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Old 08-19-02, 04:38 PM   #1
Mr.Taxi Trix
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Post Windsor 2002

Having heard the many stories of Windsor, from sources as diverse as Al and Cee, Ed Stander, and Nick and Martin, I was curious. Add to it that the Silly's were on, Lynne was managing it, and Eddie was going, and I was sold. News kept coming in good... Jim was working it, Reid, and Flybob, and Robert whispered he might make a cameo. Here's the cast in no order...

Ed Stander
Silly People
Flying Bob
Reid Belstock *** People's Choice***
Jim Show
Marie Claude
Silver Elvis
Jeff Collins
Taxi Trix

This was my first time meeting Ken and Patty, and I'm smitten. "More than a producer", as Ewen puts it, is appropriate. You can feel the love and good vibes from these two straight away, and you know you've come to the right place. Lynne was in good form, and packing her trademark mischief smiles. Greeding into the performers treat bag, I saw, along with 75 bucks in meal tickets, attention to detail in the scheduling. I always look for "where am I being screwed" on the pitch. I couldn't find it. We were sprinkled around evenly, as far as I could see, and this continued.
When a performer got in an extra show, their name went on the board with a plus one sign. Rained out? You were listed as down one show. People down one were bumped up in the rotation, and got evened up with the troupe. I've seen this deal before, but I like that it was written down. I did a show in the rain, and Ken asked how the hat was, not for idle conversation, but to make sure I wasn't down one. I saw Ken at the gate directing incoming people to shows with smaller crowds. Micro managing? Well, he's definitely shooting for across-the-board enjoyment by the performers.
PS They don't whore out your show to supermarkets, bowling alleys and funeral homes. HUGE Bonus, Windsor. Tricksters are treated well.

Not the teeming hoardes one would hope for, but we did glean some wild free-for-all capacity crowding for a spell, and I've spent a long morning here at Phil's counting the money. I heard from Ed that they were pulling back on their adverstising in Detroit this year (Martin's influence?) and it did seem to decrease quantity, increasing quality. Times we were reduced to one show on the pitch were made up for by fat hats when you did get your show.

No real grandstanders in the cast. One act went long a couple of times, but I won't mention Jeff's name. This was an "Oh no, after YOU" kind of festival. I usually try to silently win "Least Likely to be a Diva" in my own head, but I had to give it to Reid, for cancelling so Flybob could go up. Just a great bunch of people choosing to work together. Good times. And who should show up just in time to give me shit about my sloppy ways (the cigar made up for it) but our own Robert. Kumi had a layover in Detroit, and Ken had not ordered all access Nelson passes in vain. We couldn't talk him into the final show, but he did deign to drink with us. And drink with us.

Final show was good. I played the patsy and DIED as the unknown comic so Marie Claude could hook me (a pleasure to key that phrase) and found myself loving illiciting boos from Canadians. Rare treat from these polite entities. Suprise highpoint in the show from Stitch, who did the old velcro cigar boxes with a very cool twist. His technical prowess led into the velcro, so that it really looked like he was doing the impossible. Nice work, Daniel. After that, it was fire everywhere, and time to get packed.

Three stars.
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Old 08-29-02, 10:30 AM   #2
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Thanks again for a perceptive review, Taxi.

Ken and Patti are great. They were like Mom and Dad on the site, trying to make sure everyone played well together and had healthy crowds. Lynne was keeping everyone in line with a stopwatch and a clipboard. Having the three of them around made everything run like clockwork.

I, too, liked the white board in the green room with a tally of everyone's shows. It made everything fair and kept whining to a minimum (I don't remember any whining, actually.)

It was a super cast of very polite performers. Even though there were some "high" acts, everything stayed at a human scale and no one was blowing anyone out of the water. Egos were checked at the door.

