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Djangofest NW vs/ Django in June

pmgpmg ATHERTON, CANew Dupont
edited September 2018 in North America Posts: 80
Just got back from an incredible few days at DFNW. As a serial attendee of both DFNW and DIJ, I thought it would be helpful to start a discussion to compare and contrast both events for those who have not previously attended in hopes of attracting more future interest and support for these terrific programs.

Previous attendees are encouraged to share their experiences in this post.

Here are my observations:

Djangofest NW

- Takes place in Langley, WA on Whidbey Island in September
- Greater number of jams for average players in front of appreciative audiences at local venues including coffee shops, bars, restaurants, artist galleries, and at the local camp ground
- Upwards of 10+ afternoon and evening concerts + workshops on GJ basics with generally well-known professional GJ artists
- Many non-musician attendees
- Wide variety of accommodations ranging from camping to higher end hotels
- Multiple near-by food options including a number of decent restaurants

Django in June

- On the Smith College campus in Northampton, MA in June
- Immersive GJ learning experience that attracts a greater number of GJ musicians ranging from near beginner to very advanced players on a wide variety of common GJ instruments including not just guitar but also bass, violin, accordion, clarinet, etc.
- Audiences are generally made-up of other musicians
- Multiple learning tracks based on instrument and skill level (A, B, C)
- Food and boarding offered at Smith College dorms - although there are many off-site accommodation and food options
- Multi-day commitment minimum

Both venues are outside of metropolitan areas and require added travel time - but each have their own charm and are well worth the effort to get there.

DFNW is best for those who like to watch and listen with less emphasis on learning advanced techniques. Also more ego building for players who wish to get in front of friendly appreciative audiences at local venues. More relaxed, take it as you go vibe. Greater appeal for non-musician spouses and friends.

DIJ is best for those who want to take a deep dive into becoming more proficient GJ players. Instructors are uniformly top rated players who are generous of their time and who, in many cases, can provide 1:1 tips and helpful critiques of your playing. Each day is full of planned activities including workshops, jams, and some evening concerts.

If you are a player, be prepared to become somewhat sleep deprived due to watching and playing in inspiring late night jams which last until the wee hours nightly.
I'm always interested in jamming with experienced jazz and gypsy jazz players in the San Francisco - San Jose area. Drop me a line. Bass players welcome!


  • TDogTDog Victoria, BCNew Shelley Park Montmartre; Cigano GJ 5
    Posts: 19
    [quote= If you are a player, be prepared to become somewhat sleep deprived due to watching and playing in inspiring late night jams which last until the wee hours nightly.[/quote]

    The sleep deprivation is no joke - someone was playing a saxophone next to my tent at 3:00am on Thursday :s

  • pmgpmg ATHERTON, CANew Dupont
    edited September 2018 Posts: 80
    DFNW gets the nod for the best and strongest coffee at the local cafes which helps a little :-). Next morning jams usually start with tunes like Danse Norvegian or Je Suis Seul until the caffeine fully kicks in,
    I'm always interested in jamming with experienced jazz and gypsy jazz players in the San Francisco - San Jose area. Drop me a line. Bass players welcome!
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 568
    We stayed in a nice hotel...but...they were building a ship next to it so construction started 6am...ouch.
  • altonalton Keene, NH✭✭ 2000 Dell'Arte Long Scale Anouman, Gadjo Modele Francais, Gitane DG-330 John Jorgensen Tuxedo
    edited September 2018 Posts: 109
    I am so fortunate as to have Django in June about an hour from where I live. I have been three times now, and fully plan on attending again.

    Even though I am close, I still spring for a dorm room for the week. Because the sleep deprivation is no joke there, either.
  • adrianadrian AmsterdamVirtuoso
    Posts: 459
    Though both events are (obviously) gypsy jazz focused, it’s a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison.

    Django In June is an educational camp; you come there to learn and study (as a musician). DFNW is a festival; you come there to have fun with music (as a listener or player).

    To be sure, DIJ has concerts and DFNW has workshops — so there’s overlap. But the primary goals of the events are different.

    By the way, Samois is even more in the “festival” direction; there’s very little focused education there. The education-to-festival continuum would go like this: DIJ -> DFNW -> Samois.

    (Context: I’ve been to DIJ 12 times and DFNW twice. Samois four times.)
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,020
    I’ve been to all three (DFNW, Samois , DIJ) so many times. My favorite is definitely DiJ because of how Andrew Lawrence cares so much about it and is always trying to improve the experience. When you have an exceptional leader, you have an exceptional event. The guy is always asking participants, teachers, players for advice on how to improve his festival, and he’s been this way since day 1. DiJ is close (i’ll explain later) to be being the ultimate experience for anyone who’s really into GJ

    Nonetheless, the other festivals are not without their charms. DFNW is good for casual fun. You can bring your family and check out other things, and enjoy the concerts, the restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

    Samois is pretty much the holy land for GJ players, but it’s changing significantly as a festival. Just the word Samois itself is misleading; most hardcore players don’t even go to the festival, they go to the campsite in Samoreau during the Samois festival. There are less events in the village of Samois , and the main festival is now in Fontainebleau (a few miles away), so everything is truly scattered. There are also less Gypsies showing up than years past. Samoreau is also getting extremely crowded. It’s still worth visiting once in your lifetime, but it’s not what it used to be. I go there to see my friends.

    DiJ is by far my favorite, and it’s CLOSE to being the ultimate experience for the simple reason that there is something quite magical about going to a Gypsy campsite in Europe and seeing how large extended families get together and play music in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, etc. It’s something you have to experience first hand to understand. That’s something that no festival can ever recreate.
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    edited September 2018 Posts: 1,240
    I was worried about DFNW when Nick's health began to fail and Stacie (Whidbey's Executive Director of Arts) began the retirement process, but the festival was very good this year and they have taken steps to return it to what it was at its peak - a concert-focused, newbie-friendly, family-friendly celebration of the music with world class talent and some instruction opportunities in the afternoon before the concerts.

    So, a new Whidbey Director of Arts is in place, and they have hired Simon Planting as Festival Creative Director (They announced it from the stage before the finale' and the audience roared its approval) And they were also bending Mathieu Chatelain's ear about ways to improve the festival. So they're talking to the right people and asking the right questions and committing resources as well, which is all wonderful!

    In fact, the festival "felt" like the old festival this year. The jam scene was very good, though not as big and frenetic as in the early years, but my god... that's probably a good thing for anyone who lacks the endurance of a Navy-Seal. Lol. My days of jamming till the sun comes up for days-on-end are long gone.

    Long live DFNW. It was a great time.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Elan 14 - Altamira M10
    Posts: 104
    dennis wrote: »
    there is something quite magical about . . . seeing how large extended families get together and play music

    Having only attended DiJ once but long time wanting to go (and also attended DFNW & Samois twice each in the early-mid 2000s), I really like the vibe in Northampton. It seemed to me that there were a lot of familial typefriendships that see their reunion every year at DiJ. We may not be related by blood but we are related by music.

    Dennis, I think you are right when you say it is CLOSE to Samois. It is the American version of a gypsy family reunion!
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
    Posts: 235
    I keep wondering why there’s no Django fest type of event in New Orleans. We are the cradle of Jazz and the home of Louis Armstrong, a Django favorite. I’m trying to campaign for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest to bring in a few world class players.
    MarkAWim GlennBuco
  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    edited September 2018 Posts: 1,008
    And also the strong french connection in NOLA. Make it happen!
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