The hot muggy part of summer is often called the dog days. It brings up an image of a slightly hazy mornings that later morphs into a very hot day and then into a porch sitting evening with not much of a breeze. These are the sticky days that can last through the early weeks of September. So here we are coming to an end of this year’s dog days. The days are shorter and the nights are longer. What we know is that we can still expect some more hot days, thunderstorms and sudden rain showers, especially when we are outside at a terrific event like the Detroit Jazz Festival
DAWG GONE IT DAYS
What did dogs do to deserve all the negative idioms like dog days, sick as a dog, dog tired, gone to the dogs, etc. etc.? Why do we bring up an image of a dog lying flat on a hot pavement with its tongue sticking out panting like a dog. We are constantly dogged by misleading references to dogs in our language. Negative connotations are constantly assigned to man’s best friend. It is totally unfair.
At the top of my list is the name of my favorite jazz club, The Dirty Dog Jazz Café. It could have been named The Super Clean Canine Music Club. This would have been fitting as the proprietor of the place is both a dog lover and a music lover. The problem is that probably no one is interested in spending that much time listening to clean music in a spiffy place.
Jazz is not about always about being clean and predictable, especially jazz played in Detroit. It is likely to be a little rough around the edges and that is OK with us.
THIS PAST WEEKEND IN DETROIT:
A community of like spirits gathered to celebrate good fellowship at the DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL
Now in its 40th year, the festival took place from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius in downtown Detroit. After all these years it remains an authentic jazz event.
On Saturday afternoon on the Pyramid Stage of The Detroit Jazz Festival Sheila Jordan gave us a taste of why we prefer some mud on the paws of our favorite jazz cats.She growled and shouted assuring us that she was talking truth with us. She was unafraid to speak her mind. Her voice wavered a little more than it once did. We listened. Detroiters listen when someone is authentic. Sheila Jordan’s journey has had bumps and some incredibly good fortune in having friends like Charlie Parker and Mingus. When trouble entered her life she turned to jazz to help pull her through. She has certainly earned the right to stand on the stage and preach to us a little. She gave meaning to familiar tunes and brought our attention to society’s shortcomings. Sheila reminded us that this is what jazz should be. She did it in real time to an audience that understood that jazz isn’t pablum. I was near a group of young jazz musicians that got a lesson in life from Sheila and the trio playing with her. They whooped and hollered as they glanced at each other when the electrifying music reached its peak. Year after year the Detroit Jazz Festival does its thing.
Here is Sheila:
Sitting close by and listening to Sheila, Mark Stryker was grinning as he listened. Sheila was affirming so much that he has written in his new book..
MARK STRYKER’S NEW BOOK
JAZZ FROM DETROIT
Sandwiched in between the main stages at the festival is the Mack Avenue Jazz Talk Tent.
I took some time out from live jazz to learn something about jazz in Detroit. Mark Stryker had covered music and art for The Detroit Free Press for 21 years before leaving to tell his take on what has kept Detroit constantly producing so many influential jazz artists. Mark has the advantage of having been there. The reader benefits from Mark asking direct questions through the years and getting honest answers. This process came from his deep personal interest in how the heck Detroit with its ups and downs has seen its music persevere and thrive. His personal insights makes this book stand alone. In the tent Mark explained jazz in Detroit and Detroit to an audience that knew almost as much as Mark does. Mark just has the skills to make it come alive. I spent one hour listening to Mark tie a lot of things I already knew together. Thanks to Mark I will know more about the music that I will be listening to this weekend.
DETROIT’S MUSIC REFLECTS DETROIT’S DOGGED DETERMINATION. BOTH ARE CELEBRATED ON LABOR DAY
LABOR DAY WEEKEND IN DETROIT
Back in the day when hard work was celebrated, Detroit had a grand Labor Day parade with stirring speeches. Detroit had plenty of hard work that needed to be done. The ones that did the hard work were appreciated, were well paid and were ensured a good retirement. They helped win a war and became part of America’s vibrant middle class. They worked hard, and they played hard. They took time to dine and dance and that meant that music was needed which would match the spirit and vitality of the city’s residents.. Detroit attracted musicians into a growing market, and Detroit became a great town for jazz. It still is, but it hasn’t been easy.
When the jobs disappeared so did the dancing, and and many of our jazz musicians left for greener pastures. Enough stayed and passed on the tradition, so that today Detroit continues to have a thriving jazz community.
In 2019 we seem to have less reason to celebrate the value of hard work. Today when one Googles Labor Day weekend events in Detroit, our traditional Labor Day parades are seldom mentioned. There are plenty of parades and speeches, but there seem to be more events that celebrate the good life that comes from working.
The Detroit Jazz Festival does celebrate the tradition of hard work, and our ability to enjoy life is still honored by the festival.
Many of us will be dog tired after walking venue to venue at a festival. We will be looking at for a comfortable chair to plop into and listen to jazz.
WELCOME BACK TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE´
The crew from the Dirty Dog will wrap up their stuff from the Dirty Dog tent Labor Day evening and begin getting everything ready at the Dirty Dog. They will also be dog tired but ready to keep the music going and welcome everyone back.
I think the Dog Days will continue as the days the Dirty Dog Jazz Café opens its door for jazz and food.
COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE´
September 4- September 5
Gary has a well deserved following who will have a chance to listen to this great pianist in an intimate club.
September 6 – September 7
Singer Michelle Lordi will help us continue to celebrate jazz this September.