In July 2008 I booked a ticket to San Francisco. I was double bass player for Gail Kingston’s Hot Foot Jazz and we were making plans to appear at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in May 2009.
This was a big deal for us. The band was in peak form; we’d just completed a new CD “Can You Tame Wild Wimmen” and Gail was hot favourite as we toured to jazz festivals across south-eastern Australia.
Exposure in the US would be a breakthrough; we’d tighten up our stagecraft and have a chance to mix it with some of the best traditional jazz musicians from around the world.
Then in September 2008 Lehman Brothers collapsed, and the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 really took hold. Major sponsors for the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee dropped out. The Festival continued but there would no longer be funding for overseas bands for the 2009 Festival.
Hot Foot Jazz never made it to Sacramento. And the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee – which was renamed the Sacramento Music Festival – folded in 2017. Apparently an attendance of 20,000 that year made it unviable for the future!
Hot Foot Jazz continues, though sadly without our erstwhile leader, Gail Kingston. But who could blame her for pulling the plug? Years of keeping in line seven headstrong and opinionated improvising musos can’t have been easy.
The band’s roots stretch a long way back. Some of the vocal arrangements were by the band’s original trombonist, Deryck “Kanga” Bentley. Kanga had toured Europe with Graeme Bell in the early 1950s, and at times their famous Australian Jazz Band – including luminaries like Ade Monsbourgh and Johnny Sangster – introduced traditional jazz to countries where it had not previously been part of the music scene.
At least we have a record of more recent times: that CD we made in 2008. It’s available on most major music streaming services. Here are some places you’ll find us:
– Apple Music
– Amazon Music
The three most popular tracks at the moment are:
- Can You Tame Wild Wimmen
- He Plays Trombone Chicago Style
- Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears
Which one is your favourite?
“So isn’t this story all a bit self-indulgent at this time of health and jobs crisis?” I hear you ask. Yes, for sure, I agree. The cancellation of our appearance at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in no way threatened my livelihood! In fact it saved me a considerable amount of out-of-pocket expense.
But a recent news item prompted these memories: “This week, in an alternative universe devoid of coronavirus, more than 40 emerging Australian acts would have been in Austin, Texas, knee-deep in the now-cancelled South by South West, showcasing their work to the international industry in hopes of taking their careers to the next level.”
I really feel for all these disappointed musicians who put so much time, effort and money into pitching for an appearance at South by South West, and making it through the selection process ahead of 7,000 other artists. For some it might have been the launching pad into a musical career with a liveable – if precarious – income.
It highlights for me the importance of supporting all our artists through this disastrous coronavirus hiatus, when concerts, residencies and gigs are being cancelled everywhere. How are they to live and thrive if our governments don’t come to the rescue with substantial support packages?
Hopefully by October COVID-19 will be on the wane, and Hot Foot Jazz will be back on the bandstand at the South Coast Jazz Festival. We’d love to see you there.
In the meantime, here’s something you can do to support artists, roadies and stage crew who are out of work: make a donation to SupportAct.
May I indulge further with a couple Dad musician jokes?
Question: What do you call a musician who doesn’t have a partner who has a job?
Bonus question: What’s the difference between a musician and a term deposit?
Answer: A term deposit eventually matures and generates an income.