You may recall my past advice of investing your time enjoying LIVE performances. How else can you formulate an opinion on your gear? Live is being there... right now. No tricks, no equalizer boards, no reverb - just LIVE!
Sunday, January 23, 2000 was Arts Day in sleepy Sarasota, Florida. This annual fest is part carnival (the food) part crafts show, many local charities and arts groups hawking their wares - but mostly we go for the music. The Arts Day puts together over 1,500 professional artists, musicians, dancers and others while showing in no fewer than seventeen locations in and around downtown area. Too many to see in one day, but lots of choices. My wife Sandie and I shuffled from place to place quickly passing most of the Artsy stuff to savor the music which was in bloom all over the city.
We started with The Jazz Club of Sarasota with Kenny Soledblom and Kenny Drew. These veterans know and understand jazz. Hot trumpet, sax, guitar and drums pleased the most critical listeners in the crowd, especially we somewhat "older" folks who remember some the the great ensembles of yesteryears. These guys do not know how to retire or quit! This is the beauty of music. You never grow too old to enjoy great music.
A nearby stage held a trio of singers called MetroActive, comprising a father/daughter and another female singer, along with a keyboard man who joined in the singing. The tunes were Broadway, Pop, and favorites of yesteryear all in harmony similar to Manhattan Transfer. Mellow and not jarring; sweet, but not too sweet. Back to another of the stages to hear The Gumbo Buggy Band and then the Dancesport Ecstasy. The dance group was made up of mostly teen aged dancers doing everything from ballet to modern and interpretive dance. These kids were enthusiastic and wonderful! They made the day for many parents and grand-parents, as well as the audience, in general. The dance music was canned, but the dance was what you came to see at this location.
We cruised down Main Street to get a cup of coffee and sat on the curb to listen to a group called Voces Libres Latin America Music. Great hot Latin rhythms had people dancing in the streets. The folks just passing through fell into step with the music. Guitar, drums, harp and oh what a beat. I think I must have been Latin in one of my former lives. The coffee was great, by the way.
Back to one of the main stages to partake of The Sarasota Concert Band. This group has quite a history dating back to the old John Ringling Circus, which was instrumental for the formation of the band. Sandie and I are "band parents" from way back when, so bands capture our attention (editors note: Eli and Sandie kindly allowed both my brother Mark and my own drum sets to be located in our home's livingroom. Parents do not get any better than this). This ensemble of perhaps thirty or so players ranged in age from teens to social security, again proving there is no age barrier in music. Sousa, John Williams and others were represented in typical band arrangements. Lots of brass, woodwinds, flutes, drums - the Works! We hope they continue for several more generations of listeners.
Now on to something completely different. How about Dan Electro and The Silvertones? Rock, Rockabilly, Fun toe tapping music of the Big Band Era. Suddenly, they are joined by a group of teen-agers dressed in Dick Tracy colored clothes of the post World War Two Era, complete with the long pocket chains and spectator shoes. Much better than any episode of American Bandstand you may recall. Their Jitterbugging was great and was made better by the music.
From the Sublime to the even more Sublime - The Westcoast Center Gospel Choir came on to perform. I do not know how you may feel, but Gospel Music has always held a special fascination for me. I sometimes would hang out near an old store-front church in our neighborhood to listen to the music. I knew my mother would have been hysterical if she knew, fearing for my immediate conversion, or something even worse! How wonderful, I always thought, that there could be such joy and loving music in the praise of a Higher Power. Listening to this music and songs as a kid lead to a fond appreciation of the music composed for the church, especially big organ music. Whew! Blows me away every time.
Unfortunately, the sun is about to set and too quickly the day is over. We missed out on the Sarasota Ballet, the Sarasota Opera, NYC Doo-Wop, Folk Dancing and dozens of other entertaining acts. At the end of the day we realized we have spent six fast hours at the Arts Day. Too many acts, too few hours. A pity, but we are determined to do better next year. Please plan on joining us next year now that the secrets of sleepy old Sarasota are on the internet? You will be pleased with the ambience, beaches, food, cultural happenings and convenience of it all. Just don't expect us to put you up for the night, as we are already booked!
Live and in-person music! Participate, listen, and, to steal a phrase, Enjoy The Music.
Now listening to Chicago Symphony, Reiner conducting Pictures at an Exhibition, RCA Red Seal RCD1-5407