Fascinated by the negotiation of public space.

Great article on the 1 problem – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-van-zandt/democracy-in-america_b_1139463.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

Also I’m somewhat happy to see the tent-cities go – this can’t become just about the ability to occupy public space – it has to be more than a debate about land-use.

Devotion of resources – $1M+ in police overtime and $40-60k of park “damage” – this is investment the city made – why can’t we occupy hot spots in dorchester and force the cops to hang out there and effectuate their strategy of “trust building“?

First Mali Pix

I’ve got the first bunch of photos from our trip to Mali during the summer of 2011 up on flickr.

More to come… sorting through 1800 photos, and picking the best ones.

Here is one of my absolute favorites. A portrait of a friend of Sharon & Alex’s (and now ours), Issiaka Kane, aka Siakaba:


The Costs (and Economic Benefits) of Throwing Parties/Concerts/Festivals

I just read a fascinating quick take on finances of a festival written by Patrick Jarenwattananon over on great NPR blog ‘A Blog Supreme’ (full text of the article below the fold). This is especially interesting to me as we evaluate the financial aspects of throwing our JUMP! parties. We’re currently losing money on each party, but are self-financing the party. Obviously, sponsorship would be a great way to bring in some money and break even (even just 30% of our costs as in the article).

For the economic benefit piece – we’re employing around 8-10 people at the venue for one night, as well as a band, our DJ/VJ/percussion crew, and giving some serious business to a local restaurant. So our parties drive money to somewhere between 10-25 people. Pretty nice for a one-night show. But the losses add up, so even though the losses mean some tax write-offs, they certainly aren’t sustainable.

Anyway, I’m fascinated by the numbers on these things and finding balance. I’m of course trying to figure out how to maximize profit (to keep the parties going), maximize artist payments (something I hold near & dear to my heart), and minimize my own financial risk (or loss), keep prices as low as possible (to keep parties accessible to the most number of people), and maximize the cultural experience and the fun factor.

The full article:

Published: December 22, 2010

by Patrick Jarenwattananon

Ever wondered how much money actually gets thrown around at a major jazz festival? The French festival Jazz in Marciac recently divulged some financial data from its 2010 edition, and Frédéric Noiret of the newspaper La Dépêche du Midi recently reported on it. If my Google Translate + cognate recognition are correct, here are some highlights:

Jazz in Marciac generated over 7 million Euros’ worth of economic benefit for the Marciac region.

The festival’s overall budget is 3,455,000 Euro. Public financing makes up 421,000 Euro, while private sponsorship provides 354,000 Euro. Thus, the festival is 72.1 percent self-financed, accounting for additional revenue.

225,000 people came for the festival (up 2.3 percent), and 66,500 tickets (up 8.46 percent) for paid shows were sold.

The festival depended on its 800 volunteers. They would have cost 950,000 Euro to employ at minimum wage alone. However, the festival did host 400 of those volunteers on site for a total of 6,000 person-nights.

17,500 meals were served in all, including musicians, technical crew, staff and volunteers. The volunteers accounted for 11,190 meals alone.

Currently, one Euro is worth around 1.31 U.S. dollars, which is about the exchange rate at the time of the festival this past summer.

I’ve never studied the accounting sheets in depth for other festivals, but one element looks to me to be rather extraordinary. For a festival of such magnitude to generate 72.1% of its revenue by itself — largely in ticket sales, one imagines, though “l’autofinancement” isn’t exactly defined — is a serious achievement. Even Jazz in Marciac says that 2010 was a banner year (an “année record”) for them.

But it isn’t shocking that these sorts of things bring in so much money for their communities. The arts seem to require a lot of money, especially when you bring in Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Jamie Cullum, Chucho Valdes, Ahmad Jamal and Esperanza Spalding, plus tons of other artists. (That was just in 2010.) But the arts can also be even more massive economic engines; in this case, the economic benefit to the area far outstrips taxpayer cost. Plus, how do you put a value on human creativity? [La Dépêche du Midi: Festival Jazz in Marciac tient la forme (French) / Jazz in Marciac festival takes shape (automated English translation)]

P.S. A nice English-language article profiles the Marciac festival, a gigantic production which takes over a tiny rural town for two weeks every year. [Copyright 2010 National Public Radio]

Grow JUMP! Together

Hello world . . .

