Djangofest SF 2005!

d-nationd-nation San FranciscoNew
edited June 2005 in North America Posts: 16
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Viva Bireli!


  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    So I'm back from Djangofest SF and have some rants.

    1. This is NOT like Djangofest NW. Jam circles were few and far between. In fact jamming was not a welcome thing for the most part and at one point we were even told to STOP PLAYING! There was supposed to be jamming at the Little Fox until 1:30 am every night but that only happened one night. After the shows we were asked to leave the building. We were forced to play on the side walks or dive to houses. This was one of the biggest disappointments of the trip.

    2. Venue. It was ok. Just ok. the seating was cramped and it was hard to find a good spot unless you were one of the first in. Most of the good seats had a reserved sign on them so even if you did get in first you could not sit right up front. One good thing was a sound guy and the PA were great.

    3. Venders. There were CDs there but not many luthiers. Saga and Del Arte. That was it.

    4. No Marketing. The people in Red Wood City had no clue what was going on. Every show started with the owner of the Fox Theater talking about how he "wants to grow Djangofest into something big" Well then market it! He needs to start now for next year if it is ever going to fly there.

    5. Red Wood City? When the locals call it Dead Wood City that should have been my first clue. The place is a ghost town after 8 pm. Forget trying to get any food after the evening show. I for one vote to have the next Djangofest in Santa Cruz. Now that would be a Djangofest.

    I traveled from Seattle to go to Djangofest SF and will not again if there are not some big changes. It is supper cool that the best Djangofest is not in CA. It's right in my own back yard in Langley. To any of you out there that own a venue and thinking about hosting a Djngofest, do your research not only on the bands but also on the culture that fallow this music. Go to Langley for Djangofest and check out how it is supposed to be done. Even the town shop owners know to change their background music to Django and stock up on folding chairs for jams.

    By the way it was great to meet some of you in person and jam with you... the little that we did! And thanks to Nick for opening your home!

  • djangologydjangology Portland, OregonModerator
    Posts: 1,018
    I for one would have been really pissed if I had driven all the way down there and not found a jam. The JAMS are the most important part of the whole festival... even more important, in my opinion, than the shows themselves. Its about bringing your guitar and meeting new people and learning new things about the music. If there isn't a place to jam, then we miss out on the "heart" of the whole experience.

    Its totally cool if there are no jams but at least someone should say there are no jams so that people dont travel with the wrong expectations.
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    There are some real advantages to doing something like this in the Northwest away from the big population centers in California. IMHO up here we're a bunch of small-town-hippies who have have seen our cities grow up around our ears - but we haven't yet figured out how to act like stressed-out time-constrained metropolitans. I hope the Northwest "small-town" feel will perservere, though I've spoken with some folks who have attended Djangofest Northwest from the beginning and they are starting to see things getting crowded and scheduled and competitive. The fact that there are still righteous folks like Nick who hold house jams in a city the size of SF gives me hope for the future of Seattle and Portland as they continue to grow.

    Which brings us to Redwood City - a bedroom community situated between SF & Silicon valley. People who live in Redwood City go to bed early because their daily family routine includes at least one person in the house getting up at 5:30am to commute 90+ minutes one-way. The last thing they want, is to get home late because a bunch of Gore-tex wearing rednecks (like us) wanted to sit in their building and jam. I have no idea why anyone would consider Redwood City a prime location for a Djazz Festival. Wow. Maybe performance halls were too expensive in SF proper. Santa Cruz would be a cool option though.

    The unfortunate thing for you, Mr Hegg, is that within 10 years, Seattle will be the new San Francisco, and you'll have to drive to Portland to go to a good Djazz festival. And within 20 years, we'll both have to haul our asses over to Spokane... Either that, or they'll be holding Djangofest in Fife and young hardcore jammers who travel to the fest from Spokane will be saying: "What's up with Fife?"

    Whitney and I are saving up for Samois next year. I have a lot to learn before I can go there so I haven't decided whether to take a guitar or not. I hear it's a risky proposition anyway. Maybe I'll take my little Martin Backpacker - it's almost as loud as a full sized guitar (but lacking bass) and it sounds surprisingly Gypsy with the right strings and pick.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 465
    In response to Josh's post: First let me say, that it was fun to Djam with Josh and his dad ( who plays an excellent muted trumpet) and all of the other djammers . Second, Ditto to all of Josh's rants. Third, Santa Cruz would be an excellent venue for Djangofest SF, and not just because I live here (it would be very cool for me, of course). Santa Cruz has great beaches and parks that would be very conducive to djamming. We have a European-style downtown that encourages busking ( acoustic music only). In fact, after Birelli came through, there was a djam in downtown Santa Cruz that was still going strong at 4:00 a.m. when I left. The Kuumbwa Jazz Center would be an ideal venue for the shows (its almost as good as WICA). Lodging is plentiful CLOSE BY, and there are many late night eateries. Nick Lehr and ****...are you reading this? (I'll be calling to lobby those guys)

    See you guys in Langley for DFNW.


