Lindy Hop

Live at Jammin’ on the James

Now that we’ve recorded A Bull City Holiday and can look forward to that release in November, 2019, I’m on to the next recording project!  Looking forward to recording a live album with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Jammin’ on the James in Richmond, VA over the weekend of October 18 and 19, 2019 – we’ll be working with sound engineer Rob Moreland (who we’ve worked with at Lindy Focus and the Nevermore Jazz Ball) to capture the energy of this band in a Craftsman era ballroom that will be filled to the brim with dancers.  Thanks so much to the Jammin’ on the James organizers for conceiving of this project and going above and beyond to make it a reality!

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Late Night Eats and Cocktails at the Bull City Swingout

Bull everything, Bulldega in the background.

For all of you coming into town for the Bull City Swingout who are unfamiliar with Durham, NC, we are a food town – a foodie town, if you will.  You will have the utmost advantage because much of Durham’s foodie food is located within walking distance of all the venues for this workshop and swing dance weekend.  I’m not here to tell you where to eat because it would take too long, there are too many good options – pull up Yelp and figure out what type of food you want to eat and just go.

Three pro tips: 1) If you want to eat at Dame’s Chicken and Waffles, you need to make a reservation in advance and prepare to either have leftovers or be destroyed in the best possible way.  2) Get the ribs at Blue Note Grill on Sunday night for John Dee Holeman’s show from 6-8 p.m. 3) There’s a small grocery store a block from the Armory called the Bulldega if you need to grab drinks (regular and alcoholic), snacks, or something quick to eat.

Late night food can be hard to figure out and I’d also like to highlight some of my favorite cocktail places within the walkable area, so let’s take a little jaunt around downtown Durham to some of my favorite haunts:

The neon sign lights the way to the Jack Tar Diner, named for the original hotel chain that built this building.

LATE NIGHT FOOD

Jack Tar Diner (202 Corcoran Street) – this is a 1/2 block from the Armory and they serve food until midnight.  Both main dances end at 11:30 p.m., so you’d have to go directly there to get seated and fed, but it’s worth it if you need a full meal after the dance.  The menu is diverse and delicious, they serve breakfast all day, and the cocktails at their adjoining bar, the Colonel’s Daughter, are excellent.  This is a two-for, since it’s also a cocktail recommendation – say hi to Kenny Smith the bartender for me, we went to college together.

Pie Pushers (117A W. Main Street) – the restaurant space itself isn’t open, but on Fridays and Saturdays they have a pizza window on the street level that’s open from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. where you can buy slices.

Parts & Labor (723 Rigsbee Avenue) – serving until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, this is the restaurant attached to Motorco Music Hall, which used to be an automobile dealership.  They offer a number of small plate style to-go foods (1 for a snack, 2-3 for a meal), everything from poutine to Bahn mi to vegan tacos to cheeseburger sliders.  Step up to the bar and order, opt to dine indoors or outdoors on their picnic table patio (or they may have the doors open and really everything becomes outdoor eating).  This is across the street from the Living Arts Collective.

The bar at Hutchins Garage.

Hutchins Garage (402 W. Geer Street) – serving pizza and beer until 2 a.m., large table seating.  I am less familiar with this place because it’s the newest, but the pizza I had there was good!  It’s also next door to the Living Arts Collective, just walk past the Crossfit place and the unoccupied portion of the building, which also used to be an automobile dealership.

The Accordion Club (316 W. Geer Street) – maybe you need a little cocktail and a late night snack and want to do it like a local?  Several of my friends claim this as their favorite bar in Durham, but what sold me on recommending this place is the Frito pie.  Open until 2 a.m.

If you’re looking for something outside of downtown, go to Cosmic Cantina (the one on Perry Street, open until 4 a.m.) for delicious burritos and nachos or Cook Out (3 locations in Durham, open until 3:00 a.m. or 3:30 a.m., depending on which one) for burgers, BBQ, and epic milkshakes.

I love sitting on the right side of the corner of the bar, you can watch the magic happen…

COCKTAILS

Bar Virgile (105 S. Mangum Street) – this is my favorite cocktail bar because it’s the total package for me – classic cocktail menu, seasonal cocktails, a bar staff that can make me anything I throw at them, excellent food menu ranging from bites to entrees, cool and cozy decor, and it’s 3 doors down from my office. 🙂

Alley Twenty-Six (320 E. Chapel Hill Street) – my favorite chef, Carrie Schleiffer, presides over the kitchen at Alley Twenty-Six, which is a cocktail-focused bar and restaurant with an excellent cocktail program and Carrie keeps things seasonal and adventurous with the food menu.  If you are looking for a stellar dinner and cocktails before the dance, this is my recommendation and it’s just around the corner from the Durham Armory.  Would recommend making a reservation just in case, but even if you forget you still may be able to get a table or a seat at one of the dual bars.