This has been a huge day for me. First, and most important – my dear little sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy (William Milton). You can bet there will be pictures soon. 🙂 Check my flickr page for updates soon….

On this auspicious day, the stars also aligned to let us launch our Kickstarter campaign to build JUMP!

Let me break this down a little bit – JUMP! is the monthly party that I started in the spring of this year with Adam Gibbons. Adam is a DJ, producer, artist, visionary – and I am blessed to say – now is a dear friend. He and I had this crazy idea that we could combine his successful Uhuru Afrika monthly parties (which feature deep soulful afro-centric house music) with my passion for live music and together we could create some amazing dance parties. Well, over the past year, we’ve taken this idea from dream to reality – throwing 5 amazing parties at a fantastic space in Harvard Square called Oberon. This is where Kickstarter comes in.

Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. Basically it allows creators to reach out to fans, friends, family, and the whole wide world and gather a tremendous source of money and encouragement to further creative goals.

We are seeking to raise $3,000 through our current campaign (which ends December 17, 2010). You can read a little more about why we need to finance this party on our Kickstarter page. Additionally, I’ll tell you that we’ve been building this party off personal investments from Adam and myself. We need to expand our efforts a bit – do more and better promotion and press outreach, provide higher guarantees to bands (for a couple reasons I’ll dive into below), ensure we can cover other expenses for bands (hotels, backline (drums, amps, etc), food), and then start to do the other things we’re dreaming of to fully transform Oberon into our vision of a modern urban african club.

We think that with $3,000 we can do all these things, and get the party to a sustainable level pretty quickly. We’ve been pulling in between 150-200 people to each party thus far, and think that once we’re up in the 200-300 range coming through the door on a nightly basis, we’ll be in a really good and sustainable place.

If you can assist in any way in this effort, I will be humbly grateful. You can assist by spreading the word and pointing folks to our Kickstarter campaign (links below). You can assist by coming out to our next party (Thursday, December 16th featuring Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat). You can assist by contributing to the campaign, in any amount. Really. $1 is appreciated. $100 is appreciated. And $1,000 is appreciated.

Whatever you feel like contributing to our efforts to build the party. Besides some pretty awesome rewards, we promise to continue throwing the best dance parties you’ve ever been to in Boston (or anywhere else!).

If you have questions about this campaign, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to address them.

Now, enough reading – please help us spread the word and fund this party!

Links below.

With humility, love, respect, and thankfulness.



Boston MoGlo Music Calendar

I’m trying to find ways of better exposing this  calendar of musical happenings in and around Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville that I think are interesting. I like the term “Modern Global” to describe the music I’m interested in – thanks to Darek Mazzone @ KEXP for pushing this term. To me – it describes a music aware of a wider global context, contemporary, and if I have a choice – fun and danceable. 🙂 So, not all the great music happening around me makes this list, but I think the stuff on here is good – you’ll have a great time if you go to any of these shows – I guarantee. Note that I *do* include stuff I create/promote (Uhuru Afrika + JUMP! for example) on this list – so it is not un-biased.

Click this link to display the calendar.

If you want to share this with folks, please do. Use this short link for ease… http://goo.gl/wGBm

Erich Ludwig on Greater Somerville

Last Thursday, I went on Greater Somerville with the neighborhood activist and local media personality Joe Lynch and co-host KyAnn Anderson. It was a fun time, but you can judge for yourself below. Some links below the video (which should appear below, but if not you can go here to watch :: http://greatersomerville.wordpress.com/). Also, go to the Greater Somerville page and leave a comment. 🙂

Also – one correction – this year is the 50 year anniversary of Mali’s Independence (not 40 as I said on the air – oops, bad math!)!!

LINKS: (Basically, my references for everything I said during the 28 minutes….)

Local artists mentioned in piece:

Local folks who have built the path on the ground on which I walk with my musical work:

Uhuru Afrika’s JUMP! – my newest venture takes place at Oberon (http://www.cluboberon.com/) in Harvard Square, and has featured the following acts so far:

Stay tuned for future JUMP! parties, and much more. Thank YOU for all of your support.

Greater Somerville

Thanks to all those who watched me, Joe, and KyAnn on Greater Somerville last night. I’ll be putting up a proper post soon with links and references to the people, places, websites, etc that I mentioned on air.

Thanks again!