April and May Class Sign-Ups!

Spring Class Schedule 2015

Abigail and Adam Perform at Lindy Focus We’re excited that you’re going to join us for classes at on Monday Nights! When: Mondays Where: The Lindy Lab Why you should come:

  1. You enjoy swing dancing!
  2. You want to learn to lead/follow the opposite role of what you normally do!
  3. You want some planned exercise each week!
  4. You want to meet some new people!
  5. You like jazz music!

April 2015

Mondays (Apr 6, 13, 20, & 27) with Adam & Abigail

Extreme Tempos in Balboa (Intermediate) 7:00-8:00 Historically, Balboa was danced to a wide range of Jazz music tempos. Whether slow and sophisticated or fast and furious, this month will focus on the skills necessary to dance at the extremes. These classes will be designed for the intermediate to advanced Balboa dancers who want to expand their range and beginners who know the fundamentals and want a new challenge implementing them. East Coast Swing to Lindy Hop (Beginner) 8:10-9:10 Love East Coast Swing but want to give Lindy Hop a try? This class is for you! Each class will progressively focus on the patterns and technique specific to Lindy Hop. Beginners who have East Coast Swing experience will gain the most out of this series but raw beginners are welcome too!

May 2015

Mondays (May 4, 11, 18, & 25) with Adam & Abigail

SoCal Swing meets Balboa (Intermediate-Advanced) 7:00-8:00 In Southern California in the 1930s and 40s a dance called Balboa was its own spectacular entity but was transformed when the Swing dance craze traveled across the country. This four week series will utilize a base knowledge of Balboa and explore the energetic patterns and styling characterizing the swing dancing done in SoCal. Intermediate Balboa dancers and Lindy Hop Dancers are welcome! Styling in Lindy Hop (Beginner-Intermediate) 8:10-9:10 Know how to do a Swing Out? Now its time to learn how to do that same Swing Out in a million different ways. May’s class will discuss how simple changes in connection, footwork, and partnership can lead to a more dynamic and fun Lindy Hop experience. A perfect class for people who have started Lindy Hopping and love the swing out. CLASS REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. The Lindy Lab Triangle Dance Studio 2603 S. Miami Blvd., Durham, NC

Lindy Series Starts in November!

We’re excited that you’re going to join us for classes at 8pm on Monday Nights! This 6-week class will be great for anyone who wants to improve their skills as a swing dancer. Dates: Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24, Dec.1, 8. When: Monday @8pm Where: The Lindy Lab Why you should come:

  1. You want to learn the great American swing dance: Lindy Hop!
  2. You want to improve your fundamentals as a Lindy Hopper!
  3. You want to learn to lead/follow the opposite role of what you normally do.
  4. You want some planned exercise each week.
  5. You want to meet some new people.
  6. You like jazz music!

Sign up using the form below to reserve your spot. The Lindy Lab Triangle Dance Studio 2603 S. Miami Blvd., Durham, NC

Sign ups for the November-December session have ended. See you in class!

Dance Dance YouTube Revolution

 Why Swing Dance Organizers Should Give Up DVDs

Since the beginning of the YouTube Era, as long as weekend recaps and contest DVDs have been available, dancers have complained for having to buy the DVDs. But is there anything behind the desire other than just the drive to see oneself immediately on the big screen, making fools of ourselves in front of tens of people?  Is it better for organizers to make money off of these DVDs, or is it better to allow a free-for-all videotaping and subsequent YouTube fallout?

In the wake of this year’s ILHC videos and Yehoodi livecast (Full disclosure–I work for ILHC), the answer is obvious (In less than a week, Todd and Ramona’s routine had over 10,000 views).  While making money off of a DVD often offsets the any losses of a moderately (or even well-attended) dance weekend, positives of allowing for personal video recording far outweigh the possible losses.

Allowing anyone to videotape at an event is a good thing?

Yes. Yes it is.  For improving event turn-out, fostering community involvement, rewarding all competitors, increasing event loyalty, and of course, adding to the event’s bottom line.

