This will be my 12th All Balboa Weekend, attending and/or working in some capacity, and it’s always a joy to bring excellent swing music to these particular shuffling feet. This year I’ll be singing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders octet on Friday night (June 15) and with the Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders Orchestra on Saturday night (June 16). Michael always works in some new material for Balboa dancers and I’m excited to see what he brings to the table for this weekend and also excited to revisit all the wonderful Ella Fitzgerald charts that Michael utilizes to showcase the Heritage Sounds collection of charts (which you can buy on the Heritage Sounds website!). See you soon, Cleveland!
May kicks off the season for outdoor concert series and the Mint Julep Jazz Band will be joining the ranks of bands braving the elements to bring you tunes in (hopefully) sunny and pleasant weather! On May 16, 2018 we return to Booth Amphitheater’s Hob Nob Jazz Series for a performance on the back deck from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – admission is $5 (free for kids 12 and under) and you can either bring a picnic or buy wine and refreshments at the amphitheater. There’s always plenty of room at the amphitheater, both on the deck and in the grass, and the deck is good for dancing!
On May 20, 2018, we’ll be performing as part of the Got to be NC Festival at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds – find us on the stage outside of Dorton Arena playing two sets from 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Best of all, admission to the festival is free!
I love visiting these two cities and, in particular, these two events – I hope will be a mix of performing and dancing for me. First, on April 20, 2018, I’m singing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders Orchestra (our second performance after a fantastic debut at School of Hard Knox) at the Washington DC Lindy Exchange, in the historic Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park. On Saturday, April 21, 2018, join me and Alexandre Abdoulaev at Cafe Jovial in Baltimore from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for some tunes, coffee, and brunch. Then I head to New York to catch the end of Bal Week, performing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders on Friday and Saturday nights, April 27 and 28, 2018, and I’ll be hanging out the day before and couple of days after taking in all the good music and dancing this city has to offer. See you soon!
Until then, here’s a video from last year’s Bal Week performance with the Glenn Crytzer Orchestra:
I’ll be Knoxville-bound soon enough, but this is an extra special weekend because Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders Orchestra will have its debut performance at the Saturday night main dance at School of Hard Knox! If you’ve been following the transcriptions projects and Indiegogo.com campaigns for Chick Webb, Jimmie Lunceford, and (soon to be launched) Lionel Hampton, you’ll know that Michael has spearheaded this endeavor and has all these great big band charts that should really continue to be heard outside of once a year at Lindy Focus. It is my understanding that his new orchestra will be a showcase for these charts and bandleaders, so that more people can hear them, learn about them, and spread the love to other bandleaders, educators, music lovers, dancers, really anyone who may take an interest in this music. Michael will probably also have some other things up his sleeve, so this will, at least in part, be a surprise for me as well!
If you are interested in learning more about what charts are available right now, visit the Heritage Sounds website – we are still in the process of clearing licenses for many more arrangements (which takes a long time), so stay tuned!
If you are interested in dancing, come take classes and dance at School of Hard Knox – there’s a stellar instructor lineup for the weekend, great DJs, and shenanigans to be had!
It’s always a pleasure to work with bandleader Craig Gildner and I’m excited to be joining the Craig Gildner Big Band, along with my husband Lucian Cobb as the featured trombone player, at Glen Echo Park’s historic Spanish Ballroom on March 10, 2018. We’ll have new tunes for you, or at least some new-to-me tunes that I’m excited to present to a room full of dancers!
You know the drill – beginner lesson at 8:00 p.m., dancing from 9:00 p.m. until midnight! Come swing out, DC!
Austin, Texas has an amazing swing dance community and plays host to an entire weekend of Balboa and Collegiate Shag at their annual event Hot Rhythm Holiday – I’m excited to be performing for TWO nights of live music with my Mint Julep Jazz Band, February 16 and 17, 2018! We’ll be at the main dances each night from 8:15 p.m. to midnight. Be prepared for a bunch of new tunes, maybe some special guests, it’s going to be a swell time. 😉 For more information, visit the HRH website and we’ll see you soon, Austin!
I am honored to be invited to speak and perform as part of a collaborative show in Durham called The Artist’s Role, with some incredible performers and historians who I will be humbly and respectfully in awe of for the duration of the show, for their work, their knowledge, and their contributions to the arts.
