SACRAMENTO BANJO BAND

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Where Do We Go from Here
Banjo Connections -- by Jim Matthews

By the time you read this I will have returned from my trip to China, which I canít report on here because at the time I wrote this I havenít gone yet. But given the newsletter deadline, I might still be there now in which case I will be back after I leave. Actually I will be back before I leave since I will cross the International Dateline. So if you see me at home before I get back, you will know that I am on my way. Once I catch up with myself, I will report on my China trip for the next newsletter, which is the one that comes after this one. I will find a banjo connection somewhere. Right now, I will share my observations on the Jazz Jubilee.

This was the first time I wore a Sacramento Banjo Band shirt at a Jubilee. As I walked around, it seemed like people were always asking me where we would play next, or sharing the latest banjo joke. But it did feel like we were a popular attraction, even when playing in the streets. We held our own out there very well, competing with garbage trucks, sirens, and other bands.

I wondered if thatís what Tin Pan Alley was like, except that we were selling CDís instead of sheet music. Musicians who play the ďoldiesĒ always seem to talk about Tin Pan Alley, which, some research reveals, was originally the name given to West 28 th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, where many music publishers established offices, beginning around 1895. They would frequently perform in the street, right next to their competitors, in an attempt to sell their sheet music to whoever might pass by, hopefully a Broadway performer. The resulting cacophony made the reason for that name obvious, although Tin Pan Alley eventually became the name for the whole sheet music industry.

Of course, we didnít always play in the streets at the Jubilee. There was the popular Delta King and Holiday Inn, as well as other locations for smaller subsets of the band. Itís too bad about Cal Expo and the Pizza Tent. The Jubilee organizers are exploring alternatives. If you have any creative ideas, it might be well to let somebody know.

Even though venues are changing, most of the perennially popular bands seem to be returning. A favorite of mine is Igor and his Jazz Cowboys. They produce a very pleasing blend of jazz, folk, and country music. Come to think of it, so do we. As much as I admire Igor and his band, I must, as a historian, point out that their uniforms are not authentic. The Cavalry never wore those yellow neckerchiefs. They were added in Hollywood. No doubt influenced by John Wayne.

So the 2005 Sacramento Jazz Jubilee is now history. I trust somebody else will fill us in about Guthrie. I couldnít cross the international dateline enough times to make it to that one too.


Reprinted from the Sacrament Banjo Band Newsletter, July 2005, page 2.