“Thanksgiving” is a manufactured holiday. In this century, you can have roast turkey whenever you like, and any dish with marshmallows should be eyed skeptically.
But being thankful among friends and fine jazz intensifies the pleasure. It’s gratitude in swing. One particularly nifty place to have this experience is at the San Diego Jazz Fest (once known as the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival — accurate but unwieldy) which is taking place this year between November 27 and December 1.
Many of my heroes and friends will be there!
How about Ray Skjelbred, Katie Cavera, John Gill, Marty Eggers, the Reynolds Brothers, Grand Dominion, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Kevin Dorn, Jeff Hamilton, Leon Oakley, Chris Tyle, Tom Bartlett, Orange Kellin, Conal Fowkes, Bob Schulz, Carl Sonny Leyland, High Sierra, Glenn Crytzer, Bob Draga, and many others. Because I know I’ve left out many favorites, be sure to visit here and check out the schedule.
San Diego presents so many choices that it will require some advance planning — seven venues, big and small, offering music almost simultaneously. (One must choose: “Do I stay in one spot and take what’s offered me or do I prance from place to place in search of Elysian sounds?” It’s not an easy choice.)
The festival offers a wide variety of swinging sounds — from ragtime and banjo sing-alongs (think George M. Cohan and SHINE ON HARVEST MOON) to “hot jazz,” “Dixieland,” “boogie woogie,” “blues,” “gypsy jazz,” “swing dance,” and other, less classifiable experiences. And there are many special sets: clarinet extravaganzas, piano duets (Paolo and Stephanie, a special treat), and a Battle of the Bands between Glenn Crytzer’s Savoy Seven and Stompy Jones (the latter featuring John Cocuzzi as well). Second Line parades, dance classes, tributes to Louis Armstrong, Irving Berlin, and Bob Scobey.
It won’t sway anyone who isn’t already interested, but the Beloved and I will be there.
Five-day badges are only $105: details here. And the rooms at the Town and Country Convention Center are surely comfortable. I’ve even learned, after three years of practice, how to get back to my room after the last set. Good jazz sharpens one’s navigational skills!
Here’s a song that might be the festival’s theme song — in a wonderfully sweet performance from the 2012 Fest:
So I suggest, meaning no offense to your sweet-natured relatives, that you tell them you will be available for dinner and anecdotage any weekend of the year except this one. Walk, drive, fly, hitch to San Diego for Thanksgiving! (And late November there is positively balmy . . . wool sweaters not needed.)
And as a postscript: if you were to search JAZZ LIVES by entering the words “San Diego” in the appropriate box, you would find more hot jazz videos than you could watch in a day and a night . . . evidence of the riches that have been offered and will go on, thanks to the musicians, to Paul Daspit, and to the enthusiastic volunteers and staff (including the enthusiastic Jim McNaughton). San Diego Joys!
May your happiness increase!