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!
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:
It’s always a pleasure to work with bandleader Craig Gildner and I’m excited to be joining the Craig Gildner Big Band, along with my husband Lucian Cobb as the featured trombone player, at Glen Echo Park’s historic Spanish Ballroom on March 10, 2018. We’ll have new tunes for you, or at least some new-to-me tunes that I’m excited to present to a room full of dancers!
You know the drill – beginner lesson at 8:00 p.m., dancing from 9:00 p.m. until midnight! Come swing out, DC!
Austin, Texas has an amazing swing dance community and plays host to an entire weekend of Balboa and Collegiate Shag at their annual event Hot Rhythm Holiday – I’m excited to be performing for TWO nights of live music with my Mint Julep Jazz Band, February 16 and 17, 2018! We’ll be at the main dances each night from 8:15 p.m. to midnight. Be prepared for a bunch of new tunes, maybe some special guests, it’s going to be a swell time. 😉 For more information, visit the HRH website and we’ll see you soon, Austin!
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!
If 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!
Artwork and design by Ryan Calloway Art
Available December 5th on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and more!”
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):
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!
I 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!
My 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!
A 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.