CapitalBop’s Jazz Loft MegaFest @DC Jazz Festival

Today begins a ten-day, multi-venue celebration of jazz in Duke Ellington’s hometown. Consisting of over 100 performances, from elegant presentations at the Kennedy Center to outdoor family festivals to late-night club parties, the DC Jazz Festival offers enough choices to make a music lover’s head spin. But there’s one offering that stands apart from the rest: CapitalBop’s Jazz Loft Series, culminating in the Jazz Loft MegaFest. A unique, multimedia experience of the creative community of jazz, the Jazz Loft MegaFest, June 9 from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., also presents an exciting opportunity to listen local.

CapitalBop, founded in 2010 by Giovanni Russonello, aims to unite and highlight the vibrant jazz scene that calls DC its home. “I’ve always been a huge fan of jazz,” says Russonello. “But when I was going out to jazz shows as a kid, what I noticed was, no one was at them! There’d be these amazing shows with just very small audiences… CapitalBop was founded on the premise that the DC jazz scene itself has never lacked for impressive experiences, high-quality art, and exciting personalities. What people don’t understand, especially in this town, is they think it’s this historical art form that loses relevance as time passes. But for all the tropes, it’s not dying, and it never will die. It’s improvisatory, and it changes with the times. Because it’s made in the moment, you experience its creation, and that’s why live jazz shows are so thrilling…I thought of magazines like Time Out New York and the Village Voice, or the City Paper here in Washington. They serve an important purpose just by letting people know what’s going on around here. So I wanted to create something like that: an online home for the DC jazz scene.”

Soon after the CapitalBop site launched in 2010, Russonello’s friend and collaborator Luke Stewart joined him as an editor. Stewart’s band, Laughing Man, rented space at Gold Leaf Studios (a.k.a. Red Door), which became the home for the DC Jazz Loft Series starting that December. Russonello calls the Loft Series “unmediated spaces for unmediated music.”

“DC jazz performers and audiences needed not just an online resource, but to experience different presentations of the scene, get it out of the club circuit and give young people—and everyone else who may not have known about what’s happening here—a chance to participate in the jazz scene.”

The site launched in September 2010. The first project was a calendar of jazz events all over the city, which exists today as a complete, monthly catalog of every single upcoming show in DC. Beyond basic event info, the calendar contains previews, descriptions, and editor recommendations regarding each event, “so that you’ll know what you’re going to get out of every show,” as Russonello said. But there’s more to building a music scene’s online home. “The site itself is built around being most utilitarian to those who don’t know the scene,” said Russonello. As such, it also hosts a guide to DC’s jazz-friendly neighborhoods and the bars and clubs where jazz cats play. Its front page and blog are home to a wealth of articles, videos and photos. Posts may be video previews for shows, profiles of dynamic local artists, or info on the city’s weekend lineup.

The concert series known as the DC Jazz Loft Series, on the other hand, gained prominence at last year’s Jazz Fest. Russonello considers working with an organization as large and respected as the DC Jazz Fest to have been a major taking-off point for CapitalBop, which presented four Loft Series shows for Jazz Fest last year. “For every show, we paired really renowned bands from out of town—last year they were all from New York—with local bands. It both gave the most innovative musicians in the country a home right here in DC, and gave the local bands a lot of really good exposure as the openers for nationally renowned groups.” Among CapitalBop’s local collaborators are two of Listen Local First’s featured artists for the month of June, Donvonte McCoy and Kris Funn, who headlined CapitalBop’s section of Lumen8Anacostia earlier this year. Russonello said that the success of last year’s Loft Series also greatly increased traffic to the CapitalBop site. “It’s interesting, because we started the site as a tool to get people out to the live shows, but it turns out to work the other way around as well.”

This year, CapitalBop is presenting some similar Loft Series shows to last year’s: nationally renowned groups paired with local jazz bands. The Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra, unique in that it is led by a bass clarinet, headlines with Christie Dashiell Quartet tonight (6/1/12) at The Dunes, and Kris Funn & Corner Store—one of LLF’s June featured artists—open for “absolute star” group Tarbaby on Saturday 6/2 at The Fridge.

But the big event, the Jazz Loft MegaFest, is in a whole other league. From 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., visitors to the three-floor “loft” at 629 New York Avenue will experience music, film, food and fun as only DC could do it. MegaFest will feature:

-Concerts all day, leading up to a two-set headline show by Marc Cary’s Cosmic Indigenous
“Danceable, futurist, roots-exploring but also totally experimental jazz”

-Spotlight of up-and-coming high-school all-stars of the Jazz Academy, under Paul Carr

-Screening of “Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense,” a film about the living jazz scene

-Panel on the cross-pollination of jazz and hip-hop by Shaolin Jazz

-Pop-up shop of vintage clothes and records, plus “floating art gallery,” by SHAM

-Catering and drinks by Taste of DC‘s network of local chefs

Russonello says that the diverse multimedia format of MegaFest “stresses the idea that jazz is a way of integrating thoughts, feelings, and experience into a real-time form of expression. It’s music that really knows no bounds, because you can create what you want, and create with your heart, and have the musical vocabulary to do that…It’s really about creating a community around an art form, or around the shared experience of art being created in front of you. The most exciting thing is how much of an experience it will be.”

