by Gus Marshall
Last month, the Central District played host to The Jackson Street Jazz Walk. A select few of Seattle’s deep bench of highly esteemed jazz musicians performed in venues, bars, restaurants, and arts centers on and around South Jackson Street from 21st Ave South to 17th Ave. South.
Critically acclaimed jazz vocalist, sensational songwriter, producer, event coordinator and the executive producer of this years Jackson Street Jazz Walk Eugenie Jones spoke with South Seattle Emerald about her experiences with planning and performing, as well the historical and cultural importance of where this event takes place.
Gus Marshall: How did you get involved with The Jackson Street Jazz Walk?
Eugenie Jones: I performed in 2016 and then produced and performed in one of the segments of the jazz walk in 2017 — Voices of Jazz. I got to know the previous organizer in the process and when he expressed the desire to step down, I volunteered to take on as the 2018 Executive Producer.
GM: How was it organizing this event? Was it your first time?
EJ: It was a lot of work, but in the end very rewarding. I have an MBA, extensive background in marketing, including event planning before the JSJW — so not a first time at this sort of thing; but a first time at this specific event.
Organizing the event was a lot of work, but I knew that going in and was committed to the jazz walk have greater meaning this time. Subsequently, added the food drive to the walk.
GM: As a singer performing at an event you are producing yourself, how did you balance your time between performance and practice with all the other task required of you?
EJ: Most of the planning and organizational work happens months in advance of the event…grant writing; finding and executing agreements with venues, creating marketing materials, setting up the new website and social media, coordinating with partners such as Pratt and Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, etc.
The night of the event, critical volunteers manned doors at each venue, receiving donations and providing information.
GM: How much money were you able to raise for Northwest Harvest?
EJ: Financial donations were primarily made online to the primary website, so we aren’t able to distinguish what donations were made as a result of the jazz walk digital marketing efforts. We can, however, verify 300+ pounds of food donations were collected at the various venues.
GM: How did the vast historical significance of the Central District and its musical legacies factor into the conceptualization of the Jackson Street Jazz Walk?
EJ: The legacy of these local artists and their worldwide contribution to the world of jazz is what the jazz walk is calling attention to and honoring. Our goal is to recognize that legacy and to continue it through the work of today’s artists.
GM: How did this event receive financial support?
EJ: Private and public grants and donations.
GM: We’re there any drawbacks to partnering with Vulcan Inc?
EJ: Vulcan was supportive throughout this year’s walk as well as in prior jazz walks. They possess a demonstrated concern to support events such as this which engage residents and benefit our community. Because of Vulcan and supporters like them, the Jazz Walk was able to hire 13 musical artists, drive customers to know and support the local businesses that acted as venues, and also made it possible for more than 300 pounds of food to be raised to fight hunger in Seattle.
GM: How do you feel the community received this event?
EJ: Turnout was exceptional and post-jazz walk audience surveys were glowing with appreciation for this event.
Featured Photo: People listen to Alex Dugdale, left, of the Alex Dugdale FADE Quartet, play at Wonder Ethiopian Restaurant, during the Jackson Street Jazz Walk on Sept. 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)