Posts Tagged Triangle
In preparation for the upcoming Eastern Balboa Championships, Jason Sager and I will be teaching a pure Balboa class for The Lindy Lab! Classes will run for four Wednesdays, from October 3 through October 24, 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Triangle Dance Studio in the Guest House (the house to the left of the main building on Miami Boulevard). Here’s the info from the Lindy Lab website:
“One of the often overlooked dances of the swing world, Pure Balboa is the original close-position-only side of Balboa and Bal-Swing. This dance originally developed in crowded dance halls where owners forbid open position dancing in order to pack in more people and make more money. More than just step step, hold, step, there is a lot of room for improvisation in Pure Bal position. And the better your Pure Bal is, the better those times in between bal-swing toss-outs and lollies will feel. Jason Sager and Laura Windley will lead class in a way that builds on principles rather than moves and gives you plenty to play with at the Eastern Balboa Championships competitions in November in Raleigh.”
Pure Balboa isn’t just for comps, it’s so easy and fun to work into your regular dancing and gives you the fundamentals that make Balboa feel so comfortable, even at faster tempos. Bring your heels and/or your leather soles and we’ll work on all that great shuffle-y, tiny footwork.
Registration is available online at Schedulicity or you can show up at the class to register. See you in October!
I ran across a blog called LiveMusicNC.com and discovered a post called “10 Great Places to See Live Jazz (Plus One Great Show!).” I scanned the list, hoping for a scoop on where I might hear some stride piano, a dixieland group, or a swing band, and there was the same list of venues I check, week after week, that only book bebop, modern, or “straight ahead” jazz.
Clearly, we are not speaking the same language. Where is my jazz?
To say that I am disappointed with jazz in the Triangle is an understatement. This has been the norm, me being hopeful that someone will book one of the local, underrated jazz groups I love that play jazz from the 1920′s, 1930′s, and 1940′s, then being disappointed after reading local concert and venue listings. I have tried to get touring dixieland and swing bands gigs at some of these venues and at other venues that hire live music, but to no avail. I even promise an audience who will pay for the band in tips, and I still get no response.
There’s been a lot of lip service recently about jazz in the Triangle, but if the local venues are only offering a certain type of jazz or only booking certain musicians, is the scene really that vibrant?
What if there’s an entire subset of jazz lovers, new patrons, that you could draw to your venue if you added a few more bands to your lineup?
What if there’s an entire subset of talented jazz musicians you’ve never heard of because they rarely get a chance to play the music that really makes them shine?
MY POINT: We will not have a complete and vibrant jazz community without embracing all forms of jazz.
Jazz did not begin in 1950. There is an extensive, almost endless catalog of songs from the three prior decades that is full of life, energy, relevance, bliss, heartache, humor, love, affection, food, sex, and crazy people. This music is awesome in so many ways and, perhaps, should be performed live because sometimes the recording technology back then wasn’t up to modern snuff.
I want to hear it and I have friends who want to hear it. I’d love to be able to go out to something other than a swing dance and hear “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave to Me” or “Dinah” or “Rockin’ in Rhythm.” Can we do this, Triangle? I’ve got the people if you’ve got the space.
To help in understanding where I am coming from, I have compiled a list of reasons why your venue should book musicians who play 20′s, 30′s, and 40′s jazz:
What made the Roaring Twenties fun? It wasn’t just the booze, it was also the music – the two were almost inseparable. This music was made for parties, dance halls, brothels, bars, and just about every place your mother would disapprove of. It’s joyous music with an energy that can lift your spirits.
The jazz of the 1920′s, 30′s, and 40′s is pop music – it was the pop music of its time and, while it sounds somewhat different from today’s pop music, the two are not so far apart. It’s melodic and, for the most part, it has lyrics or is based on songs written with lyrics. It all has a driving rhythm, a certain pulse. Most of it is in a major key and in 4/4 time. I think we’ve met most of the criteria for pop music at this point, so your subconscious should at least warm up to the sound.
I don’t want to spend any time bashing modern jazz, I’ll just say it’s not my bag. It doesn’t speak to me the way earlier forms of jazz have spoken to me. Perhaps I just need something that’s simple to enjoy.
The jazz of the 1920′s through the 1940′s was dance music. In fact, a major divide between this era and the bebop/modern jazz era is that sensibility, that jazz transitioned from something that you danced to into something that you listened to – from the dance hall to the concert hall.
However, dancing isn’t the only function. Think about the music that we dance to today – people play “dance” music in bars and restaurants all the time, but you don’t necessarily get up and dance at those places. Early jazz music can create a similar energy in a room.
A lot of people book jazz groups to set a mood. Perhaps its the instrumentation or the songs themselves, but jazz is a class act. Early jazz can add a different tone of class, obviously harkening back to an earlier, perhaps even more genteel and elegant era of the silver screen, the lawn party, and the supper club. It can be a party, but it can also be a soiree, depending on the song selection.
I see evidence of this mostly at live, outdoor events, but people of all ages love this music. Obviously the people who were there the first time around are fans, but kids immediately start going bananas when they hear an uptempo swing tune and try to get as close to the band as possible. Some of the most vocal fans of this music are from the Baby Boomers. As someone sort of spanning Gen X and Y, I’ve been listening to this music since I was a teenager and there are countless others just like me in cities all over the world, and even a few more like me here in the Triangle.
I’d like to make a difference for my friends who love this music or love to perform this music. I’d like to get excited about events and bands. I’d like to make the Triangle a great place for all kinds of jazz. There is certainly so much potential here, but there is still work left to do to bridge these musical gaps.
The Mint Julep Jazz Band is excited to return to Carrboro for a show on June 16, 2012 at the Triangle Swing Dance Society swing dance, held at the Carrboro Century Center. Come dance on the finest sprung wood floor in the Triangle! Don’t know how to dance? No problem! There’s a beginner lesson at 7:00 p.m. that is included with the price of admission.
Carrboro Century Center
100 N. Greensboro Street
Beginner east coast swing lesson – 7:00 p.m.
Band plays from 8:00-11:00 p.m.
Admission: Members/students $8.00, general admission $12.00
We’ll be donning our finest emerald apparel for the Mint Julep Jazz Band show on March 17, 2012 at the Triangle Swing Dance Society swing dance, held at the Carrboro Century Center. Come dance on the finest sprung wood floor in the Triangle! Don’t know how to dance? No problem! There’s a beginner lesson at 7:00 p.m. that is included with the price of admission.
Carrboro Century Center
100 N. Greensboro Street
Beginner east coast swing lesson – 7:00 p.m.
Band plays from 8:00-11:00 p.m.
Admission: Members/students $8.00, general admission $12.00
Starting a new band raises a lot of questions – in conversations with people, these questions have come up most frequently, so here’s a little FAQ to get you more acquainted with the Mint Julep Jazz Band:
What kind of music will you play?
We will focus on music from the 1920′s and 1930′s, but some early 1940′s tunes may creep into the mix. The band will be playing arrangements that are either transcribed from original recordings or reproductions of original recordings (or a combination of both – sometimes having a hi-fi reference helps a lot) and arrangements that our maestro Lucian Cobb creates on his own, based on songs from this era. We will be playing a few arrangements Lucian has done in the past and songs you may have heard vocalist Laura Windley perform, but the majority of the material will be new. Most importantly, this music will swing!
How many people will be in the band?
Right now, we really like the idea of having either a 7 or 8 piece band, giving us either a 3 or 4 piece rhythm section with 3 horns, plus a vocalist. With this format, we are able to play arrangements of big band or smaller group charts, giving us a fuller sound than a jazz combo. We are also able to offer a more affordable alternative to a big band.
Will you have a smaller group?
Unfortunately, we will not have a smaller group. We understand that this limits the venues we can play, especially locally, but we are more interested in creating a specific sound.
Who is going to be in the band?
We’d like to have a set lineup, but in the jazz world this is not always possible – some of our band members have bands of their own, so we are fortunate enough to have other jazz musicians that we have worked with in the past to fill their shoes. You can be sure you will see Peter Lamb (sax), Al Strong (trumpet), Aaron Tucker (drums), Jason Foureman (bass), Aaron Hill (sax), Rich Willey (trumpet), Kyle Santos (trumpet), Mark Wells (piano), and other great jazz musicians from the Triangle and beyond who we enjoy performing with and will lend their unique talents to this endeavor.
When will you be ready to play?
The goal is to be ready in March and, indeed, we’ve already got gigs in March 2012 and beyond! For more details, see our calendar page. We do have a show on February 23 for RDU Rent Party – we invite everyone to come to this sneak preview!
Where will you play?
Our bread and butter will be swing dances, and we’ve already got a wedding on the books. We are also available for community events, outdoor festivals, jazz societies, schools, private parties, charity events/fundraisers, historic and reenactment-related events, and, really, anywhere that people enjoy music. We are looking to travel outside of the Triangle area of North Carolina and would welcome gig opportunities in other cities.