What is this show? Here’s the story from the source:
“The Urban Artistry Preservatory Project, an initiative of Urban Artistry, An International Culture and Education Project, presents The Artist’s Role, an evening of music, dance, narrative, and visual art. Featured performers include three generations of tradition-bearers and innovators: NEA National Heritage Fellows Phil Wiggins and John Dee Holeman, Shana Tucker, Laura Windley, Joe Seamons and Ben Hunter. Featuring visual art by Darius Quarles and co-hosted by Greg Adams of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and Junious Lee Brickhouse of Urban Artistry, An International Culture and Education Project.
Tickets $12 in advance, $15 at the door theartistsrole.eventbrite.com
For The Artist’s Role, the Preservatory Project has chosen artists who, along with being talented and entertaining performers, are also historians, tradition bearers, and modern-day griots. The musicians span a range of genres and eras, from acoustic country blues to swing to soul. They all share a commitment to elevating the artists and communities who inspired and taught them. It is The Preservatory Project’s hope that the audience will find new ways to engage with and connect with communities that are often marginalized but to whom we owe so much artistically and culturally.”
I’m going to share some of my favorite stories and artists from women’s jazz history, sing a little, dance a little, and collaborate with the other musicians in the show. I hope you will come and be inspired, engaged, and energized by what you hear and see!
January 20, 2018, 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at The Vault, 1104 Broad Street, Durham, NC
It’s the most wonderful time of the year in many ways, but one special annual tradition for me for over 10 years at this point has been Lindy Focus, first as a dancer, then DJ, then vocalist. This year I’ll be re-joining Jonathan Stout‘s Lindy Focus All-Star Orchestra for the main dances and Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders for late night on December 30. I am excited that we will debut Jimmie Lunceford night on December 29, with chart transcriptions funded by the swing dance community, because Jimmie’s swing orchestra is one of my favorites.
I will also be participating in a panel discussion on December 30 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. called “Ain’t She Sweet? Issues of Gender for Musicians in a Male Oriented Jazz World” with some of my favorite jazz women, and you should also check out all of the discussion series led by Breai Mason-Campbell on issues of race in the Lindy Hop community. Lindy Focus is always fun and educational and I’m glad that the event continues to push us towards our better understanding and our better selves as a community.
See you soon!
If you love Keenan McKenzie’s original tunes and arrangements on the Mint Julep Jazz Band albums, you can now get even more of this great music in your life – Keenan is releasing a brand new album of original swing music written by the maestro himself called Forged in Rhythm, available now for preview and pre-order on Bandcamp and full release coming December 5! I am excited that Keenan decided to write 7 original vocal tunes (in addition to the 8 instrumental tunes) and invited me to sing on his debut release – what a magical thing to be the first to sing a song! We had such fun recording this album in Los Angeles in August and I’ve been eagerly anticipating sharing this album with all of you.
Here’s Keenan’s post about the album release:
“If you’d asked me a few years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined my first album would be 15 radio-length songs, all in 4/4 time. I now owe so much to the dance community that it’s hard to imagine it going any other way. Swing music has provided some unforgettable experiences and introduced me to a world of wonderful people, including Allison Meeks (you make my heart go thump thump thump!)
I’m thrilled to announce the upcoming release of FORGED IN RHYTHM. This album of original tunes is a celebration of my favorite ‘30s/‘40s musicians and a love letter to the swing dance scene. I got to work with some phenomenal players and great friends, and we had a blast making this record. I can’t wait for you to hear it!
Artwork and design by Ryan Calloway Art
Available December 5th on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and more!”
I feel like it’s a year of firsts in terms of travel for me, so my next “first” is my first time not flying home between weekend gigs. I’ll start my week of travel adventures in St. Louis for the Nevermore Jazz Ball, performing at the Saturday night and Sunday night main dances with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders. Saturday night is at the historic Casa Loma Ballroom, where many great bands from the swing era performed. Check out the video below for some footage of us performing in this amazing ballroom last year at Nevermore (video thanks to Voon Chew):
Once Nevermore wraps, I’m heading to San Francisco to perform with the Rhythm Serenaders again at Fog City Stomp at the Thursday night and Saturday night main dances. I’ll also be DJ’ing at the Friday night dance (with Clint Baker’s Golden Gate Swing Band on the bandstand) and participating in a panel discussion before the Friday dance on live music and the swing dance community. This will be my first trip to San Francisco and I’m excited to have a few days to see the sights, shop the shops, and eat the eats!
See you soon Mid-West and West Coast!