    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • AmpsmasherAmpsmasher Oakland, California✭✭✭ Christelle Caillot
    Posts: 52
    Santa Cruz would be a good place for django fest, I remember that jam Marc. Anyways, People where walking by, and just about everyone respected the music, and we didnt get cops called on us.
    Django Fest SF in santa cruz, sounds like a good Idea to me, especially since you dont have the age restrictions, it bums me out that I cant go to thos eevents.
  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    First to Bob: If there ever was a Djagofest Seattle the jamming late would not be an issue due to the lack of venue owner respect. We would make sure any one know what they were getting them selves into before the venue was inundated by us freaks! The reason our late night jams were thwarted was directly attributed to the venue owner. He did not let us stay in late to play as all of the printed schedules posted. He also did not market the festival in the town at all. Even the next door cafe didn't know what was going on. They could have made more money that weekend staying open late had they been aware of the need. They could have even hosted a jam! Talk about making extra money on coffee! And yes Djangofest Fife would suck. :)

    To the others that posted and were there! Thanks for the backup guys. I was feeling like I might be the only one that had a problem. In which case I should just keep my mouth shut. But I want to go to Djafgofest be it NW, NE, etc and I want all of them to be the best! We spend way too much time obsessing over this music to go to something called DJANGOfest to be shut down for "festing" in Django! I too fear that Djangofest NW will get too big for Langley but I guess there is nothing we can do about that until it happens. The one great thing about Djagofest SF is that it made me 100% more stoked for Djangofest NW!

    Jam on!
  • V-dubV-dub San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 325
    Hi Josh and Marc. I was there too. You guys are both terrific players. Definitely among the best of the djammers! You all inspired me to run home and expand my repertoire.

    I agree with the comments for the most part, particularly about the false advertising regarding jamming at the little fox.

    But I felt like after the tensions built, there was also some unecessary hostility on the part of the jammers. At one point, Nick Lehr asked that a jam session be moved to the benches so that it wouldn't block the sidewalk or hold up the line to get into the club. It nearly became a shouting match, with folks yelling back at him "SO MUCH FOR DJANGOFEST!!"

    Now, Nick Lehr puts a hell of a lot of work into putting these Djangofests together and to see people turn on him over something so trivial really rubbed me the wrong way. I could tell he was disturbed by it too, all of a sudden becoming the bad guy in the very event he put together. We are a community, and we should all work together and pitch in to make things run smoothly.

    I'm all for the jamming, but I think that they need to be a bit more organized. 20 guitarists each waiting to take a 4 chorus solo on minor blues is not a lot of fun (I know, I'm guilty too... everyone wanted to jam with Wrembel and Nolan). I think they could have broken into smaller groups. The best jams I had were with 4 or less people. I feel like people pay more attention to making good music rather than just waiting for their turn and soloists don't get lost in an ocean of "boom-chick".

    Highlights for me:

    -Meeting Tom ****, the 17 year old gypsy jazz whiz from LA. He was too young to get into the venue, but I found myself peeking backstage to jam with him during the performances. What a smokin player. I wish I was that good when I was 17. Hell, I didn't even listen to Django Reinhardt when I was 17, and here he his nailing Angelo Debarre licks.

    -Playing Marc's Dunn. It was the first time I had played one and I was not let down.

    -Having Chiquito Lambert (Angelo Debarre's rhythm player, also an amazing lead player) take a few solos on my guitar and had it back to me saying "Good... guitar".

    -Meeting Gonzalo Bergera. He is so amazing. He really gives me hope in that you don't have to be a gypsy to play like one. Thanks to him I'll be spending the next year obsessively transcribing Jimmy Rosenberg solos note for note.

  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 465

    First let me say that I enjoyed your playing a lot. Lets play Cherokee next time we meet. Its a great song to improvise over.

    I couldn't agree more regarding your comments about Nick Lehr. Nick is truly a "general in the army of Django". Any faults with the venue pale in comparison to the amazing confluence of us trainspotting Django freaks that Nick's efforts have brought about. I was not among the Djammers that argued with Nick and would have been on Nick's side unconditionally. We all owe him (and ****) an unrepayable debt of gratitude for the whole Djangofest scene.

    Here's some comments regarding the Djams. I think one or two solo choruses is enough. If a player can't say something with their instrument in that amount of time, they need to go home and woodshed till they can. If they can't play a solid La Pompe, they should lay out on the rythym. If they want to embelish the changes with a million passing chords and subs, they should find a Djam where they are the only rythym player. That way they won't be creating unwanted dissonance. If they don't know the head, they shouldn't try to double with someone who does. Those "off by a half step" notes are not harmonies , they are mistakes and can make a cool tune to outsiders (the public) sound bad. There is magic sometimes in the djams. It's is also a way to bring more people to this music. A Djam is not a place to woodshed, its a place to practice what you have already woodsheded and engage in musical conversation with new players. Just my two cents...

    Looking forward to DFNW.


    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • djangologydjangology Portland, OregonModerator
    Posts: 1,018
    yeah. if you find yourself in a jam with like 10 people, would it be rude to ask 1 person to separate and start another jam circle a little bit down the path?
  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    I have to say just one thing about the Nick incident. Had we been asked to move we would have. The only thing I heard was "Stop playing... just stop." No explanation until 10 min later. That was the rub. And yes Nick is a great guy and does a great job. It was just a stressful moment.
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