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!
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!
Excited to be a part of Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders second album Get Rhythm in Your Feet, 17 tracks of classic swing music, expertly served up by Michael Gamble and a crew of all-star swing musicians! We recorded this album right after Lindy Focus this past year and it’s so great to go into the studio after a week of blissful performing for one of the best audiences on the planet. I’m singing on 6 tracks, pick up a copy on your favorite digital music platform today!
It was an incredible honor for the Mint Julep Jazz Band to be hired to perform at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing summer concert series for 2016, so when Michael Gamble asked me to perform at this year’s event, I was floored – on July 12, 2017, I’ll be singing with Michael Gamble at the Rhythm Serenaders at this truly amazing outdoor event, one that many New York dancers say is their favorite dance event in the city. Midsummer Night Swing is three consecutive weeks of social dances to live music, highlighting musicians from all over the US and the world, under the stars at a lighted dance pavilion set up at the bandshell at Damrosch Park. It’s a gorgeous event and I hope you will join us in New York for a night of awesome swing music and dancing!
Be sure to pick up a copy of Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders new self-titled debut album, featuring some of my favorite swing jazz musicians and yours truly. We recorded this album right after Lindy Focus in Asheville, NC at Isis Music Hall – we were all in town, so why not record an album? You can find me on 4 tracks on the album, but if you purchase the album through iTunes you get bonus tracks, including another vocal tune! I am so fortunate to have opportunities to record and perform, both through my own band and with Michael, and for this I am truly grateful, and grateful for all the support we have received from the swing dance community, who make all of these musical endeavors possible.
What could be better than five nights of big band music featuring a different swing era bandleader each night? Doing it all over again, getting another crack at those charts, and delighting dancers, both who loved the experience before and dancers who missed the joy of this event last year. I am delighted to be returning to Lindy Focus to sing five nights with the all-star Lindy Focus edition of the Jonathan Stout Orchestra and I’ll be lending my voice to Michael Gamble and his Rhythm Serenaders at one of the late night dances. I’ll also be DJ’ing in the Balboa room at some of the late night dances – this will be a very DO ALL THE THINGS kind of Lindy Focus for me! See you in Asheville December 27-31, 2015 to ring in the new year!
Here’s the lineup of musicians this year, in case you were curious:
Albert Alva (Saxes & Clarinet)
Gordon Au (Trumpet & Music Instructor)
Lucian Cobb (Trombone)
Josh Collazo (Drums & Music Instructor)
Paul Cosentino (Saxes, Clarinet, & Music Instructor)
Jonathan Doyle (Saxes, Clarinet, & Bandleader!)
Michael Gamble (Bass)
Craig Gildner (Piano)
Ryan Gould (Bass & Music Instructor)
Jake Handelman (Trombone)
Noah Hocker (Trumpet)
David Jellema (Cornet)
Jason Jurzak (Bass & Music Instructor)
Ken McGee (Trumpet)
Keenan McKenzie (Saxes, Clarinet, & Music Instructor)
Dean Mitchell (Saxes)
Ben Polcer (Trumpet & Music Instructor)
James Posedel (Piano)
Brooks Prumo (Guitar)
Hal Smith (Drums)
Jonathan Stout (Guitar & Bandleader!)
Allan Vache´ (Clarinet)
Dave Wilken (Trombone, Music Instructor and Program Overseer)
Russ Wilson (Drums, Vocals on “Basie Night”!)
Laura Windley (Vocals & DJ)
I decided to put together a playlist of all the tunes I sang with the Jonathan Stout Orchestra (aka Jonathan Stout and the Lindy Focus All Star Orchestra) that have been published on the Lindy Focus YouTube channel for my personal reference, then decided it might be good to share it with followers of this website. Here they are, videos available (there were many more performed than recorded, but we are grateful that so many were recorded) from each night of Lindy Focus XIII – I’ve made a YouTube playlist or you can watch them individually below:
COUNT BASIE NIGHT, December 27, 2014 (which was really Billie Holiday night for me, since there were no available old testament Basie female vocal charts):
ARTIE SHAW NIGHT, December 28, 2014 (no videos were filmed of my songs from this night)
DUKE ELLINGTON NIGHT, December 29, 2014
BENNY GOODMAN NIGHT, December 30, 2014
NEW YEAR’S EVE, December 31, 2014 (unofficial known as Kitchen Sink night)
It’s not every day that you get to sing with a big band, much less FIVE NIGHTS of big band music! This year I return to Lindy Focus to lend my vocals to the Jonathan Stout Orchestra, which will be featuring the music of a different bandleader each night of the event – Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and New Year’s Eve will feature all the other great tunes in Jonathan’s big band book. The lineup of musicians has been referred to as a “murderer’s row” of jazz/swing musicians and I’m delighted to be among their ranks – to have the opportunity to work with all of them and perform for so many wonderful dancers is such a joy! I’ll also be lending my DJ skills to the late night Balboa room – see you soon!
I’ve probably lost my mind, but I am beyond excited about the events coming in August and early September! The first two are for fun and the last four are gigs, which also happen to be fun – I love that singing has afforded me such great travel opportunities this year, performing with several different bands! Here’s where I’ll be, barring forces majeure:
August 8-10, 2014 – competing and social dancing at the Southeast Summer Brawl in Columbia, SC
August 16-17, 2014 – immersing myself in a 1920’s alternate universe and dancing like a mad flapper at the Jazz Age Lawn Party in New York City
August 21-24, 2014 – I’ll be pulling double duty at the International Lindy Hop Championships in Arlington, VA, DJ’ing and singing with the Jonathan Stout Orchestra and Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five!
So many exclamation points!!! Six states in six weekends – see you on the road!
Lindy Focus was such a tidal wave of positive energy this year – even though I didn’t have a lot of down time, all that energy kept me going and going! I got to work with some of the most amazing musicians and dancers, and even spin some tunes in the Balboa room. 🙂 It was an honor to be invited to be in the New Year’s Eve show, done to live music for the first time, and to work with Evita Arce, who is the creative genius who put together the show from scratch. It was a pleasure to perform with Jonathan Stout and his all-star band of musicians – the energy from the band performances was immense and infectious!
I’ve posted below my contributions to the New Year’s Eve show – a recreation of the Duke Ellington Short “Bli Blip” with whiz kid Jon Tigert and a performance of “Sunny Side of the Street” featuring tapper extraordinare Mike Herring – and a version of “Me Myself and I” performed with Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five. Campus Five first: