Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Convention Highlights - Wednesday

I have a breather on this road trip, so I'll take some time and post some convention highlights and comments. I'll do it in daily installments, but I'll post them as I get them written. I don't have Internet access everywhere on this trip.

2006 was, from my viewpoint, a very successful convention. All the workshops and lectures I attended were helpful and informative. The entertainment was, well, entertaining. And, of course, the opportunity to meet new and old friends was just what it should be. Here is a day-to-day account of my time at the convention.

We (my grandson Landon and I) left Virginia early Wednesday morning. We used a lot of our nine hour motor trip to rehearse Landon's Jr. Open Mic show. We arrived at the Drawbridge at about 1:30 PM on Wednesday. At about 2:00 our room was ready and we checked in and got settled into our dwelling for the next four days.

Registration began at 3:30. We stood in line briefly and got our credentials and program. We had dinner in the restaurant with Lee Cornell, and Donald Woodford dropped by to tell me that General Open Mic was already fully booked. I didn't know that registration for that event had started. They did it differently last year. This was, in my view, an oversight by the convention staff. In previous years, the registration packet had a lot more literature, including an announcement of when and where the signup would occur. This year, they just put out a sheet without any announcement. It wasn't there when I registered, and I didn't know about it. It was not a big deal, because I had no show prepared. Donald insisted, however, that I add my name to the standby list. He said he wanted to see Uncle in action. I signed up, but as number three standby, I didn't think I'd make the list.

The first convention event was the Official Opening at 6:45 pm, with President Brooking and Mark Wade. After that was the first lecture, "Canoodle Marketing" by Steve Taylor. He presented an overview of his marketing strategies, which are available on video media. Steve stood in the middle of the room and spoke in synch with his slide presentation. I kept looking back at him and forward at the slides. I like to see the speaker, and this arrangement was uncomfortable for me.

Next was a playing of "A Winchell Celebration," a video prepared by Burt Dubrow and Jerry Layne. It was a fine presentation, and a moan went throughout the crowd when Jerry announced that the video was for the museum's archives and would not be offered for sale. I heard a lot of grousing about that in the days that followed. Folks thought the sales would be a good way to raise money for the museum. The reason, of course, has to do with copyright law. The video contains a lot of content still covered by copyrights. Acquiring licenses from all the people and organizations involved would be a daunting task and could be expensive.

The Big Wednesday Night Show was a success. MC Mike Bishop performed an optical illusion and a numbers trick, then introduced the three featured ventriloquists, Al Getler, Judy Buch, and Steve Taylor.

The Dealer's Rooms opened afterwards, and I headed for the Hospitality Suite. Landon, who is not a night owl, and who was tired from the early morning departure at 5:00 am and long day on the road, turned in. I was tired, too, but the Hospitality Suite is one of the highlights of the convention for me. I get to renew my friendships with Bob and Marti Hamill, Phillip Jones, Chris Donohue, and others, and drink beer, eat Cheet-Os, and swap jokes. I closed the room at 3:00 AM.


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