JazzFest 48

Author: Drew Page 1 of 2

Drew Roberson
Senior at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO
Major: English (literary and media criticism, writing)
Minor: Linguistics (semantics and pragmatics, sociolinguistics)

Final Reflection

Though I took this class for the experience, not the credit, I put a great deal of time an effort into my site. Coming into this class, I had no knowledge of blogs, HTML/CSS, or anything that fell under the “digital” part of “digital humanities.” In fact, I only really knew how to think critically and write (mainly essays). Not long after I was thrown into the deep end of Word Press, I learned a great deal about how to present my research in new and exciting ways in the digital age.

Ultimately, I am very pleased with how my site turned out. I think those who visit my site will find it engaging and informative, but not overwhelming. I stayed close to my plan in my contract and, with the help of my classmates and professors, managed to create the site I had envisioned four months ago (special thanks to Miranda, who helped me utilize the read-more/accordion feature to make it easier to navigate my site). My site is carefully organized such that it takes readers along by each major event. On these pages, I include a general overview of the event then provide a critical analysis of JazzFest 48.

The biggest challenge this semester was figuring out how to obtain permission to use and properly cite various forms of media on my site. Honestly, that was one of the most important things I learned, if not THE most important thing (learning how to create a website/blog is a close second). Likewise, the IRB process was also a very confusing process, especially for me because apparently Truman State University does not require IRB approval for ethnographic research projects.


4/19/16 Update and Questions

I’m diving into creating my project website and so far it’s going very well. To my surprise, I am struggling with a few minor stylistic things that have come up as a result of working in a digital medium. In a traditional essay, if I were to quote an interview (or author), I might say, “As jazz director, Professor Tim AuBuchon, explains…” once then say, “As AuBuchon notes,” every time after. However, I’m wondering if I should do this on every page I make since readers will surly be bouncing around and not reading this in a linear style. Normally, I would say this is repetitive and poor writing (I already said he was the jazz director, no need to say it again and again), but it seems kind of necessary given the medium we’re working with. Any thoughts?


The past couple weeks have been a little crazy with NCUR and being sick, but I’ve made a lot of progress.

I went back to the special collections/archives and found a few more JazzFest related things. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much that will be very useful in my project. I have been going through the Echo articles and pulling out a lot of great information, perspectives, and images that I’m really excited to be able to incorporate.

I also got ahold of the current and previous PMA historians and got permission to use promotional videos and pictures from JazzFest 45, 46, and 48. I’ve also been trying to edit short excerpts from the audio recording of JazzFest 33 (2001).

Over the next week and a half, my plan is to really dive into this project and get a solid draft of my project site running. As I’ve mentioned, things have been extraordinarily hectic lately, so this may be less polished than I had hoped, but after this week, I’ll have a little more time to devote to completing and revising the site to something I can be proud of.


I’m still going through my interviews and I’m starting to construct a sort of essay. Once I have all of the information written down in an organized fashion, I’ll deconstruct it and start building my actual project site (which should go pretty fast as long as I stay on top of everything and stick to my plan).

After I figure out what pictures, songs, video clips, and everything I plan to use, I need to go back and talk to the special collection librarians/archivists about proper citation and everything. I also need to contact the owner of Dukum to make sure I have permission to publish photos taken at the Judge’s Jam and to make sure I can use the name “Dukum Inn” in my analysis.

I’ve been extraordinarily busy preparing for NCUR next Wednesday-Saturday so I haven’t had time to do much else (I’m also trying to get ahead in other coursework so I’m not behind because of the conference).


What a week! After my meeting with the digital and special collections librarians/archivists, a multitude of questions flooded in regarding fair use and obtaining permission or consent to use various forms of media. With the help of Dr. Kroll and Dr. Snow (as well as a few people here at TSU), I now have a much better idea of the protocol for using and cite photos, videos, music, etc. in a legal and ethical way. (Thanks again, by the way!)

One of the best moments of this past week was when the digital collections librarian informed me that every edition of the Echo (TSU’s yearbook) had been digitized. This has allowed me to do a mass search through nearly 50 years worth of material for relevant articles and blurbs on JazzFest written by and for Truman students and faculty–and boy, oh, boy did I find some… moderately-very interesting/helpful stuff. For instance, some some years have relatively detailed information about that year’s festival and really capture the attitudes and feelings of both the performers and organizers (PMA members) and the audience. Others, however, only provide quick facts  (e.g., “JazzFest X was held on [Date] and featured [guest artist]”). What’s more, the librarians/archivists I spoke with also told me that as long as I properly cite the Echo, I should be able to use the photos published alongside those articles and blurbs without having to contact the photographer or anything because, from what I understand, it is the property of TSU. I’ll have to double check this, but I believe I’ll be able to crop the photos or just use the entire page, depending on my needs, which is incredible news.

