Back in June Taylor and I went to see some of the women’s World Cup games in Ottawa. Added bonus was that there was a jazz festival running across the city at the same time. In addition to 2 great games we got to see…
The Roots – My favorite. Everyone should watch this set. Amazing
Bria Skonberg Quintet – A lot of fun, old style jazz
Eric Boeren 4tet– Hard core musicians. Bassist was amazing. Drummer was intense
Harea Band – Fun and funky band. Taylor’s favorite
Renee Rosnes Quartet – Relaxing show, xylophone was cool
War – Got there late, but we still got to see Low Rider and Why Can’t We Be Friends
Chris Botti – After about 10 minutes we walked out. So boring
Last week I saw the Roots again at the House of Blues in Boston. When I bought the tickets I was so excited to see them again. I was actually disappointed. The set list was very similar, including the covers. Which included a fun version of Sweet Child of Mine. What really impressed me the most at the jazz festival was that the musicians acted like musicians. Real artists. You could see them playing off each other and riffing on things that were obviously improvised. But the Boston show, with much more expensive tickets, was over-produced and plastic. It just wasn’t the same. They brought in some idiot “Justin” kid to rip on some all LCD beat box electronica thing. He just pushed buttons to play micro tracks of samples. Boring. And then they had some guest singer who was trying to be a combination of Jamiroquai and Prince. He sucked so bad that everyone around us was complaining and he killed the whole room for 10 minutes. No one was dancing.
I learned an important lesson at this second show. Venue matters. The jazz festival brought out the best in the musicians as they must have been inspired by all the talent surrounding them throughout the city. But when you sell tickets to kids that have no interest in the music, the performers play down to the crowd. It’s sad, but I can’t help think it’s true.
We hear about sports teams playing to their level of competition all the time. And you wonder about the motivation and rationale for such action. When you see that this mentality can exist in other life-genres, it makes you wonder about how often we do it ourselves. I know I have. It certainly is the reason that successful people want to surround themselves with top talent. It further reminds me that for others to perform at their best, I’ve got to do my part to surround them with inspiration as well. At some point, I will create a ‘venue’ of my own. I will do my best to inspire those that work with me in that quest.