Local Jazz&Blues fest random thoughts

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
[FONT=Calibri, sans-serif]I attended 4 days of a local Jazz & Blues fest a little while back and noted a few things music, audio, family and friends related. This is a pretty small event in a sleepy bedroom community 25miles from the big bad city (Toronto) and the ‘downtown' venue is a very pleasant river-side walk from my home hard to beat as something to do on a beautiful summer weekend.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri, sans-serif]This is a once-a-year thing with weather as good as it gets here but I still found it tough to get people out to enjoy some adult beverages in the sun and listen to a little music. My wife loved the idea but the kids, not so much and I was only able to get a couple friends to join us for a few hours over the 4 days. I understand the kids (who really had a good time once they got there) and some had important things taking up their time but it really seems to me that live music is not the draw I'd like to think it is for my friends. Maybe my musical tastes are more diverse, maybe I treasure these opportunities more, maybe I didn't care much about the baseball game on TV, maybe I'm just old, I don't know, but I love this stuff.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri, sans-serif]Mass-market Canadian beer is OK but the wave of micro-brews we have here now is a VERY good thing only 2 micro-breweries were selling on site and I loved 7 of the 8 brews I tried from them (at least there was 1 I didn't buy multiple times). This little town is growing some soul and the 3 block long main-street beside the fest now has a few pubs, some killer Mexican food and a great little hand-made burger/stone baked pizza joint with over 100 craft beers on tap inside an old restored bank. There are a few things I miss about the big city but many more I like about this little burg.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri, sans-serif]I was amazed at the talent mostly local I enjoyed over these 4 days. One thing about these types of music there is no real opportunity to hide behind studio hockus-pocus, effects and 'pro-tools', this was mostly straight-up interaction with band-mates and a largely appreciative crowd. The energy and alchemy often present made for the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon and evening (while sipping a great brew).[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri, sans-serif]The PA at this event was a LOT better than what I remember hearing at any other outdoor show. Not sure what the brands used were but there was 2 flying line arrays and 6 huge horn-loaded bass bins spread across the 2 stages. Volume was very restrained but when the music called for it an aggressive drum line, 12 horn brass section, sax solo or front-and-center slide playing on a Fender Strat - the dynamics were there, big time, loud, clean and clear. Just a nice, silky smooth balance from top to bottom that had you thinking you where listening to minimal amplification (until the power cut-out a time or 2!).[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri, sans-serif]And this again. :) I'm listening to the fast snap and hit of a snare, the quick blast you feel in your chest from the bass drum, the brassy bite of a sax, trumpet or hell, that whole brass section, the tone of the various guitars, wood body of the upright bass, silky sex in the female vocal...and I'm reminded that THAT is why I use those big old Altecs and ancient SETs they just get this stuff right.[/FONT]


 

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inthewoods

AARP Member
Bet it was awesome. Our little 2 stoplight town has Friday nite live. 10 years ago it was quite nice. It's become a carnival IMO. We rarely go anymore. I should probably try and just put some blinders on and go for the music.
 

tomlinmgt

Moderator
That sounds and looks awesome, Bill. How was the turnout in general?

And I agree totally that a live performance in a fairly intimate outdoor setting (where house acoustics don't make any contribution) with a sound man that knows what he's doing on a system that can get the job done is, well...talk about getttin' the toes tappin' and feel good juices flowin'. That's where it's at and taking key sonic elements from that scenario and translating them into a 2-channel rig has given me the most satisfying home listening experiences, as well. When you're listening to it at the show and it sounds so clear and powerful yet effortless at the same time you soon forget about or don't even think about the PA gear that's making that happen. It just, um, gets out of the way. Now where have I heard that before?
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
The turnout varied light in the afternoon, slowly building to very crowded into the night. This was nice really as the acts earlier in the day tended to be more relaxed, sit back and listen experiences but into the evening, energy increased and being on your feet and moving seemed the better way to enjoy anyway.

They had a few thunder showers move through at times with one particularly ugly one clearing the place out one evening but overall, I think it continues to be a pretty successful undertaking for the organizers it seems bigger and better every year. This is a pretty old event that moved from the town south of here (after apparent trouble with the snooty neighbors/Town-Councilors) to what appears to be a very receptive community so if the finances work, it should continue I sure hope it does.

Yeah, that's what surprised me about the PA the music just sounded good most of the time without big volume and that typical ice-pick in the fore-head sensation I so often get at live outdoor shows even when sitting close to those arrays. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm into this stuff (I mean look at those bass horns! :) ) I wouldn't have noticed the PA, it did stay out of the way. Even my wife was surprised by this she was commenting on how much she liked a singer's voice when the power cut-out and near silence it was a ‘wow' moment, particularly in how much the PA was doing, without wrecking anything (if you know what I mean).
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
Very cool. We have an annual event down here called Jazz'SALive in (San Antonio) that's free to the public. Bring your chairs and ice chest and enjoy a good show. Not many people turn out so chances of getting the best seat are very good. It's like you're describing, nice and intimate and most of the time the PA system is actually not bad. My biggest gripe is when the sound monkey tunes for a chesty and bloated midrange that just makes the voices garbled and overbearing.
 
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