I also got in touch with the current PMA historian, but, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to help me as much as I had hoped. He did, however, direct me to a few places where I could find photos and videos of past events and gave me the contact information of, who he believes to be, the original photographers and videographers.

Finally, I’m still slogging through the process of transcribing my interviews… there’s a lot… I’m taking pretty detailed notes as I go along and highlighting any quotes that I think I may just use directly. Because my festival hasn’t been documented as thoroughly as more traditional local or regional festivals might be, I’m having to rely mostly on the oral history I’m compiling and the bits and pieces I’m gathering from things like the Echo.

(One more thing. After class on Tuesday, I tried adding another page in the menu bar on THIS blog and still couldn’t. But when I logged in to my official project site and tried again, it worked fine. I’m still not sure why I can’t do that on here, but I guess I’m not as technologically inept as I thought. Having said that, any advice on how to maximize the effectiveness and functionality of my final project site is always welcome!)

Update 3/15/16

I got in touch with Aaron Speight  (Truman’s digital collections librarian) and Amanda Langendoerfer (Truman’s Head of Special Collections and Archives) and will be meeting with them tomorrow afternoon. I also contacted Adam Boyles (the current PMA historian) about getting together to show me any documents that may be helpful (I mentioned possibly doing an interview as well, but stressed that I’m more focused on the archival research right now).

I have revised my project contract, but I’m still not sure about one thing: obviously, I plan to post photos (and maybe videos and music) on my site, but didn’t know if it would be best to have one paged dedicated to a photo gallery (or multimedia in general) or to have smaller photo galleries on the pages where I discuss specific events of the festival (e.g., the Judge’s Jam, the clinics, the main performance, etc.). I was also thinking about using photos in or alongside the text, so to speak, to literally illustrate what I’m talking about (e.g., “The Judge’s Jam is held at the Dukum Inn (see Figure 1)…” where Fig. 1 is a photo of Dukum), but didn’t know if this rendered the photo gallery(ies) superfluous.

Finally, I have started a very rough draft of my introduction and parts of my analysis. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me so I’m trying my best to stay on top of things… here goes!

Update 3/8/16

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but I have some big (and past-due) updates!

So far, I have completed three interviews (the PMA president, the PMA Festival Officer, and one of the professors in charge of JazzFest) all of which left me with a substantial body of information to sift through. I’m currently in the slow-but-steady process of reviewing and transcribing these interviews.

JazzFest 48 is also over and seemed to be a great success. As usual I had a lot of fun attending the performances, but I also had the pleasure to sit in on the rehearsals and clinics, which gave me an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the festival from the music students’ perspective.

There’s a lot of work to be done in the weeks ahead, including follow-up interviews and archival research. I have set tentative deadlines that I really hope to stick to. With the stress of midterms behind me, I plan to front load the work for this class in hopes that I will have more time later in the semester to devote to actually creating and polishing my website.

Still, I am very excited to really start digging deeper and analyzing this festival. From my observations of the festival itself, I already feel like I have a better understanding of the JazzFest from the perspective of both the audience and the performers/participants/organizers.

Festivals Contract

Festivals Contract on Google Docs


The key objective of this project is to research and analyze the Phi Mu Alpha Jazz Festival (JazzFest) (its patterns, rituals, participant behavior, values, status hierarchy among individuals, gestures, body language, clothing, vernacular speech, etc.) using ethnographic and anthropological methods in order to understand the festival’s cultural and historical significance. I plan to conduct oral interviews and archival research, as well as document and analyze my experiences at the event from an ethnographic perspective. Along the way, I will build a WordPress website/blog to publicly exhibit my results.


        As of right now, my WordPress site uses a simple theme called “Lovecraft.” I only have a home page right now, but I plan to add a few more pages on the final project. Ideally, I would like my homepage to feature my mission statement and a very brief overview of the festival. I also plan to have a pages dedicated to the history of the festival (including a timeline), JazzFest 48, a photo gallery (including pictures of performances, tickets, posters, etc.), and videos and audio recordings from previous festivals. I have not decided if it would be best to have a single page where I publish my overall analysis of the festival or if I should do this in each individual page, but I am leaning toward the latter.

