Blue Street has gone through many changes over its 32 years. In recent times, I have left California and moved to Louisiana, Sam left Fresno and moved to the Bay area, and Nate left Fresno and lives in the LA area. Jason Wanner who lived in the Sacramento area relocated to San Diego. The couple who has moved the most is Sherri and Matty. They have moved from Fresno to Sacramento to Virginia to New Orleans to Fresno and are contemplating perhaps another move. Despite these moves the band has been able to still perform at a high level. How? Because we had countless weekly rehearsals and performances over the years and we were able to build up a huge repertoire. I think our band is better than ever. Why? Because four of us are fulltime professional musicians that perform daily and the others have improved their skills. Of our fulltime professional players, several of them are considered the top in their field.
Today, I believe that Blue Street faces some real challenges. With all the moving around and with our primo players being recruited to perform in other bands at festivals, there seems to be a growing rumor that our band is breaking up. This has led to Blue Street being invited to less and less festivals. Case in point: There are two festivals in the Sacramento area this year and Blue Street was not invited to either of them. This happened despite that fact that Blue Street has always been popular in Sacramento. We are not returning to Medford or Eureka which we were always a perennial. We performed at Dixieland Monterey over twenty consecutive years and have been cutout the past few years.
There is no question that there are fewer festivals to play at. No Mammoth, no Friday Harbor, no Helena, no LA Classic just to name a few. And there are some good up and coming bands. But I maintain that Blue Street is still one of the most talented and versatile bands that the Jazz Circuit has ever seen. The band is able to perform Dixieland songs, Swing tunes, and New Orleans styled Mardi Gras tunes at a very high level. We are no one trick pony. We play Gospel music very well. We have made a number of informative presentations on jazz and jazz education over the year that are well researched and well presented. We have smaller groups within our group – Blue Renditions and Le Hot Club de Rue Bleu that play Swing music and Gypsy Jazz respectively. No band in recent years has contributed more new material (original songs and arrangements) than Blue Street.
With all this being said I’m hoping those reading this blog can help us out. Next time you are at a festival that Blue Street is not at, when filling out a festival survey, please mention that you’d like to see Blue Street there next time. This action would be deeply appreciated. Keeping Blue Street playing is a sure way to keep the band together.