Peter Lamb and the Wolves will play a concert at the Carrboro Arts Center this Sunday, October 2, 2011. I will be joining the Wolves onstage for a few songs and so will Lucian Cobb, the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars‘ trombone player extraordinaire.
From the Arts Center website:
“The dance floor will be open for Peter Lamb and The Wolves’ Arts Center debut! Named best Jazz group in the Triangle, this young quintet lives up to their fairy-tale namesakes. The Wolves peddle languid sophistication that is always a little bit dangerous–their repertoire reaches back to New Orleans’ earliest syncopaters but also forward to hipster bards like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. http://www.peterlambandthewolves.com. Recommended for fans of: James Hunter, Sam Cooke.”
Single Admission: $11
Members Single Admission: $9
Day-of-show non-members: $13
Get your tickets in advance through the Carrboro Arts Center’s website: http://artscenterlive.org/event/performance/527
Watch the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars make their documentary debut in this Triangle, NC based television show highlighting the music scene and various musicians in the area, with all episodes available online. We are featured in the first half of Episode 4 – available at http://soundsituations.com/eps/4/
I occasionally get asked the question, “How did you start swing dancing? What’s your story?” Everyone has a story about how they came to this subculture and, if you’ve been dancing for over a decade, that story must be like ancient history to the new generation of dancers. Prompted by both the Wandering and Pondering and ‘Taint What You Do blogs, I’ve put my story into words.
My story begins with a love affair with jazz music. In 1996/1997 I was in the 10th grade at Davie County High School, the only high school in a very rural North Carolina county. I was heavily influenced by the music on an alternative rock radio station based out of Winston-Salem, NC, but I can’t remember the call letters and I’m not sure they even exist anymore. I would listen to their music getting ready for school in the morning and it was through this radio station that I was exposed to North Carolina’s own Squirrel Nut Zippers. I loved the sound, bought the CD, immersed myself in it, and shared it with others. I developed a curiosity for this music and began to seek out other artists in this vein, but this was before widespread internet use so my resources were limited. At the end of 11th grade I did a project for my U.S. History class on my grandfather’s adventures as a Merchant Mariner during WWII and used SNZ’s “Good Enough for Grandad” as the background music for my video montage of photos. My grandfather would frequently talk about jazz and musicians from the 1930′s and 1940′s, as well as play music from this era on his turntables, and I slowly began putting all the pieces together in a historical context, where SNZ got their inspiration. This was just before all hell broke loose.
I remember riding around the next summer in my 1990 Honda Civic DX with my best friend Caroline, squealing whenever we heard the Brian Setzer Orchestra or Cherry Poppin’ Daddies on the radio – “Turn it up! We have to get this CD!” Somewhere in this time frame of 1998, the GAP debuted its “Khakis Swing” commercial and I was completely smitten, bitten, and infected with the jitterbug. There was a dance I could learn that went with all this great music? I had to do it, right then. But how? I was 17, living in rural North Carolina with overprotective parents, where was I going to find someone to teach me?
The ever resourceful Caroline had the idea that we would host our own swing dance at our high school. After a little digging, we discovered that we could use the gym after a football game for about an hour and that the high school band director did ballroom dancing with his wife and would be willing to teach an East Coast Swing lesson. We befriended the A/V guys who put together mini-commercials for the dance that aired during morning announcements, using dance clips from A League of Their Own and Swingers. I put together a set of my swing music (my first DJ gig!) and with a boom box we were set. Caroline and I donned our GAP khakis, took the basic lesson, did dangerous aerials with our friends, and left with a feeling of accomplishment – we learned how to swing dance!
I forget how the word trickled down to me, but a few weeks later I learned that the Millennium Center in Winston-Salem had swing dances. I rounded up a group of my friends to head into “the city” to attend a Supermurgatroid Productions dance at this wonderful venue, an old post office converted into an event space with miles of wood floors. I took another beginner lesson, this time with Joel Domoe and Salima (don’t remember her last name), and I was bursting with excitement. I’d get to dance with REAL swing dancers, not just the boys at my high school. I was in heaven. After the lesson, my friends were not as into it as I was and I remember leaving the dance earlier than I wanted, but I did manage to sneak in a few dances with more experienced dancers.
