2009 Nor Cal Blues Fest Canceled

In an email today from organizer Matson Breakey, (yes that is his real name) it appears that the 2009 Nor Cal Blues Festival has been canceled. The event was to be held on Sep 12 at Southside Park. Refunds, of course, will be given to those that have already bought tickets.

The real question is how sustainable are America’s original musical styles. Jazz and blues are slowly draining out of middle market towns like Sacramento. While the clubs and shows and performers in towns like Chicago and New York and San Francisco are still thriving, smaller market towns are losing any vestige of their former prominence.

The Jubilee is on life support, NCBF has been canceled, and fewer and fewer national acts come anywhere near our reasonably sized city. For example, when’s the last time Keith Jarrett swung through town? You see my point exactly, I’m sure.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I know some progress has been made in keeping a few venues in town going 3-5 nights a week on nothing but jazz and blues: clubs like Torch Club, and JB’s lounge. But more work needs to be done, especially in thinning the ranks of blues bands around here. If I see another “authentic” blues group fronted by a couple of bearded 50ish white guys wearing shirts with flames on them, I might never listen to the blues again. Clean up your house, blues musicians, and kick these guys to the curb. They’re giving you a bad name.

8 thoughts on “2009 Nor Cal Blues Fest Canceled”

  1. Wonder how much longer we’ll have Sacto Jazz Jubilee? Just a few yrs ago, had some 105,000 attendees on Mem Day Wkend; now I think we’re down to about 60000! Saaad!


  2. The Jubilee needs a total makeover. Organizers need to understand that their public image is that it is a festival for 90 year-olds. There is virtually no outreach or promotion to the giant population of young music goers in Sacramento. Old Sacramento is a pit that most people would prefer to avoid. The Convention Center as a live music venue? Barf.

    There need to be FREE shows with a young, party atmosphere that will showcase jazz to a new generation of fans. Jazz is party music!


  3. Have you been to the festival in recent years? The festival has opened up immensely to other forms of jazz – mainstream, zydeco, blues, swing, latin. If you haven’t been and sampled the different fare you can’t say it’s only for those that are 90. We do understand that we had to branch out to reach others with a wider range of the pallett of jazz. I am a mainstream musician and I am in the festival. Yes they do need to do more promotional work and that is being done. As for Old Sac being a “pit”. Over the festival weekend it is transformed and it is a perfect place to have jazz – in the old part of town. Have you been to the festival or are you going on what you read years ago? If you haven’t stepped out and come out you can’t very well criticize. Try it first, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


  4. I agree that the promotion of the event is poor. It does still have the old “dixieland jubilee” image. They need to get the word out better about the changes and the recent inclusion of more types of music.


  5. Do we know why it was cancelled? Economics, poor presale, or some personal reason?

    Sacramento has quite a few music festivals, most of which suffer from poor promotion, and many people’s seeming inability to realize that things happen in Sacramento…people put on events, but not many people go because they simply assume that nothing happens here.

    Few festivals are as poorly attended as the Norcal Noisefest, but that’s mostly because it features music that most people wouldn’t even consider music. http://www.norcalnoisefest.com


  6. Vivian, I was commenting on the impression that people have of the fest, not the reality. I was there last year, so I know that it has a diverse variety of music, which is why I commented on the need for better promotion that it features music that all sorts of people would enjoy, not just 90 year olds. I think that the fest needs to be marketed to a new generation, and not just by having high schoolers play in the Round Table. And, if people do not attend the fest, they will not know that the venue is transformed into something better than it is on a day-to-day basis.

    The NCBF was canceled due to economics and is planned to return in 2010. Big events require big money up front, and if this money is not there (through sponsorships, ticket pre-sales, or some sort of ongoing fund), then organizers face a tough decision of fronting their own money or canceling.


  7. 50ish, bearded white “guys” in flame shirts? I am thinkin’ Greg Allman and Stevie Ray Vaughn (if he was still alive). Bonnie Raitt..but no apparent beard (am thinking waxing is a must after 50). This must explain why my big mustached husband just bought a flame shirt….he just turned 55!


  8. And any flame shirt man should be on a Harley or behind a grill, but preferably not both at once. Fronting a blues band, however, not the best use of his time.


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