The Roof at The Durham Hotel (315 E. Chapel Hill Street) – the cocktails are good, but I’m recommending this for the decor and the view.  The Durham is a renovated bank building turned into something out of Mad Men, with impeccable MCM exterior and interior.  Take the elevator up to the rooftop bar for one of the best views of Durham and recline on the couches with your cocktail as you take it all in.

Can I just hang out by the Unscripted pool all day?

The Unscripted Hotel’s poolside bar (202 N. Corcoran Street) – this is another one I’m recommending for the experience, which is also straight out of Mad Men, perhaps even more overtly since they have left the second floor poolside/balcony area pretty much intact from the 1960’s.  There’s a cocktail hour planned here as part of the Bull City Swingout festivities from 6-8 p.m. prior to the Saturday night dance, but I’d also recommend coming here for a poolside cocktail and swim during the day if you’re not taking classes.  You don’t have to be a hotel guest to use the adorable pool.  Grab a Frosé (rosé and strawberry slushy) and don’t forget your sunscreen.

There are even more incredible restaurants serving wonderful cocktails downtown, so feel free to explore and make your own decisions.  Also, feel free to weigh in on your favorites in the comments.  Cheers and enjoy!

Lindy Focus Live Streams

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Chick Webb night 2018, thanks to the fab Hilary Mercer Photography

My biggest recurring gig of the past few years is definitely Lindy Focus – five nights of big band music with the Jonathan Stout Lindy Focus All Star Orchestra, with new songs added each year and, for the past three years, an entirely new bandleader’s night of music is performed, thanks to crowd funding from our stellar community of swing music supporters.  This year’s lineup from start to finish was Jimmie Lunceford (crowd funded in 2017), Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton (crowd funded in 2018), Chick Webb (crowd funded in 2016), and “Kitchen Sink Night” on New Year’s Eve, featuring an array of swing era arrangements.  All of the main dances are Lindy Focus are live streamed on YouTube, which means you can always go back and listen to the music from each night of dancing later!  Here are all the live streams from December 27 through December 31, 2018 – I’m featured, in some way or another, as a vocalist on each night, with a vocal trio on Lunceford night and as a featured vocalist on the other four nights.  Put some on while you’re doing chores or on a long drive for some toe-tapping tunes!

Jazz Lives – Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the San Diego Jazz Festival

One of the most delightful human beings and ardent jazz fans is also a prolific blogger – Michael Steinman of the blog Jazz Lives covers the news and music of early-jazz performers of today and yesteryear.  I was fortunate enough to be at the San Diego Jazz Festival on all accounts, but particularly because Michael is a delightful conversationalist and happened to be in same space with his video camera.  He caught Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders‘ first set and persevered, in spite of the dance noise, dancer chatter, and a herd of children in tap shoes, to capture 10 videos from the set and write this lovely blog post.  Check it out and spend a set at the San Diego Jazz Festival in the comfort of your home.

The Michael and Evita Show

Last year at Lindy Focus I recorded a podcast interview with international swing dance instructor and human of effervescence and light Evita Arce for her podcast The Michael and Evita Show, which she shares with her dance partner Michael Jagger.  The episode (#28) was just released this month, so take a listen!  We talk about clothing, jazz, copyright law, and more – tune in on their website or subscribe on Apple podcasts.

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Holiday Season Shows

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Photograph courtesy of Jessica Keener Photography

As we approach the end of 2018, I have some great gigs coming up, some new, some familiar, but always enjoyable – hope to see you on the dance floor or at a holiday soiree…

November 2-3, 2018  I’m performing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders and Orchestra at The Nevermore Jazz Ball, in St. Louis, Missouri.  Nevermore always cultivates an inviting and local event that draws dancers from all over the U.S. and beyond, with top instruction, great local bands at their Saturday afternoon jazz crawl on Cherokee Street, and some fantastic venues, like the historic Casa Loma Ballroom.

November 24, 2018  The day after Thanksgiving I will board a plan to San Diego to perform with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the San Diego Jazz Festival.  This is my first time at a west coast jazz festival and really my first time at a jazz festival that focuses on traditional jazz – of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this long-running festival has incorporated dance-focused concerts into its lineup, which is where you can find me, both singing and dancing!

