Summer is almost officially here, though it already feels like it when we step out of the crisp, cool corridors of the museum. In celebration of the sunshine and swelter, one of our public programs assistants, Laurel Fehrenbach, has some ultra funky sessions of our monthly jazz series, Take 5!, lined up for you. Eye Level grabbed Laurel on the fly to ask her about what's in store.
Urban Funk: On Tap This Thursday
Eye Level: So, you're "funkdefying" your monthly jazz concerts this summer. Which bands are on stage?
Laurel Fehrenbach: I'm really excited that I was able to grab some of the best local funk bands! DC has such an incredible history of jazz and that led directly into Funk and Go-Go. This Thursday, June 16, we have the Saxman himself, Wayne Sulc and Urban Funk. July 21 is the famed FunkArk, who are on the ESL label so we were lucky to nab them with their busy tour schedule. To close out the summer of a big not, the Kelly Bell Band will be on hand August 18. I can't wait!
EL: Where did you find your summer acts? Do you browse sites like MySpace Music, scout shows yourself, or ask other local programmers for recommendations?
LF: All of the above! Looking for funk bands was a pretty specific task so I had to do a lot of research and listen to a lot of great funk. Tough job, right? But someone has to do it!
EL: Aside from the music, what other features to Take 5! will continue this summer? Anything new?
LF: Summer seems to be a good time to experiment and try new things. We'll have our ever-popular board games, of course, but we'll also be working with the ArtJamz crew to add a visual art component to the concerts.
EL: Tell us a little bit more about your collaboration with ArtJamz.
LF: These guys are so cool! Michael Clements started this group in DC not long ago and it has totally taken off. For a registration fee they give you an easel, canvas, paints. The American Art Museum provides the free live funk music, galleries full of incredible art and the atmosphere of the Kogod Courtyard for added inspiration. You are free to unleash your inner artist and showcase your creativity on canvas while enjoying the concert and learning from your fellow painters. We'll see how funky everyone gets!
EL: We're sure you have quite a few groups vying for the once-monthly Take 5! slot. Can you tell us what you look for in a potential performer, and how Take 5! hopefuls should apply?
LF: I get lots of requests and I try to give everyone a fair shake. I'm more inclined to book bands that have never performed here before, but we also like to invite old friends back. If you are considering applying, send me a CD or direct me to your website with a reference or two. I tend to like quartets or larger, because the Courtyard is such a big space. High energy and audience engagement makes the best performances, but I also really love to work with groups on making connections between the artwork in galleries and the music they are performing. If you are a jazz musician and have ideas how your repertoire supports our collection, let me know!