***

Allowing Videotaping is a Good Investment

All about the Benjamins...Possibly most important to events, I want to address the money problem. The single most consistent complaint I hear from organizers is: “but the DVD makes us a lot of money.”

Is a DVD a sound investment? Time to crunch some numbers.

Hang with me. If an event makes $70 off of every $100 DVD (with $30 in production overhead), then they are banking $7,000 if they sell 100 DVD sets.  For organizers, this is no small chunk of change.  It can close any gaps in moderate turn-outs, or help to pay for the thousands of hours they’ve put into the event. But, let’s think about the actual cost-benefit analysis.

DVDs are mainly a staple of Balboa events, so I am going to try and put them in perspective of what they could have if they followed the models of successful Lindy events like ILHC and ULHS.

If the biggest competitions who have the reputation of allowing video-taping  (such as ILHC) get 15,000 views on their Balboa videos in a year then the best Balboa competitions (such as ABW) are missing out on this wonderful marketing option. By developing a culture of having videos up, ABW or EBC could at least get near 500 views or more per video, that’s five times the viewing potential of 100 DVDs. With an event price tag of $150, if only 10% of people who see the videos as a result to go to your event (ahem…EBC or ABW or [insert DVD dependant event here]), that’s the 50 new registrants who you need to achieve the $7,000 you were counting on from a DVD.

So: $70 x 100 DVDs = $7000

or:  $150 x 50 new registrants= $7500

And imagine, if the same number of registrants as DVDs: 150 x 100 = $15,000

That’s half as many people registering as you’d need to buy the DVD! And, with 50-100 more people at your event, the floor is fuller, the classes are stronger, and you get a greater buzz, more competitors, and overall a better vibe, and possibly a spark of more loyal people for future events. Ultimately the “money” is better spent investing in registrants than producing a DVD, and by having videos online doing the work for you, then you can more easily achieve this goal.

And, this isn’t to say an organizer couldn’t also produce a DVD for class recaps, persay, but there are some other stumbling blocks there…

****

Out with the Old

From a technology standpoint, DVDs are becoming obsolete.  Many computers don’t even build in DVD players anymore, and we are turning to outlets such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu Plus for movies and shows.   Why invest in an increasingly outdated technology?

DVD, the new VHS?

DVD, the new VHS?

At least for the near future, YouTube (and other video sharing sites) is invested in maintaining its users and library of videos for the long term. It will continue to grow more efficient and useful, while DVDs have reached the limits of their capacities.

Reinforcement vs. The Waiting Period

In the past few years, it has taken almost five months or more to receive DVDs from some Balboa dance events, far past the honeymoon phase of afterglow.  This is a problem for organizers.  Let’s take a look at what having the immediacy of YouTube can do for events.

1)    Loyalty–The sooner an event video is up, the more likely it is to be seen and shared by more people.  This increases the possibility of virality, solidifying psychological connection between the participants and event.

2)    Immediacy rewards those who were at your event, and encourages others to want to be there. People have had YouTube viewing parties for events like ILHC concurrently with the contests, which has Patrick and Natasha furiously uploading videos nearly instantaneously.  Again, this is a group of people watching your videos who couldn’t be there, wishing they could be, solidifying their passion to see the contests live in the future. To really “be there.” Take a look at Camp Hollywood. Half-way across the world, the Koreans were blogging the crap out of videos (along with Jerry Almonte, of Wandering and Pondering, among others). They gave a whole new level of visibility to the event, and they weren’t even there!

3)    Social Media! If a video of a comp is uploaded within a week, people can share the videos on their personal blogs, Facebook, twitter feeds, Google Plus, and the next new-fangled whatchamacallit.  DVDs do not allow for viral sharing. Obviously the more sharing that happens on the interwebs is positive for your view count and marketing to future participants.  Social media of multiple videos keeps the event alive and fresh in the minds of an event’s potential registrants.

4)    Ease: If you find a reliable source to record your event (such as PatrickAndNatasha), then ultimately it is low-involvement on your part to edit a video, and you can set expectations for when you want videos up by.