December 1 and 8, 2018 The Mint Julep Jazz Band will be performing a private holiday parties – we still have some open dates if you’d like to book us!  Email mintjulepjazzband@gmail.com.  Otherwise, I’ll use that free time to decorate and make holiday cookies. 😉

December 27-31, 2018 I’ll be with the Jonathan Stout and the Lindy Focus All-Star Orchestra and with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the Disney World of Lindy Hop events, Lindy Focus, in Asheville, NC.  As I’ve posted previously on this blog, we’ll be debuting the newly transcribed charts of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra (who featured a very young Dinah Washington in his band in the 1940’s) and his all-stars and smaller groups, thanks to the generosity of the swing dance/music/fan communities that help support live music via the Indiegogo campaign and keep these charts in the hands of musicians who can continue to perform them.  If you can’t be there, you can tune in and hear the orchestra on the Lindy Focus live stream!

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Rhythm Is Our Business – October 12-13, 2018

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When dancer/bandleader/event organizer Megan Lange does something, she does it right – which is why I’m excited to be performing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the inaugural Rhythm Is Our Business, a workshop weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, October 12-14, 2018.  Megan, as a dancer and musician, has some great ideas on the interplay between the two, here’s a statement from the event website about this weekend’s focus:

“Live music is, arguably, one of the most pivotal parts of Lindy Hop – the history of our dance is steeped in the sounds of Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, and all of the swing bands we know and love. But when it comes to the partnership between dance and live music, we’re missing something – and Rhythm Is Our Business looks to bridge that gap.

We’re here to bring you the best in partnership – the partnership between dancers and live music, the partnership between song form and flow of movement, the partnership between dancers and their dance partners, and the way all of these come together to create a perfect dance. In a world where emphasis is put on steps and technique in movement, we want to remind you how to bring it back to the original roots of moving to and with the music you dance alongside.

Rhythm Is Our Business brings you back to the music. Let’s re-acquaint ourselves with that partnership together!”

I hope to see you in Nashville this weekend!

Late Summer Shows

By land and by air, I’ll be all over the place for a bit:

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August 25-26, 2018 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at The International Lindy Hop Championships, Arlington, VA – excited to be a part of this esteemed and exciting event, to perform for such an enthusiastic jazz audience and to enjoy all the incredible performances that happen over the weekend from dancers all over the world.

August 31 and September 3, 2018 Mint Julep Jazz Band and with Michael Gamble and theRhythm Serenaders at Camp Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA – I’ll be DJ’ing and singing, and this is the Mint Julep Jazz Band’s west coast debut!  A little birdie told me that Jean Veloz will be dancing to our live music in the teacher jam and that’s about all my little heart can handle. ❤

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September 8, 2018 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the Triangle Swing Dance Society Dance, Durham, NC – we’ll welcome the students back into town and swing the eff out!

CANCELLED DUE TO HURRICANE September 12, 2018 Mint Julep Jazz Band at The Town of Cary’s Park After Dark, Cary, NC – our first performance for the Town of Cary, we’ll send out the summer outdoor concert season in style. –> RESCHEDULED FOR OCTOBER 3, 2018

CANCELLED DUE TO HURRICANE September 15, 2018 Mint Julep Jazz Band at Triangle Swing Dance Society dance, Carrboro, NC – always happy to be playing on our home turf!

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September 21-22, 2018  with the Classic City Swing All-Stars, Classic City Swing, Athens, GA – excited to be a part of this all-star band, which will perform the music of three bands (The Boilermaker Jazz Band, Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, and the Mint Julep Jazz Band) and feature a lineup including Paul Cosentino, Keenan McKenzie, Gordon Au, Lucian Cobb, Russ Wilson, Michael Gamble, Chip Newton, and yours truly, plus special guests Naomi Uyama and Jon Tigert!

October 3, 2018 Mint Julep Jazz Band at The Town of Cary’s Park After Dark, Cary, NC – our first performance for the Town of Cary, we’ll send out the summer outdoor concert season in style, fingers crossed, for real this time…

Much to be excited about, I hope to see you out and about!

Going to Madrid for The World Jam!

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EDITED 8/2/18: This event is cancelled, to my great dismay, for reasons out of the organizers control.  Some other time, Madrid… 

There aren’t enough exclamation points, I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be performing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders in Madrid, Spain this September at The World Jam!  This is my first international gig and the stakes are high – the premise of The World Jam event is that they invite four bands from all over the world to compete in Madrid, so each set is a band battle and the winners are…well, everyone is a winner, especially the dancers, to get to listen to and dance to all this amazing swing music!

We’ll be competing against some old friends and we’ll make some new friends from the bands we don’t know – joining us for the battle are Gordon Webster Band (NYC), Professor Cunningham and his Old School (NYC), and the Enric Peidro Swingtet (Spain).

Join us in Madrid September 27-30, 2018 if you love jazz and swing music!

 

April in DC and NYC

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: