Wednesday, March 11, 2009

About the blog, and music writing

One never knows who reads a blog. (There are ways to find out but I haven't yet explored them.) Lately I've heard from several people who read this blog, much to my surprise, and have wondered where it is, why it hasn't been updated, even if I have abandoned it.

It's still here, it hasn't been abandoned, and there are two reasons why I haven't kept it up for the past few weeks.

First, time. I want to be sure to keep my paying clients happy, especially now. They support my jazz habit and pay the bills. Thank you, paying clients.

Second, my MinnPost jazz writing gig changed. For more than a year I wrote one column each week. These weren't New Yorker-size profile pieces but they were long enough to justify interviewing artists, something that not only takes up their time but also involves a lot of preparation on my end. (For the curious, the final column is here.)

Starting in December, all MinnPost arts coverage was moved to a new Arts Arena section. We were asked to write more often and much shorter--about 400 words max. (If you have read this far, you're at 200.) How could I introduce an event, describe it, say why it’s worth attending, give enough background to prove it, and let the artist speak, all within those confines? Would it be worth the artists' time, and mine, to continue with interviews? I didn't want to recycle press releases or blah-blah opinions. To me, reporting on jazz includes learning something new, most often from the artist, and passing it on.

It took me a while to figure out how to make this work. If the early jazz recordings had to be kept to 3 minutes (due to technology limitations), I guess I can live with word-count constraints. Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues” (1928) clocks in at 3:18. I’m not comparing (how silly would that be), just finding inspiration where plenty of others have found it before me.

And the blog is back. Thanks for noticing its absence, and for reading.

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