vocalist

Keenan McKenzie Releases Album of Original Swing Music

23659509_10103419847799641_1131617545580786145_nIf 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!

Keenan McKenzie……………reeds
Gordon Au…………………..trumpet
Lucian Cobb……………..trombone
Jonathan Stout……………….guitar
Chris Dawson………………….piano
Seth Ford-Young………………bass
Josh Collazo………………….drums
Laura Windley………………..vocals
Miles Senzaki……………..engineer

Artwork and design by Ryan Calloway Art

Available December 5th on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and more!”

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Photograph by Brad Nathanson Photography

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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!

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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The Carolina Shout Podcast with Ethan Uslan

the-carolina-shout-logo_origMy friend Ethan Uslan, he of the ragtime/old time/stride piano playing World Champion fame, received a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Mecklenburg Arts Council to produce a podcast on ragtime and early jazz piano, which he has named The Carolina Shout.  Over the summer when the Mint Julep Jazz Band performed in Charlotte, I stopped by Ethan’s house and recorded two duets with Ethan that now appear on episodes 3 and 5 of his podcast.  All 10 episodes are available on iTunes, Stitcher, or via his website, and are chock full of Ethan’s humor, wit, early jazz knowledge, and his ebullient piano performances.  If your day needs a pick-me-up, this is where to get it!

Featured on Peter Lamb and the Wolves’ New Album “Carolina Tiger Milk”

1A couple of years ago my friend Peter Lamb of Peter Lamb and the Wolves invited me and Lucian Cobb to contribute a track to a bootleg album, featuring many local North Carolina musicians collaborating with his band, to be released as a reward for his second album’s Kickstarter.  Fast forward to this year and Peter Lamb decided that the album was too good to be kept a secret and has released the bootleg as a bona fide album, Carolina Tiger Milk.  Lucian did the arrangement and trombone performance on the track “I’m Evil” and yours truly provided the vocals for this Una Mae Carlisle cover.  You can pick up a copy of the album on iTunes or wherever the Wolves are performing.

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Fall Tour 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders

I have a few local gigs with the Mint Julep Jazz Band here and there this fall, but the bulk of my October and November performance schedule will be traveling with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders to swing dance events far and wide!  Here are the events and cities I’ll be visiting soon:

October 14-15, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the Slow Dance Soiree, Rochester, NY

October 28-29, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the Atlanta Varsity Showdown, Atlanta, GA – with costume night on Friday!

November 4-5, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the Nevermore Jazz Ball, St. Louis, MO – Saturday night at the historic Casa Loma Ballroom!

November 11-12, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Whistle Stop, West Lafayette, IN

November 18-19, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders and the Craig Gildner Big Band at the Austin Lindy Exchange, Austin, TX

Hope to see you at one (or some) of these events, come up and say hello!

Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders Debut Album

artworks-000166341762-hqhg9n-t500x500Be 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.

Rolling Sculpture Art Deco Car Exhibit – September 29, 2016

When the North Carolina Museum of Art reached out to the Mint Julep Jazz Band about performing at their Art Deco car exhibit, the response was a resounding yes – 30’s and 40’s machines of beauty plus music from the same era?  Yes, please!

We’ll be opening the Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and ’40s exhibit with a soiree on September 29 featuring food, cocktails, and hot jazz amongst the rolling sculptures featured in the exhibit.  Band plays from 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  This is the first of many cool events surrounding this exhibit, check out the NCMA Rolling Sculpture exhibit webpage to see what’s in store in the coming months!

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Classic City Swing – Athens, GA September 16-17, 2016

The Mint Julep Jazz Band‘s very first gig in Georgia will be Classic City Swing, a weekend of workshops and dances in Athens, Georgia! We’ll be playing the Friday night and Saturday night main dances at the New Dance Theater on the University of Georgia’s campus. Don’t worry, it’s not a home football game weekend, so you can avoid the traffic and the parking issues! With a large lineup of instructors, this promises to be a big weekend of dancing – for more information, visit the Classic City Swing website.

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The Process in Richmond, VA – July 22, 2016

The Mint Julep Jazz Band is returning to The Process in Richmond, Virginia this year, to perform at the Friday night main dance on July 22, 2016!  This Lindy Hop workshop weekend is unique in that it focuses on “the process of learning, teaching, and performing,” but definitely offers more than just workshops – there’s a ton of live music, including MJJB, Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders (who I’ll be joining for the Friday late night!), the Low Down Sires, the Resonant Rogues, and 504 Supreme.  Come swing out with us for a weekend of focused learning and amazing dancing!

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