But, he adds, the Schmooze Gals and Guys are his guardian angels and take care of him -- "especially at other events we all attend." These are guardian angels everyone should have! They also add fun and color to Pospychala's bus tours around Chicagoland, tours that usually go under the handle "Tavern, Peculiar Eatery and Half-assed Architectural Tours." For more information on that, contact email@example.com.
I must say that of all the Jazz Warriors features I have written so far, Pospychala is the most colorful interviewee I've contacted. I usually ask those I interview if there have been any catastrophes during their tenures, and so far everyone has been very businesslike or downright silent about that subject. But in Pospychala's inimitable down-to-earth way, he answered me, telling me about "a disaster" that happened in recent years when he hired a big band, then had to fire them for not keeping their word. They had taken the job, then reneged on the price close to the date of performance. But, God bless Pospychala, he didn't let them get the best of him though he continues to take some flack for it.
He mentioned another glitch, too. Pospychala used the former Good Time Jazz Club volunteers to usher for the first Tribute to Bix in 1990, but, being new at the game, he had not planned for all the reservations, and the crowd overwhelmed the help. The line snaked outside and into the parking lot, and more than 300 people tried to shimmy into a facility that holds 250.
The Tribute to Bix fest encourages young people to attend and gives them free admission, but not many take advantage of it. "God forbid one of the college bands would recreate King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band or Jean Goldkette's Orchestra. These school festivals don't even play anything prior to WWII," Pospychala says with frustration.
"My Tribute to Bix fest is the only regular event here during any year. It's usually held on the weekend nearest Bix's birthday of March 10th. This year the Marriott asked if we'd take the March 13-16 weekend, and it was OKeh with me".
Pospychala was born in Wausau, Wisc., and moved to Chicago when he was eight years old. He later moved to Libertyville, Ill., and still lives there. He runs his festival from home, and, like many jazz club volunteers, puts a lot of miles on his car. When asked when he got the idea of having a tribute to his favorite cornet player, he said he started the festival in 1990. He had been going to the St. Louis Ragtime Festival during the 1980s, and one day, driving back to Libertyville from St. Louis, he began thinking about how he would produce one of these events. He started writing down ideas while driving, at times using the steering wheel to rest the note pad on. The rest is history, and it's a colorful history as Pospychala tells it.
Wouldn't it be great to see future generations create jazz fests to salute the golden years of our country's music history? Pospychala makes it sound as if it can be done just like that.
The website for the Tribute to Bix is located at www.geocities.com/bixfest. It describes what the Bix Tribute is all about, and this year's band list is included on it, as well as information on accommodations. Check out the website -- it's as much fun to browse through it as it is to talk to Pospychala.
In closing, I would like to express my gratitude to Leslie Johnson, Mississippi Rag editor, who continues to make so many people happy. Leslie is the epitome of Jazz Warriors. I ask her not to edit this statement out, because I am so proud to be one of the contributors to the incomparable Mississippi Rag. -- Judi K