7 posts categorized "Blogging" Feed

Improvisations on blogging jazz . . . here in Rochester, New York

Jazz@Rochester bannerBrian Clark's recent post "Jazz and the Art of Improvisational Blogging" over at Copyblogger asks the question "Can jazz musicians really teach you a thing or two about effective blogging?" I've been reading Brian's blog for its well-articulated thoughts on how to be a more effective blogger and writer. It was no different with this post as his use of jazz and its artists to illustrate something about effective blogging hit a chord (pun intended). In addition to the jazz hook, Brian's post made me realize it had been awhile since I took some time to reflect a bit on what I do here in Jazz@Rochester. Brian's use of quotes by jazz musicians also made me look up a few of my own for illuminating other places where jazz and blogging may intersect.

Perhaps it is a peculiarity of mine that despite the fact that I am a professional performer, it is true that I have always preferred playing without an audience. Bill Evans
Improvisation is the ability to talk to oneself. Cecil Taylor

Brian Clark was looking at the places where that thing that jazz musicians and bloggers do may intersect—he found it in the art of improvisation, which he defines as the "practice of acting and creating in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one’s immediate environment." Brian writes:

Jazz musicians riff off the rest of the band, and the vibe of the audience, in real time. Good bloggers riff off of relevant parts of the blogosphere, and the vibe of the audience, also in real time.
Things only break down when someone forgets who the real audience is.

However, as Taylor and Evans illuminate above, improvisation is also a solo gig. As Brian drew the issue in his post, while the creativity and collaboration between jazz musicians, the importance of the performance, can result in jazz musicians playing for themselves or for the other musicians up on the bandstand with them, leaving the audience to fade into the darkness of the club. Bloggers can do the same thing as they riff on stuff that they find interesting out there on the Internet and begin talking mostly to other bloggers (or to Google or their affiliate programs) rather than to their audience. I know that I have done it. In blogging, the trick is to do both—create content that is useful and interesting to the audience that you know is reading (through the comments left and by looking at your traffic), but also to bring your own voice and interests into the mix and show that audience something new. As Brian writes toward the end of his post:

...even an innovative artist who is ahead of his time needs to get some people into the club first. Play them a song they want to hear, get them on your side, and then take them happily to a place they had no idea they wanted to go.

I think that keeping this in mind is particularly important for a blogger who, as here, focuses and promotes a local music scene. I try to keep a focus on the fact that what I am really trying to do here is promoting the live jazz music scene here in Rochester, NY. I need to provide people who are interested in the jazz scene here, or who just drop in because they're looking for something to do on a Saturday night, what they want and need—a mostly comprehensive and accurate source for information on the live jazz scene here. I also want to take the blog and my readers beyond that local focus and those trips will be guided by my own interests and instincts. Of course, I also want this blog to be successful and to grow the audience.

I have a couple of additional "riffs" off other jazz quotes I found out there.

Imitate, assimilate, and innovate. Clark Terry.

Clark Terry's observation says a lot about what bloggers try to do. While you're blogging you sometimes find yourself imitating other bloggers or blogs in your approach or writing. You often assimilate the content of posts that have struck you or information aggregated from numerous sources and then mold your own post and, hopefully, innovate something else out of all that content. That's what I'm trying to do here.

You may have holes in your shoes, but don't let the people out front know it. Shine the tops. Earl Hines

The blogging software and ease in publishing to the web make it possible to take Hines' advice and "shine the tops" when I make a mistake on Jazz@Rochester or just engage in some sloppy writing (which happens more than this editor would like to admit). I could simply make it go away or clean it up, repost, and only those who have already seen the post will even know. However, remembering the audience, it is important with some posts that I lift up my feet and show those holes as it is the only way that my readers will know there was a mistake they may want to pay attention to. That's why you'll see me using strikeouts when a gig is canceled or calling attention to new gigs on the listings post with an "[added]." Sure from time to time I'm just embarrassed at a result and I'll do a bit of a rewrite "on the sly."  However, even if I do that, I know. The fact is even if I tape up the holes, the water (or in our case today, snow) will get my socks wet.

