A FAN'S PERSPECTIVE        DURING THE PANDEMIC               (2020-2021) 

As a contemporary jazz fan for over 30 years, never did I think that a pandemic would have me appreciating my world of this music genre even more. In the late 1980s early 1990s, many of us were working at a garden center in Northern Virginia, and listened to a contemporary jazz radio station to calm our nerves and lessen our stress during the busy seasons. I started to collect cassette tapes. We even had a few trips to catch musicians in Washington D.C., and the suburbs. Since then, I had also attended many in person concerts and bought many CDs. In March 2020 little did I know that an online venue with human being extraordinaire Dave Koz would set in motion many live stream events over the next year. Dave talked about Rick's Cafe Live (RCL) from Los Angeles every Saturday night at 6:30 PT. So I tuned in, and my world opened up not only to musicians I knew and followed over the years, but up-and-coming ones as well. There was a steady stream of amazing musicians on his YouTube channel, and even though it was free to join, donations (in my opinion, if you could afford it, they should be made to all musicians) were encouraged, and very much appreciated. This has been true with most of the venues. The pace was lively on RCL. Fans checked in on the site, chatted, and gave emojis of encouragement to the musicians. It was a party every Saturday night. Super-talented sax player Boney James, came to us live from his backyard studio every other Friday afternoon for Solid Fridays; Entertainer/Mr. Fun/Multi-Talented, piano, keyboard and trombone player Brian Culbertson did and is still doing a show called The Hang every Friday evening from his Chicago Studio; Michael Lington as well brings his sax super-talent to Stageit from his studio on Sunday evenings, and won their first Stagies award for innovator of the year/most creative. There also have been the impromptu virtual visits too many to list, from extraordinarily talented sax player Dave Koz and his many concerts, through Looped and throughout the year. Dave also promotes, as mentioned earlier, many of his fellow musicians. He and many others do with up-and-coming musicians as well. Again too many to list. Gerald Albright also did his first incredible live show recently at the Lone Tree Arts Center in Colorado. It was also streamed live. There are so many more you could attend, but these are the ones I can speak directly about.
Recently I heard an interview with Grammy award-winning producer Ian Brennan by Scott Simon of NPR. He stated "Music is social work. I would argue that when you talk about an artist like Bruce Springsteen at certain stages of his career or James Brown or Nina Simone, they've probably done more healing than any psychiatrist or social worker could hope to do in a lifetime. And that's not to belittle at all the work of social workers and psychologists, but it's a powerful, powerful medium. It's a drug. Music is medicine." I couldn't agree with him more. These contemporary jazz musicians are healers with their own style of medicine music. Many of these musicians have no idea how much they have helped their fans get through the dark days of this pandemic. I for one am one of those fans. Forever grateful for the Solid Friday afternoons with Boney James, hanging (The Hang) Friday evening with Brian Culbertson, partying and dancing with Rick Braun of Rick's Cafe Live (RCL) every Saturday night, then rounding out the weekend on Sunday tuning into Stageit and grooving with Michael Lington. Dave Koz can pop in any time.

So even though I have been a contemporary jazz fan for over 30 years, this past year has brought me a renewed sense of love for this music genre, but more importantly, what beautiful, genuine people there are behind the music. Like many fans, I felt I have gotten to know them personally through these virtual visits. As Rick Braun has said at the end of each show, "We can't spread the germs, but we can spread the love. " This is something we have needed now more than ever. Love that is, not the germs! Even though live venues are opening up, cannot wait to attend Berks 30th Jazz Festival in Reading, PA in August, I am seeing musicians realize that in person and live stream can coexist. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done and continue to do.