Hobbled as I am by residual injury—I wear an ankle brace and limp a bit—and wheeling a large cornet/flugelhorn case, I was grateful when a man much younger than I held open a door for me as I entered the lobby for Elkhart’s Lerner Theatre. I was there plenty early to play a concert set, and he was coming out as I was going in. He appeared in a hurry, certainly going someplace with purpose. I thought I really should be holding it for him, and told him so. No, he said, I was the important one.
Which group was I with? How was I enjoying the festival? Everything OK?
River Rogues from Grand Rapids.
I was enjoying it a whole lot.
Everything was more than OK. In fact, I told him treatment such as we were accorded could go to my head. If I let it.
Clean and quiet housing; breakfast, lunch, and dinner; doors opened for me while I was walking into a venue; prolific thanks for doing the thing I/we do; obliging technicians who helped us to do it the way we wanted; water, towels . . . oh, and pay, too.
And the guy holding the door for me? Ben Decker, a volunteer, one of the three primary organizers of the 2018 Elkhart Jazz Festival, a late-June, three-day jazz extravaganza. Decker is now in his fifth year, responsible for securing the acts. He and the rest of the 150 volunteers have done it...