The only dissapointing thing was the relatively small crowds. Saturday was slow all day and then thousands of people crammed in at about 8pm... things rocked... and then it was over at 11. I had my best shows on Thursday and Friday (even though it rained.) By Saturday it seemed like the crowds had seen everything and were starting to come around a second time. Two of my shows on Saturday and my one Sunday show had really impatient crowds ("do chainsaws...") and smallish hats. I also noticed people literally running from pitch to pitch immediately after the finales. Lots of peels and non-payers.

And the f-ing chairs. No other festival provides chairs. They get in the way. They act as a barrier. They invite people to be lazy and non-participatory. Sweet Jesus... get rid of the f-ing chairs.

Despite all that, I had fun in Windsor. Ken and Patti are wonderful, Lynne was great and the cast they chose was great to be a part of. And the stocked greenroom on the pitch was really really nice. (That, combined with cupons at Ryans meant I only spent a few bucks a day on food, if that.)

And my Sprint cell phone worked down near the river, thanks to Detroit.

This festival gets better every year since Ken got involved.


P.S. And it was great to see Robert in a surprise guest appearance.
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Old 08-29-02, 09:28 PM   #3
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Bwah hah hah - Jim, you made me laugh out loud with your comments on the chairs. You've no idea how many times Ken's had to put up listening to me rant about the freakin' chairs! After seeing Windsor first as a visitor, I couldn't believe me eyes with all the rows and rows of chairs at each pitch. I give him loads of credit for listening, by drastically reducing the number of chairs put out this year over last, but ...

I have to admit <chagrin> that after experiencing the full festival, I'm kinda brought over to the dark side. I do see the point, on *that* site, of having some chairs. Unlike most of the street fests, Windsor is on a destination site where there are no curbs, pubs, restaurants, etc close to hand for the punters to take a wee break off their feet. That, and the fact that it can get evilly hot from the combined wind/sun on dark, dark asphalt. From where I watched, the folks who sat tended to be more focussed on the show.

It changes the dynamic of how one relates to the audience, granted. Just as when we introduced bleachers on the main pitch in Waterloo a few years back, and realized that performers had to actively hat the bleacher seaters, as they would not give up their comfy spot to come to the hat. Same goes for the chairs, they're seated, they're happy, and they know another show will be along shortly. You have to go to the mountain.

Granted, too, that it's a bit of a pain to arrange 75 chairs in the manner *you* like them, each time you go out to a pitch where the performer before you liked them somewhere else.

I'm curious to hear some other opinions - how's about a mini-poll on the "to chair, or not to chair" issue??
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Old 08-30-02, 01:09 AM   #4
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I think that all who attended agree that Windsor ROCKED! And my only recommendation to others wanting to work this fest in the future is...make sure Reid Belstock is there so he can take you to the casino and teach you how to play craps!

...and about the "chairs"...

If the weather is stinkin' hot and noone would sit on the ashfault at risk of being burnt..the chairs are a decent idea. However, we found that they were more a pain in the arse than anything else!
(how is that Lynne?)

[ 08-30-2002: Message edited by: Mr Silly ]</p>
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Old 08-31-02, 11:36 PM   #5
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Let me say this about that, and that would be this...

The chairs do have a certain je ne sit pas to them. I think a chairman should be appointed straight away, but not fee-based: I would want them to do it for chairity. Mabe a famous pop star.
How about Cher? Its not important if they exist so much as how evenly they are dispersed. Chair and chair alike, says I.

If I had my way, and I never do, the event would take place 200 yards parkward, where it used to be, and we could shimmer everyone down into the grass straight away. The parking lot is an ambiance that one can only find in a parking lot, yes, but the nearby park offers random punter strolling traffic and sweet trees and grass. As the fest is now in the lot and doubtless red-taped there for life, (the name "Riverfront Festival Plaza" has the doomed air of civic imagination to it.) I have to say that the chairs help us, and to state anything else, Jim, is simply unchairatable.

Chairs, Karl.
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Old 09-06-02, 10:42 PM   #6
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see 'Waterloo'
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