5)    We love sharing videos of ourselves online. You can count on your participants to promote your event for you if you put up videos. More people who see and hear and watch things about your event=more people will come to your event, period. Events can harness this excitement through allowing videotaping during the weekend. That way people can continue sharing videos of the event throughout the year to keep it fresh in the minds of friends and possible participants.


Why else?

YouTube Diagnostics: The Power of Statistics

By seeing which videos generate the most views, you can see how the general population is receiving your event.  Do you need to post the video on Facebook again to get more views? Do you need to encourage friends to share with their friends? Jerry Almonte keeps a nice record of the trending videos each year, which includes a variety of events.

The Ultimate Lindy Hop Championships was the true trailblazer of the YouTube phenom.  In 2006, with this video, ULHS videos changed the world, making ULHS the place where Lindy Hoppers had to be.  I remember it. The pull was incredibly strong to go—all because of a YouTube video.  When I saw the fast dancing competition, I shared it with every student and friend I could. It now has over a million views and inspired a movie reproduction in Toy Story 3.

ILHC and ESDC are newer events who have adopted this policy to tremendous viewing results.  In less than a year (as of 7/31/12), the Champions Strictly Lindy Alone has had 117,000 views for ILHC. ILHC started small, but now sells out with over 800 dancers.  This exponential growth is founded with a great team with a vision, but also from the library of hundreds of videos from the event, continuously shared and traded by dancers and enthusiasts.

Strong Community=More Participants

As a community of dancers, we don’t want to see just the 1st place dance, we want to see what was beat. We want the chance to make our own decisions about the aesthetics and techniques used.  Some events, like All Bal Weekend, choose to only show the first placement. Ultimately, that practice  holds the dance back.  How?

1)    Seeing more dancing begets more dancing.  More innovation, more unique couples allow for a broader spectrum of dancing.  More people might be inspired to start dancing Balboa if there were more videos of a range of couples.

2)    Seeing only one facet or one placement (first at ABW for example) hastens the homogenization of our dance (as does only hiring the same set of instructors ever event…cough cough). Seeing only one output of dancing (such as the 1st place winners) limits the world to seeing only one facet of the beautiful dancing that happened over your weekend.   And, without context, the dancing is less impressive.

3)    Sharing videos is social. It’s an act of community. Commenting on videos and engaging with the art that someone has produced generates an important bonding part of our community. The video to Snowball from Lindy Focus is a prime example:

4)    People feel rewarded for competing when they can watch themselves dance.  By uploading videos of them competing (even in prelims), you as an organizer are encouraging them for their participation and courage to compete.

5)    More videos of dancing allows for more means of inspiration, which then often turns into people wanting to be more invested in the dance, which means they are more likely to invest in coming to your event!

6)    International folks have to pick and choose which events in the US they go to. In the world-wide recession, many of us are also in the same boat.  Would you rather go to an event in a foreign country for which you’d seen videos, or one you’d seen nothing about?

Out with the Old, in with a New Hope

Dancers are incessantly connected.  For better or worse, Facebook connects us all.  YouTube is a staple of our community. YouTube builds visibility for the dance that we love, and though I’m not arguing that videos haven’t changed the way we think about the dance, hopefully allowing more videotaping will help build stronger, more rewarding events (and blog posts) for organizers and participants alike.

This is an open letter suggesting that all events allow for open-source videotaping.

Questions, comments? Please type away. There are so many things I didn’t get to say in this post, but I would welcome addenda.

Hot Club of NC: Social Dancing

We love to visit Tate Street Coffee Shop on Sundays for jazz.

1920’s Dress at Design Archives

Lindy Shopper and I went on over to one of our favorite Vintage shops here in Greensboro this weekend, Design Archives, to check out their 50% off sale!  She went away with a fabulous novelty print skirt, and I scored a beautiful yellow 1920’s slip dress.  I also tried on this Navy 1920’s drop waist dress, but decided on the yellow instead.

What’s in your closet?

