swing band

St. Louis and San Francisco

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):

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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!

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Fall 2017

There’s a nice mix of performances coming up, a little dancing, a little listening, a little of both – hope to see you at one of these upcoming dates!

September 29-30, 2017 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Classic City Swing, Athens, GA – a wonderful workshop weekend at the University of Georgia, it will be a mix of visiting with family and performing with this swingin’ band.

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MJJB at the Duck Jazz Festival in 2015

October 7, 2017 Mint Julep Jazz Band at the Duck Jazz Festival, Duck, NC – the festival is expanding to add a performance on Saturday afternoon (us!) with a swing dance lesson between sets, come join us on the coast for this wonderful festival with enthusiastic jazz fans.

October 8, 2017 Ella at the Savoy: A Centennial Tribute, UNC’s Kenan Music Building rehearsal hall, Chapel Hill, NC – one of my pet projects honoring the unparalleled Ella Fitzgerald and her early work with the Chick Webb Orchestra and with Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra.

October 19, 2017 Mint Julep Jazz Band at the North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, NC – this is not only our first performance at the State Fair, but my first time ever at the State Fair!  As a lifelong North Carolinian, I’m looking forward to finally being able to attend.

October 20-21, 2017  Mint Julep Jazz Band at Jammin’ on the James, Richmond, VA – excited to be performing for the first time with the Mint Julep Jazz Band at an event that is near and dear to my heart.  My very first workshop weekend as a baby Lindy Hopper was at JOTJ and organizers Rita Shiang and Andy Nishida put on a top notch event, now in its 15th year.

Hurricane Irma Pending – KLX and Let’s Dance Boston

klx-15-no-background-yellowAs a child of coastal North Carolina, I take hurricanes very seriously, so my next travel update is pending the chosen path of Hurricane Irma.  This weekend, which should occur without being affected, I’ll be singing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders on September 8 and 9, 2017 at the Knoxville Lindy Exchange!  In its 17th year, I look forward to singing and also DJ’ing at the late night dances.

My next bit of travel is more uncertain – if all goes well, I’ll be flying to Boston to perform at Let’s Dance Boston on September 13, 2017 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders for one night of dancing to swing music with an outdoor stage and dance pavillion.

First and foremost is safety – everyone stay safe if you are in Irma’s path!

Double Header Weekend – I Heart Bal and Camp Hollywood

CH-Flyer_2017_Front copyI may be a madwoman, but if I don’t make it I’m at least going out in a blaze of glory – this Labor Day weekend I will embark on a trip to perform at two dance events in the same weekend.  Perhaps this is not so much a feat for full time musicians, but as a full time attorney with a side hustle as a musician, this is new territory for me!  I’m excited because these events are near and dear to my heart – I Heart Bal in Richmond, VA (with the Mint Julep Jazz Band), for being a most endearing and nerdy Bal event in the sister city of Richmond, and Camp Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA (with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders), which is an event that has been on my bucket list since I was a wee Lindy Hopper.  Both of these events are run by women I admire and respect, Erica Vess and Hilary Alexander, respectively.  Both of these events also call for special wardrobing – I can’t say that I will have unicorn, pirate, and beach pajamas outfits in my suitcase for every performance weekend!  I can’t wait to see my east coast and west coast dance and music friends all in one weekend!

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Big Band Revival: Jimmie Lunceford

20245792_1883076361945181_6443729510126131418_nIn the second installment of transcribing arrangements for an entire night dance music from one swing era bandleader, Jimmie Lunceford is on deck and the Indiegogo campaign is live to raise the funds to transcribe all these arrangements and then make them available to the public for bandleaders to purchase for their own bands to perform (or, as in some cases, for dance communities to purchase for their local big band to perform!)   Michael Gamble covers a lot of bases in the video (posted below and in the Indiegogo campaign, about how the Chick Webb project worked from start to finish (and to print) and how we are doing it all over again to bring Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra back to life for one dance-long night of music.  Please do watch the video, there are a lot of interesting things about this project, some digging into the national archives for existing arrangements (in whole or in part), and some unique things about Lunceford’s band.  Once again, I’m delighted to be working on the transcription project with a team of people dedicated to making sure this music is performed again! #teamLunceford

New Album: Get Rhythm in Your Feet by Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders

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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!

Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders – July 12, 2017

Midsummer Night Swing 2016 - Mint Julep Jazz Band

MSNS Damrosch Park bandshell photograph courtesy of Ryan Swift

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!

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Nashville Dance Congress – May 5-6, 2017

We don’t see a lot of arts grant money going to social dance events, so it’s rare and wonderful that organizers of the Nashville Dance Congress have been the beneficiaries of a grant allowing them to provide a weekend of FREE dance classes from renowned instructors and social dances to live and DJ’ed music!  Featured dance genres are Salsa, Bachata, Ballroom Cabaret, West Coast Swing, Kizomba, Tango, Zouk, Lindy Hop, Balboa, and more!  I’m excited that the Mint Julep Jazz Band was invited to be a part of this inaugural event  – we’ll be performing three sets over the weekend, Friday and Saturday nights from 11:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and a Saturday afternoon set from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

If you are staying at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel, this event is free!  For more information or if you are not staying at the hotel, visit the Nashville Dance Congress website.

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Ella at the Savoy: A Centennial Tribute – April 23, 2017

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In 1934, Ella Fitzgerald was a homeless teenager on the streets of Harlem with an incredible voice – she was discovered at the Apollo Theater’s famous amateur night that year and was quickly picked up by drumming powerhouse Chick Webb to perform in his orchestra. Chick Webb’s band was the most prominent of the house bands at the Savoy Ballroom, one of New York’s largest ballrooms, the only integrated ballroom in New York, and the birthplace of Lindy Hop. Before she was the First Lady of Song, Ella honed her skills as a big band singer with some of New York’s top working jazz musicians of the 1930’s.

April 25, 2017 marks Ella’s 100th birthday and, as a centennial tribute, a group of Triangle musicians has come together to celebrate her early work with the Chick Webb Orchestra and, in the years following Chick Webb’s death in 1939 at the height of the orchestra’s fame, leading the orchestra under her own name – Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra.

Come see the show on April 23, 2017 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Sharp Nine Gallery/Durham Jazz Workshop, 4608 Industry Lane, Suite L, Durham, NC – tickets are $20.00 and you can purchase them through Brown Paper Tickets.  For more information, visit the Sharp Nine Gallery website.

11767807_4Laura Windley – vocals
Kobie Watkins – drums
Jim Crew – piano
Peter Kimosh – bass
Chip Newton – guitar
Keenan McKenzie – reeds
Aaron Hill – reeds
Dan Hitchcock – reeds
Taylor Savage – reeds
Lucian Cobb – trombone
Evan Ringel – trombone
Jim Ketch – trumpet
Kyle Santos – trumpet
Paul Rogers – trumpet

Chick Webb Night Live Stream Recording

Here it is, 3 sets (and two encores!) of Chick Webb music in all its glory at Lindy Focus 2016!  As with any tribute, we hope that the band was able to capture the magic of a night at the Savoy Ballroom, with the most famous of the Savoy’s house bands.  Much love to everyone who contributed to the transcription project to make this dream a reality!

Transcriptions by Mark Lopeman, Dan Barrett, and Keenan McKenzie.  Performed by the Jonathan Stout Lindy Focus All-Star Orchestra, with Jonathan Stout (guitar), Chris Dawson (piano), Marquis Howell (bass), Josh Collazo (drums), Gordon Au (trumpet), Ken McGee (trumpet), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Lucian Cobb (trombone), Dan Barrett (trombone), Albert Alva (reeds), Dan Levinson (reeds), Jonathan Doyle (reeds), Keenan McKenzie (reeds), and Laura Windley (vocals).