Every July, for ten days, the quaint Italian town of Perugia turns into one of the world’s most fascinating cities: two free main stages in the center, an outdoor arena for major acts, a theater, and countless bars and clubs open to the wee morning hours, all trying to get in on the musical action. Thousands of tourists flock to the Umbria Jazz festival every summer, packing the streets day and night. There are street musicians, painters, clowns, dance crews, and even rock bands (ex. Heavy Wood) performing in every nook and cranny. It can get quite chaotic, or be, what back in Montana we would call, a bit of a “shit show”.
There are loads of journalists out trying to capture it all, resulting in countless montages and stories recounting pretty much the exact same thing, a lot of surface material, little substance. The musicians are glorified, the street is romanticized, and the locals are ignored. For most residents, Umbria Jazz is non-stop work. There are bartenders, waiters, chefs, stage crews, sound engineers, and people working in shops, all averaging about four hours of sleep per night.
For us, the 10-day festival is an opportunity for us to see what can happen if we, as musicians, work as hard as your average restaurant employee does. When Nicola approached us with the idea of documenting the festival from our perspective, we were very happy to oblige. His project offers context. Yes, we are dedicated, but so are the incredibly patient folks who work at the Feltrinelli, who probably did not know what they were getting into when they so generously offered us storage for our equipment. The folks at Snack Bar, who offered us drinks and provided us electricity, did not have the luxury of taking breaks between sets.
We made money. Our girlfriends, family, friends, and supporters did not. People like Jason Evers Johnson, who was there every single show to help us with sound, and people like Nicola who have the insight to capture the entire experience (hundreds of photos) are the people who make it all worthwhile.
There was also a significant amount of resistance this year, which Nicola mentions in his project. Not everybody is going to like what you do, but if enough people support it and YOU like it, then you have to do it with no apologies. That’s what we did, and as a result Umbria Jazz 2015 was a huge success. For a number of reasons we have decided to make it our last, and go out on a high note! We are very grateful that Nicola was there to tell the story.
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