The best way to sell a product is to give it away.
At least, those are the sentiments of the West Virginia Jazz Society as it pursues its mission to identify and develop the market for live jazz music in West Virginia.
The WVJS hosts free public performances and educational workshops along with every event or concert it produces. The group also points out that the presenters and artists at the free events are the same artists for which people sometimes pay $60 a seat for a nightclub-style dinner show.
"It's about building the audience," said Bob Workman, WVJS treasurer. "By providing the general public and students the opportunity to hear jazz live, in its purest form, we create demand for the ticketed events that keep the musicians employed."
During Winter Jazz Weekend 2012, there are two free, noontime "brown bag" concerts in Weston and Clarksburg on Jan. 27, each following a free music workshop for middle school students. Also, at 1 p.m. Jan. 28, there is a free student jazz showcase concert in Bridgeport. All the free events are open to the public and held in handicapped-accessible facilities.
Ticketed events ($35 to $55 per person) featuring music and dinner are set for the Benedum Civic Center in Bridgeport at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 and 28 in the Bridgeport Conference Center.
Workman is quick to credit the many sponsors who have contributed to WVJS community offerings and who continue to contribute throughout the year.
"A quick list would include the Harrison and Lewis county commissions, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, the city of Clarksburg, the Clarksburg Harrison Cultural Foundation, the Greater Bridgeport CVB, plus merchants, individuals and corporations too numerous to mention here," Workman said. "But without a doubt, we have to credit what I'd call a 'founding partner' in Charles Pointe Hospitality Inc."
Workman said CPH Inc., operator of the Bridgeport Conference Center and developers of Jazz at Charles Pointe, makes WVJS events like Winter Jazz Weekend 2012 "affordable" by discounting some costs while upgrading other services.
"It all adds up to a community-supported effort we hope brings value to as many people as possible," Workman said. "Our sponsors don't take anything for granted and work with us constantly to improve what we do."
In 2012, the WVJS looks forward to the upcoming Winter Jazz Weekend, as well as a return appearance to central West Virginia in April by Steinway jazz pianist, Lenore Raphael from New York City, and a second edition of a multi-day Great Ladies! Music Festival, planned for late August.
More information is available by emailing WVJazzSociety@aol.com or calling 304-808-3000.