I continued to watch the swing craze play itself out over television, catching broadcasts of the Brian Setzer Orchestra and other neo-swing bands that may have appeared on shows (see video above from 1998 MTV Music Awards, dancers enter around 5:20 – do you know any of the dancers? Do they still dance?) and on late night TV. I remember seeing dancers in these productions, with brightly colored outfits, flipping and turning with gusto. I remember reading articles about the swing dance and vintage culture in Los Angeles, California, seeing photographs of men in zoot suits or three piece suits and women in beautiful vintage dresses and accessories. I watched Swing Kids and started collecting a few traditional swing and jazz CDs, in addition to neo-swing.
I didn’t return to swing dancing until after golf season and a bout with mono, but as I headed to my freshman year of college at East Carolina University, I sought out swing dance lessons on campus and discovered that the campus Methodist minister taught weekly lessons at the Methodist student center. The response for these lessons was overwhelming and we all packed into the tiny auditorium at the student center to get our weekly dose of East Coast Swing. There were only a handful of actual social dances at the student center, in spite of the amazing turnout, and some of us wanted more. Two Air Force pilots from Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro who commuted to the weekly swing dance lessons at ECU told some of the dancers about a weekly dance in Raleigh they had been commuting to, where all the best dancers in the state would come and dance every week. It was at a place called The Warehouse. I’d only been to Raleigh a handful of times in my life and I was dying to see people dance like the GAP ads. I was in.
Lindy Shopper storytelling shopping detour: I couldn’t show up to a big dance in Raleigh wearing just anything, especially after seeing the L.A. women in their beautiful dresses. Surely, the sophisticated dancers in Raleigh would all be wearing vintage! On a trip home to visit my parents, my mother took me to Winston-Salem to a vintage store called, I believe, Hello Betty. I had no idea what to look for, but my mother did, thanks to her sewing experience, her penchant for historical costumes, and her childhood during the 1950′s. Looking back, we actually found two really great dresses – the first was a pale pink late 1940′s rayon dress with mother of pearl buttons on the the bodice and black stitching detail (lost to moths a few years ago, tears ensued); the second was an early 1960′s black cocktail dress from Montaldo’s, which we later discovered (after ripping out the lining to tailor the dress) was a Ferdinando Sarmi design.
When we made it to the Warehouse, late on a school night, I was overwhelmed by what I saw. It wasn’t the GAP ad, but, in my opinion at the time, it was real swing dancing. Being around these dancers was intimidating, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off the dance floor. I danced with the guys who came with us and maybe one other person, but kept to the side of the dance floor. I think one person commented on my vintage dress. I was the only person wearing vintage and stuck out like a sore thumb. Some things never change around here. I went to the Warehouse one other time before the flyboys were transferred to another Air Force base.
During the second semester of my sophomore year of college, the campus Methodist minister started teaching us Lindy Hop, based on the Frankie Manning videos. A small group of us struggled to get the steps right, and it slowly began to make sense. At the end of the semester the minister sat us down and told us he had taught us everything he knew and that he wouldn’t be able to teach next year because of his duties. Would a couple of us be willing to take over the lessons? Somehow, the torch was handed to me and my dorm-mate of the past two years, Mike Guzzo, to take over the East Coast Swing lessons.
Mike and I started the semester with that same packed auditorium, but by the end of the semester it had dwindled down to a core group that would eventually become the ECU Swing Dance Club. It was about this time that I met Dave Fillmore at a local dance, who had a profound influence on my Lindy Hop. Dave spent a few months out of every year living in San Francisco, dancing and taking lessons from Paul Overton and Sharon Ashe (who, ironically, now live in the same town as I do). Dave took me under his wing, taught me some proper technique, turned me on to what the national DJs were playing at the time, and, most importantly, got me traveling to dance. We would ride together to the weekly dances in Raleigh, which had moved to a restaurant/brewery called Greenshields, and I slowly overcame my awe of the dancing there and joined in. We’d commute to the Triangle Swing Dance Society dances at the Durham Armory. In 2003, I attended my first Lindy exchange, DCLX. The rest, as they say, is history. I eventually moved from Greenville to the Triangle and I’ve been an active member of the swing dance community here for years and continue to travel to swing dance events all over the United States.
Episode 04 of Sound Situations featuring Birds and Arrows and the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars is set to air Thursday and Saturday at 6pm on Channel 10 of Raleigh Television Network! Web episode hits next week at http://www.soundsituations.com. We are excited to be featured on this fantastic documentary television show that highlights the music scene in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Stay tuned!