Theres a new kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1686853993/the-jazz-man-documentary) thats recently been put up by a friend of ours here at Geek Apocalypse Abi Lewis called the Jazz Man that I wish to share my thoughts about and hope to convince you to have a look at. Mainly because its an amazing project, and one that I know 1000’s in our region are hoping gets made as its about jazz cafe owner and jazz loving, amazing guy Keith Crombie. He has influenced and helped so many people so I want to share what he did for me without even trying, because he was simply caring about human beings and was a wonderful human being himself. but ill get to that in a bit but first, the context..
I actually met Abi Lewis a few years ago where she first told me about this project. I was at yradio, busting my balls for no money, when her and her cameraman came to see me, and introduced herself. i found out that very day that she had been filiming this idea for a while and we agreed to help her by her filming some of our interviews and asking people we knew for help. I jumped at the chance and heres the reason why.
I had actually started going to the Jazz Cafe run by Keith on which the documentary is about, but I actually heard of him way before that through my siblings and then after that at university. To convey how much of an impact Keith had, People would tell stories of his immense passion towards jazz and promoting events ,by handing out flyers himself outside of universities in Newcastle nearly if not everyday. There was always stories of his generosity in regards to helping people less fortunate than himself, such as letting people into his club when it was cold when he wasn’t open and always giving people a place to be themselves. It always made me think ‘wow if only more people had that feeling of care towards other human being, we’d be ok as a race’.
I had never met Keith or been to the Jazz Cafe up to that point, but circumstances changed that when I started performing. I starting doing stand up when I was at university and was doing it regularly enough that I was practising other ways of performing. So I started learning how to do puppeteering, mainly due to the fact that clearly i would become irresistible to ladies after I learnt it, but also, weirdly it was something I always wanted to try. I started after learning enough to look for places to go and try it infront of a live audience. What shocked me was people didn’t really want me to do it, anywhere, ever, or they’d set fire to me, or hit me with sticks. Where are you going ladies? Stay with me! In all serious it was starting to annoy me, as I really felt it was different and I just needed a place where I could try an idea and see if it worked.
I then ended up at the jazz cafe somehow, I’m racking my brain trying to remember who told me about it, but the fact is I got sent something by someone saying, ‘try these guys they will help you out’. So I emailed Pink Lane poetry and performance and went with my table and my dragon puppet Straight the non magic dragon and was totally unsure of what I was getting into. One thing in the back of my mind though, was I knew I would be meeting Keith, someone who has intrigued me since the first time I had heard these stories while I was going to Northumbria University. As far as my memory goes I remember seeing him, but part of me felt alittle intimated, in a kind of, not worthy sense. I mean ,they guy not only was having a pretty fun poetry night run here, but he had a room that played live jazz music virtually every night, and I love Jazz Music so frigging much. I freely admit, I was alittle jealous.
I got upstairs to the performance room, and met the runners of pink lane Jess and Robbie, and instantly all my fears were gone. They were and still are the nicest and most genuine people I know, and instantly I realised that I had found a place for me, but then the night and venue opened my eyes after I had performed there that night. the crowd and other performers that went to these shows felt the same that I did, and i realised I had found a bunch of people that valued respect, decency, kindness and loved performing or simply watching people working at their craft. I’ve mentioned this in some blogs before, but I was going through an identity crisis during that time (no I generally like puppetry don’t judge) so this was a really important and significant find for me. I was not happy in my own skin for a variety of reasons, and felt alone when it came to how I tried treating people the right way, so not only finding people that felt the same but also gave me the opportunity to be myself, was a life saver to me.
To put the jazz cafe into perspective, I’ve never felt more like me as a performer than being there, and in alot of ways, the person I am now that does Geek Apocalypse podcast accepted who he was and grew by finding that place and be allowed to figure things out honestly and truthfully. if you fell down, doesn’t matter, try again, maybe you’ll get it right next time.But honestly, what it did for me is not the point, because theres thousands of others that could say the same thing and its all thanks to Keith. Robbie is a contributor to GA and a good friend of mine, jess and her now husband Bish have helped me alot and care for them dearly, and other performers I met while there I consider them a part of my life and care about them and see regularly to this day. I never would of met them without Keith.
I know through looking back, and I knew it at the time that Keith was the catalyst for that feeling we had at the venue. he allowed anyone that entered that memorising jazz Cafe building to know that we do not judge here, and if you have a story to tell, tell it, cos we all will be listening. He gave Robbie and Jess and other musicians, artist and performers a platform, and everyone knew the only thing that mattered to Keith was that everyone was ok. I did finally get a chance to speak him, at jess’ birthday and couple of other times, and loved hearing him speak, the stories he would tell, I loved his curiousity, his openess about things. Anyone that remembers walking into the jazz cafe, seeing all his pictures and piles of books and albums, he really was a curious and caring man who loved what he did, and loved helping people as much as he could figure out what they loved, without prejudice.
I sadly never got the chance to know him very well, Abi talks about him very gracefully on the podcast we did about him being around throughout her childhood, and I cant think of anyone better to do this documentary than her.but what I think sums up a persons greatness, is how much of an impact that someone has on people they don’t know, when the cameras or eyes aren’t watching. You’d struggle to find anyone that had a bad word to say about Keith. I owe him a lot even though, he didn’t try specifically for me, he was just being himself, he cared because that’s who he was and I’m so grateful for all that he has done for everyone that Benefited from his kindness and caring about other people. I mean this whole heartedly when I say, if i become one tenth of what keith was and still is, Id be a better person for it. If you didn’t know him, thats your loss, but I know this film will show you why he is still missed, and wont be forgotten.
Because you can change the venue, you can change the signs, but you can never replace Keith. I hope you decide to donate to this project, as we will be.
thanks for caring Keith, there needs to be more people like you.
you can donate to the jazz man documentary by going here http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1686853993/the-jazz-man-documentary, theres also a website Abi has set up http://www.thejazzmandoc.com/