Pin Up Inspiration

Photo by Andrey Popov, editing by me

I’ve always considered doing a Pin-Up shoot, and so when I bought a Living Social Deal on some photography, I did a lot of prep work.  First, I started looking at the greats such as Elvgren and Vargas, and considered different kinds of looks by compiling these sample pages. If you are preparing for a shoot, I highly suggest getting ideas from the greats.

Battle of the Bands DCLX 2012

Settling the Score: Battle of the Bands

DCLX, April 21, 2012

Last year, for the 10th Anniversary of DCLX, we witnessed a true battle royale, featuring The Jonathan Stout Orchestra and Crytzer’s Blue Rhythm Band.  This year, Glenn Crytzer is back from the west coast, and local big band, The Tom Cunningham Orchestra will take them on in a battle to the death on April 21, 2012 in the beautiful Glen Echo Ballroom.

Jerry Almonte

Many of us remember the epicness of the battle last year—the floor pulsing up and down with 800 dancers reminiscent of the Savoy, and a full night of incredible live swing music…with no need for a DJ.  I asked Jerry Almonte for some insight on this year’s battle to try and get a sense of what the match up would be like.  I couldn’t be more excited.  DCLX, here we come!

Abigail: Jerry, you have extensive knowledge about the Tom Cunningham Orchestra (TCO), having been a DC local for the past 13 years. Could you give sense of who TCO is and why DC should be pumped about them?

Jerry: TCO is DC’s band. Tom has been leading this band for 35 years, for swing dancers since the revival began in the 1980’s. The reason why DC had the rep of badass dancers who could bust to hard swinging music is because of Cunningham. TCO never babied anyone with their musical choices.

Abigail: The DCLX battle of the bands was crazy last year. What will TCO bring to the table?

Jerry: They’re not as sexy as Stout or Crytzer’s people but they’ve been there for DC every month of every year for a good long time. Their main advantage is that most of them have worked together for years and have a cohesion that Crytzer won’t be able to match.

Abigail: Really?

Jerry:  Glenn will bring an all star hot line up, but most of them will have never played with each other before, or certainly not as much as TCO. I interviewed the Boilermaker Jazz Band [who will also be playing at DCLX]  a couple of weeks ago, and one of the things I learned is that having people who play with you on a regular basis matters. That’s why Paul Cosentino [of the Boilermakers] tries to minimize the use of subs. They affect the sound and chemistry of the band. Sure you can add a really good player, but they may throw off everyone else’s balance.

Abigail: What surprises can we look for in the battle?

Jerry: TCO has been working on arrangements suggested by dancers for dancers. They’ve been playing them for a while but since they mainly play locally, they will feel new to many locals and out of towners.  Crytzer plays a lot of songs that DJ’s like to play at dances with similar arrangements. However, TCO will be able to match Crytzer song for song in that department.

TCO doesn’t play as “hot” as Glenn’s bands usually do …which may or may not be a good thing depending on what kind of crowd shows up.

Abigail: How so?

Jerry: TCO has a broader repertoire than Glenn who concentrates on 20′s and 30′s stuff. However, The Tom Cunningham Orchestra can go from Cotton Club Ellington to New Testament Basie.

Abigail: How many members are in TCO vs. Crytzer’s Blue Rhythm Band?

Jerry: TCO is a classic full big band. 16 musicians, not including vocalists (5 reeds, 3 trombones, 4 trumpets and full four piece rhythm section) which may be brought up to 20 depending on how many TCO decides to use. TCO will have an inside track on Crytzer because their regular clarinetist is Haley Shoenberg who played in Glenn’s band last year at DCLX and also with the Careless Lovers when they played at ILHC in 2011.

CBRB typically uses 12-14 people depending on circumstances.

[Editor’s note with insider knowledge from the DCLX committee: Halley Schoenberg will also be playing with Careless Lovers for the DCLX Saturday late night.  TCO will be 20 including Tom Cunningham.  Crytzer’s Blue Rhythm Band will be 14.  Glenn has mentioned that he has an even hotter band this year than last.]