This post has ended up on much longer than is advisable, but there it is. I just let it take me where it wanted to go.  If you got to here before going elsewhere, I commend you. Seriously, I don't hear enough from the people reading Jazz@Rochester. I'd like to hear more about what you'd like to see in these pages so I can try to keep it focused on what matters to you. Leave a comment (all you have to do is click on the link at the bottom of the post to get started).

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

A few random things about me . . . it's meme time again

Last week, Jason over at RocBike and, closer to my heart (come to think of it, my heart could use some biking), The Jazz Session, has tagged me with a meme that's been going around the blogosphere to let you all know 5 random things about me that might not be readily apparent.  I'm going to take the tack of Seth, who Jason also tagged, and focus my "random" things a bit. So here goes:

  1. In addition to listening to jazz (no . . . really), I listen to an eclectic range of music, including alt country, singer-songwriters and folk, blues, 80s alternative, classical, electronica and dance, world music (particularly from Africa), and hip hop (well, old-school hip hop).
  2. I still listen to vinyl from time-to-time as I still have over 700 LPs.
  3. I ran a record store back in the early 1980s while a student at the University of Chicago and worked for about a year at the flagship store for the old Chicago record store chain Rose Records (which alas is no more), where I ran the cutouts section. A good portion of my record collection came out of this experience, including an almost complete set of Coltrane's LPs on Impulse! were bought at the latter after the label was bought by MCA and the old Impulse! pressings were cut out. Now if I could only find a turntable that works . . . .
  4. I wish I played any instrument well enough to improvise. Of course, then I'd have to practice . . . . a lot.
  5. This tag showed up another issue I'm finding with this blog . . . I don't have enough of a network.  Unfortunately, Jason has tagged some of the folks that I would have tagged already and I'm not sure there are enough left in my network who want to be "tagged" (and if they don't wish to carry it on, I understand and won't be hurt . . . really).

So, if you don't mind Tom (disclosure. . . I also write on this blog), George and Peter—tag you're it !  Do with it what you want. I'm giving my friend Annie a pass this time as I see she's already done this meme at least once.  Now I need to look into expanding my network a bit, eh?

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

Song of My Heart . . . I know there's someone watching over me

Yvonne has tagged me again with a meme about the songs that make your heart sing (actually, she tagged me back on June 19th, but somehow it passed by me that I'd been touched; not following the old traffic as closely in the past week).  As you might expect, my choice is something in the jazz vein, although there are quite a few songs in other genres that pull at the ole heart strings.

Ella Sings GershwinYou can never go wrong with Ella Fitzgerald when looking for music to warm your heart and soul, so my choice (as there must be a choice made) is "Someone to Watch Over Me" from the album Ella Sings Gershwin. The lyrics are simple and touching:

There’s a saying old, says that love is blind

Still we’re often told, "seek and ye shall find"
So I’m going to seek a certain lad I’ve had in mind

Looking everywhere, haven’t found him yet
He’s the big affair I cannot forget
Only man I ever think of with regret

I’d like to add his initial to my monogram
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?

There’s a somebody I’m longin’ to see
I hope that he, turns out to be
Someone who’ll watch over me

I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood
I know I could, always be good
To one who’ll watch over me

Although he may not be the man some
Girls think of as handsome
To my heart he carries the key

Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me


Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me

Someone to watch over me

Music and Lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. © 1926 WB Music Corp. (renewed).

While the gender's wrong in application, the sentiment is there.  I know I have someone to watch over me (love you, Dianna). My only complaint is that I have this on vinyl and my turntable is out (iTunes, here I come...). And now it's my turn. Tag, you're it Ken, Seth, and Annie.  If you wish to continue this meme, tag three of your friends and ask them to trackback to your post and to this post when they in turn continue it (oh. . . I'm asking that now)

Continue reading "Song of My Heart . . . I know there's someone watching over me" »

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

You Never Stop Learning . . . RIJF 2007 Provides Some Lessons

Now that I'm done casting my "greater blogger than thou" stones, I think it is only fair to look back with a critical eye on Jazz@Rochester during the 2007 Rochester International Jazz Festival. While this year was a year where a bunch of new doors opened and this blog had unprecedented traffic and impact on festival-goers, I couldn't help but feel that I hadn't really fully realized the opportunities that were presented.  This post is just a mea culpa of sorts, to show that I'm not oblivious to my many shortcomings (I am oblivious to many things . . . just ask my wife), and a sort of blueprint for next year.  I'll just list a few bullet points:

  • While I had a media access pass (as well as the Club Pass that I bought LONG before receiving the media access), I asked for it much too late and with my other responsibilities to work and our business didn't have enough time to do the leg work to set up the interviews even for the artists for whom I requested contact information and be ready to conduct an interview that wouldn't be a waste of their time.
  • I did an interview with pianist Geri Allen on the first night of the festival. It was a wonderful experience. I think that despite my less than stellar interview skills, Ms. Allen provided me some real gems about her and her music (and I hope to be publishing the results soon in these pages). However, the experience also gave me an appreciation for what goes into doing them well and I dropped further efforts.  There were others doing interviews of the artists SO much better (I've been listening to the whole lot of them since, Jason, and you're a pro!). Although I want to try the interview thing some more, I need to find a niche.
  • I admit it . . . my moblogging from the festival became old pretty fast.  I want to think about how I use it in the future as I think it is a great tool (as do Jason and Seth) that has potential for adding a great immediacy to coverage. I'm thinking of doing more "man in the street" (or more "person in line") interviews and "on the spot" reports. What would you like to know?
  • I was unable to really provide images in posts (although, again, so many people were doing a really good job of that), which I love to include when possible.  With the media access pass, I was more restricted than if I'd just been there as a "civilian".  I didn't have the additional photography credential necessary (or perhaps I misunderstood?). My camera really wasn't up to the task, anyway.
  • I didn't write enough.  I didn't have my laptop with me at the festival and at the pace I was hitting shows wouldn't have had much time to do any real writing if I had.  That left me the option of writing when I came home at 1-2 am most nights of the festival (with a few extending beyond 3 am), and then going into work (at which I sit at a computer and write).  This 46 year old body can only take so much.  I had so much to say, but I knew that something had to give.  That's why I'm still writing about the RIJF almost two weeks later.

OK, enough with the hair shirt. This blog and what it has become over the past years I've been writing it, who it has introduced me to in the Rochester jazz and blogging community, and the opportunities it has created made this year's RIJF a watershed for me.  Also, it was a lot of damn fun!

OK, one more to go . . . wherein I'll join Seth in putting some things out there for next year's Rochester International Jazz Festival.

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

Traditional Media Try Their Hands at the New Media Thang . . . Keep Trying!

During the 2007 Rochester International Jazz Festival, the traditional media in Rochester continued their flirtation in using social media tools to reach additional readers. The "alternative" newspaper City Newspaper incorporated the RIJF into the music "blog" they started last year. The daily Democrat & Chronicle also had a "blog" (although the critic's podcast that they ventured last year did not return).

I use the term "blog" here loosely.  Both are called "blogs" and bear a resemblance to a blog in that they have posts in reverse chronological order, written in a less formal and "personal" style, and monthly archives. However, that is where the resemblance ends. The problem is that there is no "social" in their "social media." They never really joined the conversation and community that was forming around this year's RIJF, content to just continue to write articles that could have just as well been published in print.

Our merry little band of bloggers and podcasters (Seth, Ken, Jason, Tracey, Jane and others) wrote about the 2007 RIJF, published photos, linked to and commented in each others blogs. That's how we originally found each other (Ken and Seth have been blogging the RIJF for much longer than I have). This year we really started to form a community online.  We also linked to and sent trackbacks to both the D&C and City Newspaper blogs, in part as an attempt to draw them into the community, but mostly because they were providing different perspectives on the artists we were hearing (and hearing artists we weren't) and we wanted our readers to be exposed to yet other sources for information about the RIJF.  I can't speak for the other, but I held back an impulse to not link to the D&C and City Newspaper blogs.  It seemed to me that they were either not interested or couldn't be bothered with joining our conversation or leading their readers to the many other voices covering the RIJF. The fact is that the writers in the D&C and City Newspaper blogs were using their credentials to gain access to artists that I didn't have (to be fair, however, it is probably that I didn't take advantage of the access I had). Although I had a media pass, I never really felt in the club and often felt like I didn't know the secret handshake. Oh, and then there's that pesky day job in legal publishing, the 20+ years of age, and a body that really shouldn't be staying out until after 1 or 2 am for 9 days straight.  The access (and stamina) of the young D&C "bloggers" Anna Reguero and Jann Nyffeler (except for one post by the more veteran reporter Jack Garner) resulted in some interesting and, at times, compelling, writing about the artists and their experiences of the RIJF that I wanted to share with my readers. That's one reason I blog—to aggregate the sources of information that are available about the subject I'm passionate about, i.e., live jazz music here in Rochester. However, if you look at the D&C or the City Newspaper "blogs" the only links you'll find in the D&C blog are those in the few comments or trackbacks that I (and perhaps one other) left on them (City has some more comments, but is also linkless). Why is that? 

