Laura Windley

Vote for Laura Windley in the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s Choreography Contest!

I’ve entered the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s Choreography Contest and I’d love to have your vote! If you’d like to vote for my routine or any of the other routines, please fill out this survey at Survey Monkey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/hsfchoreocomp

For more information on the competition, please visit the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s website. The winner will be decided by popular vote and you can only vote once. Voting ends December 31, 2011.

Here are the entry videos, going in the order in which they appeared on the Hawkeye Swing Festival’s Facebook page:

Laura Windley

Katibeth Lee

Jerry Foote and Robin Carlson

Serge Nika Berg and Sarah Relander

Gabriella Cook

Michael Brafford and Dee Daniels Locke

Stacia Martin and Jeremy Fischer

FAQ About Mint Julep Jazz Band

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.

Introducing the Mint Julep Jazz Band

After a week of brainstorming and polling our friends on Facebook, Lucian Cobb and I have a name for the new band we are forming: Mint Julep Jazz Band!

We are excited about having a name because this means we can start marketing the band and setting up all those things bands need, like a website, business cards, a Facebook page, and other identity-related things. It’s hard to book a band without a name, right?

Speaking of booking, we are also excited to announce that the Mint Julep Jazz Band already has two gigs lined up for next year, a wedding and a Lindy exchange – we’ll be playing the Queen City Lindy Exchange in Charlotte, NC on March 10, 2012!

Closed Doors, Open Windows, and Starting a New Band

In light of recent events and a lot of questions from friends and fans, I feel the need to clarify a few things. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Atomic Rhythm All-Stars bandleader, George Knott, terminating my involvement with the band as the vocalist and as the marketing person for the band. My involvement was terminated over a dispute regarding intellectual property rights. As of two weeks ago, I will no longer be performing with the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars and have been removed from all future performance dates.

I’d like to thank those of you who have been supportive of me during this time. It’s tough to pour your heart and soul into a project for three years, use your contacts to obtain gigs for the band, invest time and effort into developing an online presence and fan base, share in the joys and woes of being part of a band, and see something you got into on the ground floor grow and flourish, only to have your efforts and talents be deemed unnecessary.

To borrow from lyrics, the song is ended, but the melody lingers on…after hearing the news, my friends expressed that I should start my own band. I discussed this with my husband, trombone player and arranger Lucian Cobb, who is leaving the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars as well, and we both decided that we love this music too much to stop playing it. As our options for joining other bands as regular members are non-existent in Raleigh/Durham, we will be forming our own group to play 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s jazz, featuring Lucian’s arrangements from Atomic and many more new arrangements. We will also need a band name, equipment, ideas for songs, a book, a website, and gigs, among other things I’m sure we haven’t considered. It’s hard to start all over again, but, hopefully, we will continue our dreams of playing vintage jazz music and share the joy of this music through a different conduit.

We already have a gig on the books for next year and are accepting gigs for dates in March 2012 and beyond. Thank you to everyone who has faith in my abilities as a vocalist, organizer, and business-woman. I look forward to performing for you again!

Looking Good But Feeling Bad: The Choreography Begins

On October 27, 2011, I will begin teaching a four part workshop series for Hot Club of Durham of a routine I choreographed to Fats Waller’s “Looking Good But Feeling Bad.” I created this routine as a submission for the 2012 Hawkeye Swing Festival’s choreography contest and hope to submit a video of the class doing the routine in time for the December 15 deadline to enter the contest. Please join me, this routine is going to be super fun!

Dates for the workshop series:

October 27
November 10
November 17
December 1

All classes will run from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Trotter Building, 410 W. Geer St., Durham, NC. The cost is $40 for all classes and $32 for students; otherwise, $12 per drop-in or $8 for students. The price includes admission to the Thursday night Hot Club dance.

RSVP to the Facebook invite at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=182285021853650

Sound Situations, Episode 4 Featuring The Atomic Rhythm All-Stars Online Now

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/

Videos of George Knott’s Square Trio at Southside Stomp in Norfolk, VA

During the Southside Stomp dance on May 21, 2011, Victor Celania took some video of George Knott’s Square Trio playing with me on vocals. Here are two videos Victor posted, one of us performing “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and the other is “Darktown Strutter’s Ball.” George on guitar and banjo, Mark Wells on piano, and Lucian Cobb on trombone. Thanks, Victor!

Atomic Rhythm All-Stars play Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC

This weekend the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars have a double header, kicking off this season’s Music on the Porch concert series at the historic Mordecai House in Raleigh, NC on Friday, May 13. We’ll be playing from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on the lawn. Feel free to bring a picnic, kids, pets, and enjoy the sounds of hot jazz as the sun sets. More details at the Music on the Porch website at http://www.musicontheporch.com/.

On Saturday, May 14, we’ll be taking the bus to Winston-Salem, NC to the Piedmont Swing Dance Society’s dance at the Vintage Theater. The Carolina Fascinators will also be performing at this event. More details about the dance at http://www.piedmontswingdance.org/.