast and jazz blogger, I'm thrilled by the Prairie Village Jazz Festival. The lineup is amazing. But I have to ask- why Prairie Village? And why jazz rather than bluegrass, blues or classical music?
Daniel Anderson: As a member of the Prairie Village Arts Council it was a natural fit to bring live performance to Prairie Village. Jazz seemed to be a natural fit given the area's history of this uniquely American art form.
PS: Eldar aside, are you aware of any special connections between Prairie Village and the jazz idiom?
DA: Prairie Village itself other than Eldar doesn't have a strict jazz connection, but as part of the KC area, we have selected artists with special ties to this region.
PS: How Is the festival being financed?
DA: The festival is presented by The Prairie Village Arts Council, The City of Prairie Village and the Prairie Village Municipal Foundation. Financing comes from our generous sponsors, grants and event partnerships.
PS: Do you have any experience in organizing festivals?
DA: This is my first full festival, but have planned many large events.
PS: The lineup is absolutely stellar. Were Karrin Allyson, The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Eldar, David Basse, Sons of Brasil and Killer Strayhorn your first picks? Who else was on your list? What went into the selection process?
A: The selection process was a group effort with numerous other acts considered. The choices were made easier when we decided to concentrate on artists with a tie to this area. We look forward to next year and the opportunity to bring more great jazz performers to the festival.
PS: What's the goal of the festival? Is there anything you hope to accomplish in addition to presenting great music?
DA: The goal is to celebrate and promote jazz music with the residents of Prairie Village and surrounding areas. In the future we hope to raise enough money with the festival to develop an amphitheater in Harmon Park that showcases year round performance events.
PS: How many people do you expect to attract?
DA: We are being optimistic that this free event will attract 5,000 - 10,000 people.
PS: Why did you decide to make it a free event?
DA: As a free event we feel that we can stimulate a greater awareness and promote the appreciation of jazz to a broader audience.
PS: Do you hope to make it an annual event?
DA: Yes, we have already started planning next year's festival.
PS: What will the stage setup be like? Will the audience be looking down toward the Prairie Village Pool or up toward the pavilion at the west side of the park?
DA: The stage will be set up on top of the skate park facing uphill towards the pavilion at the west side of the park. We feel this arrangement creates a natural amphitheater.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)