The Syracuse Jazz Fest returned to downtown Syracuse a week ago, and so did my dear wife Karen and I.
We pulled out our bag chairs and headed to Clinton Square on a sunny, hot Saturday afternoon in late June for some music and relaxation.
Fest founder and producer Frank Malfitano was back in fine stride after five years of quiet for the fest.
The fest has been free since early 1990 years in this square and then a long run on the campus of Onondaga Community College. Securing enough private and public sector funding to bring in both international level and top local acts is one spectacular feat.
For two decades I wrote about that amazing string of jazz for the big daily.
This day I sat with my wife and appreciated Joey DeFrancesco and The Urban Knights.
We drank a couple of beers and shared hot dogs and a big bowl of mac and cheese from the concession stands.
My longtime great friend Dave Kaspar, who’s been booking Jazz in the Burbs at the Green Gate Inn in Camillus in the years since I’ve departed the big daily, stopped by to shoot the bull.
We were sitting up a foot or two on one of Clinton Square’s ledges, so I couldn’t help but notice some crowd behavior on the hot pavement right below us.
I man in a rolling chair was ushered by his canine, who wore a vest with the phrase Working Dog. Not Service Dog, we noted.
Two fellows seated to the left offered three bottles of water, which the man gladly accepted. He opened one, took a traveling cup from his pack, poured the cool water, and set it down for his grateful dog. Drink. Drink. Drink. He opened another and poured over the dog’s jet black fur. The dog strode one step to the right, smiled, and shook, sending a spray over all within several feet. Cool. The dog settled on the ground to the left of the man’s chair. The main placed the final bottle on the ground to the dog’s left. The dog stirred. Thought. Picked up that final bottle in its mouth, stood, and placed it on the man’s lap and nudged, until the man opened the bottle and drank it down himself.
All the while I wished I had raised my iPhone camera and pushed the video button.
Different guy in a rolling chair, different result.
This man stops to talk to three women sitting in a line. One reached into her bag, and hands him an apple and a bottle of water. The man turns to his immediate left and dumps both into a tall garbage bucket and rolls away. The three women look at each other but say nothing.