        In addition to WordPress, I intend to use YouTube (for videos of performances), Timeline JS3 to document the history of JazzFest (e.g. performance dates, quick info on guest performers, etc.), and (possibly) Google Maps mainly to show Kirksville in relation to some of the visiting high schools and middle schools from around the Midwest region.


Since JazzFest 48 will took place in the middle of the semester, I was fortunate to be able to attend both public concerts (the “Judge’s Jam” at the Dukum Inn on February 26 and the main performance on campus the following night). In addition, I had permission to sit in on the somewhat exclusive rehearsals, clinics, and competitions that are offered to the music students on campus (especially those in jazz combos and big bands) and the visiting high school and middle school groups from around the Midwest. Thus, I have already completed some significant goals:

Feb. 20: First interviews with Zach Green (JazzFest Officer)

Feb. 22: First interviews with Prof. Tim AuBuchon (“Mr. A”) (PMA Faculty Advisor and Jazz Band Director)

Feb. 24: First interviews with Ryan Staines (PMA President)

Feb. 26: Attend JazzFest Day 1
                  Rehearsals 1:30-4:30
                  Clinic 5:00-6:00
                  Judge’s Jam 9:00-midnight

Feb. 27: Attend JazzFest Day 2
                 Rehearsals, Judged Performances, Clinics 8:00a.-6:00p.
                 Featured Concert 8:00

From here, my tentative plan is to complete the following no later than the indicated dates:

March 11: Clean up ethnographic notes/observations
                     Begin analysis

March 19: Meet with Aaron Speight (Truman Digital Collections Librarian) about audio/video recordings from JazzFest and archived newspaper/magazine articles.

Meet with Amanda Lanangendoerfer (Special Collections and Archives Librarian) about other archival records/documents (e.g., programs, posters, etc.).

March 25: Interview Adam Boyles (Current PMA Historian) and to see programs, tickets, t-shirts, etc.

Conduct follow-up interviews with Zach Green, Mr. AuBuchon, and Ryan Staines, reflections on JazzFest 48.

April 2: Review archived Echo books (Truman State University’s ‘year book’) for pieces on JazzFest over the years.

April 6: Rough draft of project

April 21: Polished, edited project

May 5: Final Project

May 10: Reflection Blog/Paper

May 12: Public Presentation and Peer review

First Interview (2/20/16)

I just finished my first oral interview with Zach Green, one of the students/PMA members in charge of organizing JazzFest. I’ve been thinking a lot about the articles we’ve read on how to conduct oral interviews and the idea of a “collaborative interview,” so I stuck as close as I could to my questions, but occasionally deviated from my questions when he said something that anticipated a later question or served as a segue to a later question (i.e. I jumped around a little). What’s more, I found myself asking additional questions on the spot to either clarify a response or get more information. I’m not sure how this would work with other projects that require interview questions to be approved by the IRB (multiple follow-up interviews?), but I was glad I had some degree of freedom to go “off book,” so to speak, because this led to more detailed responses and allowed me to explore things that I didn’t know to ask about before this interview.

Though the interview was a lot of fun… I can’t say I’m looking forward to transcribing. But as they say, “them’s the breaks.”


This semester I will be researching the Phi Mu Alpha Jazz Festival (JazzFest). JazzFest is an annual event that began in 1968 when the Upsilon Phi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha, a national music fraternity, was founded at Truman State University (then known as the North Missouri Normal School). February 27, 2016 marks the 48th annual JazzFest.

The key objective of this project is to research and analyze the JazzFest’s patterns, rituals, participant behavior, values, status hierarchy among individuals, gestures, body language, clothing, vernacular speech, etc., using ethnographic and anthropological methods in order to understand the festival’s cultural and historical significance. Over the next three months, I will be conducting oral interviews and archival research, and experiencing the event for myself from an ethnographic perspective. I will then synthesize this information to create a public website, to be published in May.

Since JazzFest 48 will take place in the middle of the semester, I am fortunate to be able to attend both the public concerts (an informal show at the Dukum Inn on February 26 and the formal performance on campus the following night). In addition, I will sit in on the somewhat exclusive rehearsals, clinics, and competitions that are offered to the music students on campus (especially those in jazz combos and big bands) and the visiting high school and middle school groups from around the Midwest.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén