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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.


Personally, I think you kicked ass all week long. Kudos!

Greg, I think you did a fine job. Your blog is really amazing, and the effort you put forth throughout the RIJF was huge. You know, it doesn't seem like it would be fun to be carrying a laptop around to each show and maybe leaving each show early to write. I did see a guy sitting and typing furiously on his laptop while he waited in line--don't know if it was related to RIJF or it was his homework or job-related.

For me and my friend, the Jazz Fest gave us the feeling we were on vacation. I don't think I would be able to put forth the level of effort you are talking about next year and still enjoy it. I have been thinking about strategies to see more acts next year, and they all involve the following: some vacation hours from work so that I can get there early and stay late, better pre-planning, only "popping in" to a show for 15 minutes or so, so that I can get to the next one, and going alone so that I am not affecting someone else's enjoyment. The only thing palatable in that list is going early and staying late! If I were at a show that I was loving, I wouldn't want to leave in order to stay on schedule. And I loved being there with my friend and sharing that enjoyment. Anyway, I'm rambling. My point is that although I'd like to do a better job at my Jazz Fest blogging next year, I think I'll just do the best I can and still enjoy it. I love the idea of your "man-on-the-street" moblogging, by the way.

Thanks, Jason and Tracy. It was a f*ing amazing time for me and very successful for Jazz@Rochester, but I think that putting it out there helps keep me honest and makes this blog more personal. I didn't do a lot of what I planned as it began to feel more like work and that defeats the real purpose of going for me--exposure to incredible new sounds and sharing in the festival and fun.

Tracy, there are some tricks to getting to see who you want that Seth, Ken, Jason and I have gained over a number of years of attending this thing. They have written about it some, and we're of course willing to share. I'm also supported in taking in so much of the festival by the fact that I have some flexibility in coming and going at work and, more importantly, I have a REALLY understanding wife and do not have children.

BTW, the guy you saw with the laptop was probably Jeff Spevak of the D&C.

Yes, Greg, I would love to learn the tricks! That would help.

I was feeling a little guilty one night when I was at the Fest and I knew my daughter was home--she's 16, she didn't care, but . . . MomGuilt. Anyway, I did get to share an attempt to see Eldar with my son and and a successful venture to see Bill Frisell and Rusted Root with both of them, so that was cool.

And, once again, you (and your blog) rocked!

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