Saturday, June 9 / 3 p.m.-2 a.m. / 629 NY Ave. NW / $10-12 online, $15 at the door. Tickets & Schedule

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Live Showcase & Panel on Web Streaming

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UPDATE: Listen to the Audio from the panel discussion HERE

PANEL DISCUSSION – Web Streaming and Tech Development for a Local Music Community

In order to develop a thriving cultural community, artists musicians and fans must explore and adopt new technologies and platforms that enhance promotion and distribution of the arts. Join us on Thursday May 17th to hear from DC developing media and technology platforms who are striving to better the local cultural community.

Suggested Donation $5-$10 is encouraged though Tixelated:

https://d.tixelated.com/#/00118

(check it out – the ticketing platform of the future, space and beyond)

Presentations and Discussion Panel 7:00pm – 8:00pm :

Jennifer Vinson – DC Setlist – Moderator

Philippe Chetrit – Tixelated
Rob Connelly – ESL Radio
Paul Vodra – Hometown Sounds
Alex Sleighter – DC Decibel
(More Speakers TBA)

LIVE MUSIC SHOWCASE: 8:30pm – 11:00pm

Adrian Krygowski – http://adriankrygowski.bandcamp.com/
Teen Mom – http://teenmomdc.com/
The Grey Area – http://onesheet.com/thegreyareadc/
Redline Graffiti – http://redlinegraffiti.bandcamp.com/

May Featured Artists and Showcases!!!

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Local Music Day May 9th 
Listen Local First Showcase May 17th @ Blackbyrd
Panel Discussion on Web Streaming and Digital Platforms for Local Music Discovery: Presentations and Discussion from Tixelated, ESL Music and MORE…
Live Music Performances by: The Grey Area, Teen Mom, Adrian Kyrgowski and MORE
Artists:
Mary Alouette – http://maryalouette.com/
Teen Mom – http://teenmomdc.com/
All Good Funk Alliance – http://www.allgoodfunkalliance.com/
Don’t Miss:
Participating Businesses


Tryst, Open City, The Diner, Flying Fish Coffee, Yola, Sova, Domku, Local 16, Fojol Bros, The Big Board, Ebenezers, Dangerously Delicious Pies, Pulp, Nana, Big Bear Cafe, Mellow Mushroom, Busboys & Poets, Qualia Coffee, Acre 121, Marvin/Blackbyrd, Blind Dog Cafe

Arts Advocacy Receives Research Gift

Two major Arts Education studies were released this past week, the FRSS 10-year comparison and the Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth a 12-year longitudinal study.  When these studies are married, their effectiveness as a tool for advocacy becomes undeniably clear.  While the FRSS will get much of the press because Secretary Duncan presented it, the study is of little consequence to the progression of arts education other then outright stating of significant declines in the amount of offerings across the board.  On the other hand, move over Charlie Bucket, the longitudinal study is the golden ticket arts education advocators have been praying for.

The longitudinal study gives the data for students of Low Socioeconomic Status (low SES) with both high and low arts exposure and their counterparts in the High Socioeconomic Status (high SES).  The matrixes measured for each of the four categories include high school graduation rates, civic involvement, recorded GPA, college graduation rates, average test scores, volunteer rates, other extracurricular activities, and labor market outcomes.  The results are startling, not because they affirm what advocates have said for years, but because of the achievement gap between low SES/low arts and low SES/high arts.

Looking at graduation rates alone, low SES/low arts had a dropout rate of 22%, compare that to low SES/high arts with a dropout rate of 4%.  The low SES/high arts students are even below the overall sample average of 7%.  For the mindset of these low SES/high arts students, we need only to look at the percentage of 8th graders planning to earn a bachelor’s degree 74% compared to 43%.  These are motivated students and compared to their low arts counterparts they are 14% more likely to vote in a national election or local election, 21% more like to volunteer, and 29% more likely to read the newspaper.  Looking at grades and curriculum, the high arts students have an average GPA of .39 points above low arts and were 10% more likely to enroll in calculus while in high school.

It should be noted that the high arts students are inherently involved individuals, as they are participants in athletics and service organizations.  However, students who are involved in other activities but are low arts do not have as high of GPA or curriculum gains as high arts students.

This is all fine and dandy, but why am I saying that this is hugely important when combined with the FRSS data?  Because in secondary school music alone there was a drop of 19% of offered programs for students in the low SES, but the high SES saw an increase of 6% between 2000-2010.  In affect, the advantage is going to the advantaged, while the disadvantaged are becoming disenfranchised.  But there’s more: of the high SES, 62% of schools offered 5 or more courses in the music, while low SES only measured 32%.

One area the low SES has dominated though is in collaboration and integration.  Music teachers in low SES are 14% more likely to consult with other teaches to incorporate units of study from other subject areas into the music curriculum and 17% more likely to utilize an integrated music instructional program with other academic subjects and 18% with other arts subjects.

Like music, visual arts have rather similar data (in secondary schools): a drop in offering for the low SES of 13% and only 22% of the remaining programs offering 5 or more courses.  Compare that to the 95% of high SES schools of which 56% offer 5 or more visual arts classes.  The unexpected number in all this comes from the consulting with other teachers to incorporate units of study from other subject areas into the visual arts curriculum indicator for low SES, which stands a staggering 17% above high SES.

So what’s the conclusion?  The students who benefit most from high exposure to the arts are receiving less of it then they did 10 years prior.  Granted we had the Great Recession and states have to balance their budgets, as a native Californian (and boy, did we get hit hard in 2008) I understand.  That does not mean we are off the hook.  As Secretary Duncan has said time and again, “we’re either going to invest in education or not, it comes down to the values.  Everyone has to step up or we’re going to struggle.” (March 2, 2012)