Abigail: How will TCO sound? I remember the sound last year being drastically different between the Jonathan Stout Orchestra and Crytzer’s Blue Rhythm Band.

Jerry: Oh, are you talking about Glenn’s sound set up? Glenn uses fewer microphones than most bands do to get a more ensemble sound. Plus he deprives his musicians of monitors so they have to play that much louder to hear themselves over the din of the band. You could hear the difference last year against the Jonathan Stout Orchestra because JSO sounded more relaxed in comparison. For example, Jonathan likes to throw a riff from Basie’s “The King” to break up Woodside and to rile up the crowd and the players. At DCLX last year, you can see him practically begging the band to push it during this chorus, but they’re not having it. They’re professionals. They do their job. They do it well, but they’re not paid to go crazy on command. In comparison Glenn was making his guys work to be heard which is what I think put them over the top. Even without any extra effort, TCO will still field at least three more horn players than CBRB. Regardless, TCO’s guys can and will crank it up, monitors or no monitors.

But, that only makes a difference when you’re up front. Once you get to the middle of the ballroom and beyond, the speakers take over and it doesn’t matter any more.

Abigail: True. With a full ballroom, at least 200 people were up front at any given moment, with everyone crowding the bandstand at the end…

Jerry: That’s where depriving his band of monitors helped Glenn get that much more out of his guys because everyone was up close to feel their energy. Glenn was using the same number of local musicians as JSO, but he squeezed that much more out of them using this tactic. However, TCO will not be lacking in the enthusiasm department.

Abigail: Explain…

Jerry: TCO has watched other bands play DCLX for years, even though it’s really their town.   There’s a lot of incentive to blow Glenn off the stage.  TCO knows the score, and they’re probably look to settle it this year.

Abigail: There aren’t as many Lindy events in DC as there used to be…

Jerry: Yeah work for these kinds of bands is scarce. Tom is a full-time musician. He doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat.  That guy has a lot of pride riding on this one.

Abigail: It’ll be interesting to see, because I’m sure Glenn is coming in planning on defending his stellar performance from last year.

Jerry: There’s a lot of factors going into making this battle way more interesting than the last one.  In many ways, Glenn represents the kind of young musician that’s been pushing out more established ones like Tom Cunningham. Tom has been leading a big band longer than Glenn has been alive, but Glenn gets hired at all the events. Do you think no one notices that? Especially other musicians? Glenn may have won last year’s battle, he still has a lot to prove. He’s coming from an isolated place and DCLX may be his last, best opportunity on the East Coast to show people what he’s about.Then there’s Tom Cunningham, the veteran who wants to show the kids that he can still pack some heat.

This won’t just be a battle. It’ll be a war.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks to Jerry and Abigail for those insights to the upcoming battle of the bands at DCLX 2012.  To experience The Tom Cunningham Orchestra battling Glenn Crytzer’s Blue Rhythm Band, register at http://dclx.net/register/.  Your ticket includes guaranteed entry to the Battle, but also dances featuring the incredible music of Craig Gildner’s Blue Crescent Syncopators, Brooks Tegler’s Joy of Sax, the Careless Lovers, and the Boilermakers Jazz Band.  Lordy—that’s a great line up!  See you in April.

If you would like to continue reading other great stuff from the noted Lindy blogger and DJ, Jerry Almonte, check out his blog, Wandering and Pondering.

Interview With Glenn Crytzer

DCLX 2012 Battle of the Bands: An Authentic Approach
Interview with Bandleader, Glenn Crytzer

Saturday night at DCLX, we will witness one of the few true Big Band Battles in the lindy hop community.  Glenn Crytzer was generous to agree to an interview giving insight to his “authentic approach,” what he looks for in his musicians, and what surprises might be coming at the 2nd Annual Battle of the Bands.

***

Abigail: As a professional musician, give those of us going to DCLX a sense of your musical “style.”  What greats do you borrow from and why?

