May 2022 Message
Dear ATJS Members and Friends:
On March 13, 2022 the Austin Traditional Jazz Society ended two years of hibernation by launching its 2022 season with the Annual Jam Session at Ben Hur Shrine Temple. The Board of Directors had little idea what to expect, but the event was a success. About 120 persons attended, and 18 of them were jazz musicians who performed, quite well.
This seemed to indicate that there was some pent-up demand for Society concerts, so we proceeded to the first event headlined by a standing jazz ensemble. This was the April 10 concert given by the Dirty River Jazz Band of San Antonio. This band has played very well for ATJS since its initial concert in 2016, and drawn very well, too.
The concert drew 60 people, a major disappointment and a far lower turn out than any of the concerts at Cap City Comedy Club. The Society’s expenses are now higher than they were at Cap City. It has financial reserves that will carry it for a while, but a concert turnout like that raises many questions. It is essential that if the followers of the Society wish it to continue, they must attend concerts and urge others to do the same.
It would be nice if the Society could pick up where it left off in 2020 and hold concerts in a large venue. There are at least two alternatives to continuing as before. One is to seek a smaller venue, hire only local bands, and limit attendance to about 100 people. A second is to conclude that the demand for traditional jazz concerts being on the decline, perhaps the Society has served its purpose and needs to disband.
Concurrent with this the Society has requested members to step forward and join the Board of Directors. No one has done so. At one time the Board had eleven Directors. Now it has five. These concerts don’t run themselves. A lot of work goes into them, and Society members and other local jazz fans should not assume that events will move forward out of force of habit.
Some years ago the Society was in a similar position, and a retired business owner from Maryland stepped forward and offered to help. His name was Malcolm Rodman, and he pretty much ran the financial fortunes of the Society as President and Treasurer until he and Beverly moved on to California. The Society recently lost its Treasurer, and once again is in need of bookkeeping assistance.
My friends, a lot is riding on the next two concerts. The Society’s mission is to preserve and present traditional jazz. This requires an audience. We need new Directors and better attendance to stay our present course. If events show the need for change, this will be decided upon over the summer. We welcome your input, and even more we welcome your attendance. The March Jam Session was a welcome end to our enforced separation. It was great to see many familiar faces again after long stays at home, along with meeting some new friends. I hope that the Society will regain traction and move forward. It’s up to you.