While it may just be inattention, I think it is more about not really "getting" it.  By not joining the conversation and community that is developing, the D&C and City Newspaper are squandering one of the best tools for being "found" and read on the Internet—the blog. The choice may have been conscious or not and may partly be a result of the fear that traditional media have of the inroads being made by us in the blogosphere into what was once their sole province.  As we tell blogging clients, the conversation will be going on with or without you.  It would be so much more interesting for all of our readers if it's the former rather than the latter.

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

A new blog on the block . . . Rochester Music Scene (and Heard)

I thought I'd let you know about a new blog in town.  Tracy Kroft and Don Albrecht have started up a new blog about live music in here in Rochester—Rochester Music Scene (and Heard).  While not focused entirely on jazz, Tracy is a fellow traveler on the live music scene.  You can't be much more of a true believer than this:

Music has the power to bring you joy, ease your pain, help you cry through heartache and see you to the other side. Sometimes the same moment in the same piece of music . . . can bring me to the height of heart-busting joy or bring me to a puddle of tears depending on where I am in the continuum of my emotions.

Tracy's aim is to tell you about about the musicians, music and gigs she is seeing in hopes of getting more people out to see the talented musicians that we grow right here in Rochester. We share that as well. Check her out...   Oh, and thanks for the link to Jazz@Rochester, Tracy.

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

Tag . . . You're It! Five Reasons I Do This

My friend and business associate Yvonne Divita over at Lip-Sticking has tagged me to let you all know "5 Reasons Why I Blog."  It's my first opportunity to participate in this now familiar meme that I've seen around the blogosphere. It's good for "business" and I'd love to share why I do this with my readers, so let's get going:

  1. I blog because I've always been about making connections between people and information that they find of interest or need to better their lives. That's one of my biggest strengths at the day job and a big part of what drove me into the law and publishing.  The development of blogs and other social media has fascinated me as it gave us mere mortals tools and the opportunity to publish to the world,  and share the connections we make with others.
  2. As a result of blogging, I realize that one of the reasons I blog is the connections it helps me make WITH people, real people in the real world, whom I likely never would have met, much less formed a relationship.  Those who have read these pages for a while have first hand knowledge of these connections.  If I didn't blog, I would never had much of an opportunity to meet Jimmie Highsmith Jr. and Wycliffe Gordon, much less see them record tracks for Jimmie's new album, other than going up after a gig to lamely say "great set!" If I didn't blog, I wouldn't have met Seth and Ken, my Rochester International Jazz Festival blogging compadres (and others the links to whom are or will be revealed in these pages).  Also, I wouldn't know a number of those in the jazz music scene here.
  3. I blog because I find this tool and reading the blogs of others a wonderful way to find information that feeds  my wide universe of interests, of which jazz is only one, and to expand my mind in ways I couldn't have imagined. By reading blogs that interest me and see who they are reading, I'm  building a network of reliable sources of information that sustain my work and my everyday life.
  4. I blog because it gives me a platform to highlight my skills and build an understanding of how blogs can meet the needs of clients and potential clients of the new business in which my wife and I are engaged, as well as the business of our partners.
  5. I blog because it allows me to share my love of jazz and live music, and to use the skills I have to promote it here in Rochester, a city that I'm growing more attached to since arriving in 2002 from Chicago.  It allows me to share information I find out on the Internet relating to jazz with people here and throughout the world (I get a number of hits from around and outside the US).

Plus, it's fun!  Now's the time in all good "tag" posts to say "Tag. . . you're it!" to Ken, Seth, Annie, and  Peter.  You're on....

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