Looking back . . . Some missing highlights from the RIJF
And Now For Something Completely Different . . . Jazz & Film Anyone?

What Just Happened Here? Some Thoughts On RIJF 2007

As I said in an earlier post, I have quite a lot to say following this year's Rochester International Jazz Festival, which was a watershed for me and for this blog. This will be one of several posts exploring my thoughts and feelings.

This year's RIJF was my introduction into being part of "media" and this blog's introduction to so many new readers (over 1200 unique visitor dropped in during the nine days of the festival). It was about hanging out with my friends and fellow new media folks Ken, Seth, Jane, and Jason.  It was about seeing my friends on Jazz Street and in the clubs, including those who I only really meet during the RIJF. It was about meeting new friends. It was about finding new sounds, dancing and clapping, and hearing world class musicians play compelling, innovative music. Mostly, this year's RIJF was a blast!

I haven't disclosed it before in the blog, but this year the publicity staff at RIJF (thanks, Jean!) gave Jazz@Rochester and I a media pass and contact information for a list of artists whom I hoped to interview. This access provided me the cred, I guess, to set up an interview with Geri Allen and get pretty far in sitting down with Fred Hersch, Trio Beyond, and others (by the way, the I hope to have the results of the interview with Ms. Allen up here soon as a podcast). It was a wonderful opportunity, but ultimately it was one that I used somewhat sparingly for a number of reasons. After I sat down with Ms. Allen (with my wife Dianna), I realized how much work it is to do interviews (and gained some respect for those who do it in a more professional capacity).  I didn't want to ask the usual questions, I wanted to get the artist to talk about their music in a new way (at least from what I was hearing) and found out in that first interview how much work it was to be prepared enough to find the way to that result.  In addition, there was a lot of legwork involved just in setting up the interviews.  I plan on doing more of it in the future, but decided this time not to waste the artists' time and keep others from getting the limited time with them. Before this year I had been only an observer, a fan. Now I was a participant. I wasn't entirely ready for that, especially given the need to continue to try to keep to my 9-to-5 job (OK, I was on Jazz Street at 4:30 most days).

That said, the media pass represented something else that I had felt was already happening before this year's RIJF--the arrival of Jazz@Rochester as something more than a hobby.  Although last year had seen some toes dipped in the water, this was also the year that a community of those who are using new media like blogs, moblogging and podcasts came together and formed a community focused on bringing the Rochester International Jazz Festival to Rochester and the world in new ways. I plan on exploring this some more later.

Nearly 1,200 people came to my site during the nine days of the festival and many of them found the RIJF site through Jazz@Rochester, which is a lot for a site like that focused on one narrow subject in a limited market. I'm sure Ken, Seth and Jason experienced a major uptick in their traffic as well. I received a number of emails and comments from people who had never been on the site before. In line at Kilbourn or elsewhere, when I told my line-mates about Jazz@Rochester I often heard "Oh . . . I've been on that site!" or "You're the one who does that...?" or "Oh . . . you're a blogger...." While I felt that I wasn't able to fully realize some of the promise these new technologies have to offer, my missteps and the things I was able to accomplish provided guidance for what worked and what didn't that I'll be using in next year.

Blogging really is about conversation.  Really.  In addition to a conversation between bloggers, this thing works best when there is a conversation between the person publishing a blog and those who read it. So, tell me what you think of what went on in these pages during for the 9 days of the RIJF. What worked for you?  What didn't?  What was helpful?  What was just plain old lame?  What would you like to see more of in the future?  Leave a comment by clicking on the comment link below and tell me what you think.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Comments

Hey! Thanks a bunch for what you're doing for Rochester and the Jazz Fest! I found your blog looking for something completely different, but I'm really glad I did.

Yes, doing interviews is an arduous task, no doubt about it. I have found, in the interviews that I've done, that the secret is coming up with a few slightly-odd questions to ask as the first question. The idea is to pull people out of their media comfort zone so you can just ask questions naturally after that and let them talk. It's much harder with politicians, in those few that I've interviewed, but fortunately with musicians, they're dying to just talk about what they think about music!

Good luck with this blog! Drop me a line if you want, I'd love to talk about how we can bring our two websites into orbit.

Talk about lame; I think my "spike" of unique visitors (if I'm to believe Google analytics) was 8 to you 1,200. Also lame, how little I managed to see compared to you and others. I'll have to have a much better strategy next year if I'm going to see/hear more and at least double my "spike" in readership! Greg, what I liked about your blog during the fest was hearing about the many things that you saw which were diffrent than what I saw. That was cool. You did the same great job with covering the Jazz Fest that you do covering jazz in Rochester every day! Keep up the great work.
Tracy

Hey, I forgot to list using a conference or ball room at the Crowne Plaze instead of the bar for the Jam Session. Maybe it will get some love if people see it here.

See you tomorrow at Bertoncini.

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