This afternoon I volunteered for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival as a bus stop manager. It was interesting and I rode a free bus shuttling patrons between music venues. At the venues I went in to let them know the bus was there, what others stops we were making, and answer questions about the bus routes.
Performances on Saturday were spread over 2 1/2 square miles on 16 stages in 13 locations, and these buses helped folks get back and forth. On Sunday, all the performers will be on the Wagner stage at the Midway so there won’t be any buses.
Our route was the Blue loop which was the longer run from 59th to 47th and Cottage Grove to Stony Island, but only had six stops including the the Midway. My bus driver was Clyde Harrison and during the week he drives for the Chicago Public Schools. Clyde was professional and courteous with our passengers. We had scores of grateful passengers along with beautiful weather.
After my shift was done, Clyde dropped me at a CTA bus stop on 47th and I went home. About 6 PM I received a call from my friend Coleman Baar who also volunteered at the Festival, and wanted to hang out so I took a CTA bus back to a shuttle stop and rode to the Midway with Clyde.
Paul Wertico Quintet was on the Wagner stage where I found Coleman. Afterwards, we walked over to the volunteer booth where they asked if we could help more. I promptly said no, but Coleman said yes and was put to work helping musicians load their gear and get the Orbert Davis Quintet on stage.
While Coleman was busy, I walked through the Midway, but most of the stands were closed, and after walking from one end to the other decided to help him. At that point all we had to do was stand there guarding the instruments and watch the band.
It was cool being back stage and I met Orbert Davis before he went on. Later, I challenged Paul Wertico asking him if he belonged backstage and he replied “I just played the set before this!”
One of the volunteers I met backstage was Ron James from Ohio who, along with his wife, has volunteered at every Hyde Park Jazz Festival. The amazing part, aside from the 298 miles they drove to get here, is that Ron is 74 years young.
It was a long day, but I enjoyed meeting some interesting people, performers and other celebrities like Richard Steele from WBEZ. I want to thank my friend Coleman for stepping up, and Clyde for taking good care of me.
This was number forty-one and only 9 left to go.