Monday, July 11, 2011

The Magic Jazz Fairy Rages

Three months.

Its brow furrowed, its wings folded tight against its back, it frowned with frustration. Click again, maybe something will come up this time, it thought. It went back, then clicked the link again. But only a bright white screen stared back, blank.

“Why do they make it so hard?” the Magic Jazz Fairy exclaimed. “They haven’t put a schedule online in three months!”

Every city, as you no doubt know, has its Magic Jazz Fairy, a mystical being who knows about all jazz in a city and silently flies around at night, and whispers into the ear of every jazz fan when and where to find jazz, so we wake up knowing, just knowing. Magic Jazz Fairies must exist, because how else could promoters who fail to promote jazz events expect people to show up? Those sly promoters. We think they sometimes don’t even try to draw a crowd. But they know about the Magic Jazz Fairy. They know the Magic Jazz Fairy will tell everyone. They know that a Magic Jazz Fairy exists – what other reasonable explanation is there for their lack of promotion? – and that’s all the proof anyone should require that it does.

I’ve written before about Kansas City’s Magic Jazz Fairy (here and here). Sadly, ours has faced personal demons and slacked off in its job, and when it did, word failed to get out on jazz events, and attendance dissipated. There’s the real reason for the decline of jazz in Kansas City: our Magic Jazz Fairy drank too much. But our Magic Jazz Fairy, as told in an earlier post, feels a sense of responsibility, and it sobered up. And, despite temptations to drink again, it has remained a jazz whisperer.

But sometimes, those promoters do not make its job easy.

The Magic Jazz Fairy stared at the screen, not sure what to do next.

Not many clubs in Kansas City showcase jazz anymore. A steakhouse downtown is one of the few. On the front page of its web site, that steakhouse proclaims that it features, “some of the area's best live jazz musicians, including Bram Wijnands, Rod Fleeman, Tommy Ruskin, Joe Cartwright, Barry Springer, and David Chael, to name a few. And what's more, you will never pay a cover….”

There’s the kind of promotion any Magic Jazz Fairy welcomes. And right at the top of the web page, a link which reads, “Live Jazz Calendar / Special Events.” A Live Jazz Calendar on the web site. All you need to do is click that link to find out which one of “the area's best live jazz musicians” will be entertaining at that steakhouse that night with no cover charge. What more could one ask?

One could ask for there to actually be a calendar when you click the link. For the third consecutive month, when you click it, there is no calendar. Instead, you’re served up a blank screen.

“How can I help you,” the Magic Jazz Fairy cried out, “when your schedule is, apparently, top secret?”

Then there’s that other challenge in attracting a jazz audience in Kansas City, food.

Not at the steakhouse. There, the food is excellent.

And at a Plaza area jazz club, the online calendar is excellent, maintained flawlessly. But at that Plaza club, the food, well, there’s a challenge.

The Magic Jazz Fairy has heard the rumblings. It’s flown into the rooms of jazz fans while they slept at night, and whispered jazz dates into their ears, only to hear after mentioning the Plaza area club a mumbled, “But that new menu…”

The Magic Jazz Fairy tried the cuisine itself, twice. First time, brisket sliders sounded good. But when the plate of three arrived, they were dry and bland, and one was fatty. So the next time it tried the chicken mini-tacos. Again, a plate of three was served. But the soft tortillas of every one of them fell apart, spilling contents in an unappetizing mess all over its hands. This for mini-tacos which work out to five dollars a piece. For pity’s sake, the Magic Jazz Fairy thought, I’m no food critic, but I know a nice restaurant in the Crossroads where I can find mini-tacos for two dollars each which don’t fall apart. That’s the competition for this type of meal.

The Magic Jazz Fairy knew of patrons who wanted to hear jazz with their dinner, but wanted a good meal, too, so they went elsewhere. It even heard of musicians recommending to their fans to eat first then come and sit at the bar of the Plaza area club for the jazz.

The Magic Jazz Fairy despaired. How could it do its job? How could it help bring people to jazz? One club is promoting a blank screen instead of its music product. Another is discouraging supporters with its non-music product.

It had to stay silent, the Magic Jazz Fairy decided. It would continue to fly throughout Kansas City and whisper to jazz fans about upcoming jazz shows and not share how it felt. The other matters might gnaw at it, but don’t do anything stupid, it thought, like posting the issues Kansas City jazz fans were discussing among themselves in a blog where someone else might find out.

The Magic Jazz Fairy sat in front of its computer. Then, almost on a whim, it typed into its browser

Best to keep its job options open, the Magic Jazz Fairy thought. Just in case.


  1. But that new menu.... yep, there's a prob with it.

  2. What happens when the Magic Jazz Fairy discovers that many of the online listings that a few of our jazz venues do post are woefully inaccurate?

  3. It's not just the clubs, but the musicians who have blank or outdated schedule pages on their websites.


Comments are welcome. If you prefer, you can reach me directly at kcjazzlark(at)gmail(dot)com.