from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Random #53: Golmok Jazz Festa

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I’m usually not one for promoting anyone but myself but if you live in Seoul and appreciate jazz, check out the Golmok (Alleyway) Jazz Festa this weekend in Nakseongdae. The event is being held on Friday and Saturday between the two jazz bars in Nakseongdae, Jazz Alley and Mo’ Better Blues, with street performances earlier in the day in the alley between the two bars. You can purchase tickets online at Interpark or in person at either bar.

Both bars are owned by Mr. Park, the kind of interesting character you can only meet in the small back-alleys of the neglected areas of Seoul. You can usually find him drifting back and forth between the two bars, his scraggly, shoulder-length hair flowing from beneath a leather flat cap that’s seen some wear, like an old baseball mitt. A cigarette is always hanging from his lips, a cup of makgeolli usually not far away, either.

He’s a dreamer, his dream being to introduce to as much of the Korean public to the music he loves. Unfortunately, most of the Korean public doesn’t give a shit. I rarely see any other customers at the bar when I go, which is one of the reasons I like drinking here. While I’m working on my beer, I often wonder how he stays afloat. I’m sure he’s paid plenty out of his own pocket to pay for the steady stream of jazz performers that flow in and out of here. I know that he’s paid a lot out of his pocket for this weekend’s jazz festival. It’s a gamble that I’m afraid won’t work out.

“If we can’t pack these places, I’ll have to close down Jazz Alley,” he jokes, laughing raucously.

I manage a chuckle but I know that there’s truth behind his words. The probability is that he will have to shut down Jazz Alley, the newer of the two bars, opened around three years ago. Mo’ Better Blues has been around 13 years and I’m sure he’ll keep it open as long as there is breath in his lungs.

So there it is. The sad back-story behind the event and my ulterior motive for promoting the event. Jazz Alley has been one of my homes for the last three years and I’d hate to have to find a new bar. I guess I can’t help but be partially self-serving. (I don’t know how much of a difference this post will make; most of my readers are overseas, not that there are very many to begin with.)

Of the acts I’ve seen, Los Amigos does a good show, if you’re into Latin jazz. My friend Tae says that Charlie Jeong and Kuma Park are pretty good. It’s a strong line-up.


Written by Young

October 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm

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