Glenn:  I like to select music for my groups that is from the era that inspired the creation and development of the lindy hop.  Our book of tunes ranges in style from around 1927 (the purported year that the lindy hop began) through the mid 1940’s.  Our musical starting point is fairly obvious, but the way I choose the ending point is more subjective.  The reason I cap things off at around 1945 is that in the mid to late 1940’s there was a big shift in the philosophy behind what jazz musicians were doing – they wanted to create music that people would listen to rather than dance to.  This of course caused the public taste to shift away from jazz.  Latin music, Country-Western, Rhythm and Blues, and Rock n’ Roll came to the forefront as the popular dance music while jazz largely went the direction of be-bop and was performed more in concert and club settings than in dance halls.

Abigail: Can you explain more about where music was headed from then through the 1940’s?

Glenn: Around this time the “old testament” Basie band disbanded due to lack of work, while Ellington continued on a shoestring through the 1940’s.  Almost every other big band from the swing era had dissolved by the mid 1940’s.  In the 50’s when Basie reformed, his band, Buddy Rich’s, Ellington’s and other newer bands were touring around and mostly playing festivals and concerts rather than in the big dance halls that were around in the swing era.  The music of the 1930’s and 1940’s seemed old fashioned to 1950’s and 1960’s audiences, and the new music being performed by the big bands had a more modern style, largely intended for listening in a concert setting.

Abigail: How has your knowledge of Lindy Hop impacted your musical choices?

Glenn:  As a long time dancer myself (I’ve been at it over a decade) it feels like a square peg in a round hole if I try to dance the lindy hop to music that is from outside the Swing Era – it feels as off to me as if I tried dancing it to Lady Gaga.  One of the things that really inspired me to start a band is that I wanted to give my fellow dancers more opportunities to dance to the music that has a natural fit with the dance with the hopes that it would inspire them to new heights in their dancing and would help them to feel as amazing as it makes me feel to swing out to a tune that just has THAT swing.

Abigail: Tom Cunningham described you as “a real zealot for the authentic approach with his music.”  In what ways do you set up your band to be “authentic”?

Glenn: Well, our book of tunes, as mentioned above, is a big part of that.  I also like to work with musicians that really focus on the older music and that really make a conscious effort to play in a way that is stylistic. Another thing that we do is that we try to minimize the use of electronics.  In the 1930’s, the capacity to mic every instrumentalist on stage didn’t exist, and stage monitors didn’t come around until the early 1960’s.  Would the musicians have used this stuff in the swing era if they had had it?  I would venture to say they would have.  Would they have ended up making the same music that they did?  I would say probably not.  What you hear affects what you play.  It’s actually a particular interest of mine – the way that both electronic and acoustic technology affected performance practice in jazz.  I’m searching for a research grant in the next few years to write a book about it.

Abigail: Congrats, that sounds like an excellent project. To go a little further in understanding the mechanics, why do some bands choose to use monitors?

Glenn:  I chose not to use monitors, but some bands like to; there are advantages to using monitors.  You can have the bass or the piano blowing at you as loud as they want if you have a monitor – you can have a different blend for the band coming through every monitor for what each player wants to hear.  If the bass and guitar are amplified, it’s already elevated the stage volume in an unnatural way and that means that you start needing monitors to raise the stage volume of the other instruments.  You can also make it so you can hear yourself louder if you’re not a very loud player.  Monitors are a great way to assist weaker players, as well, who need to hear the changes really well in order to keep from getting lost or for a drummer that plays so loud that he can’t hear the rest of the band.

I choose to avoid using monitors because I feel that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.  I actually used them when the band first started, but my regular musicians really disliked them and encouraged me to get rid of them. They were right.

Abigail: How do monitors affect the band’s dynamic?

Glenn:  Having monitors makes it easy for players to play along with the speakers instead of playing with the ensemble.  This can make an ensemble’s time drag. Monitors significantly raise the stage volume and often can make it harder to hear anything.  It makes instruments like drums – who typically don’t have their own instrument coming through the monitors play louder. It makes instruments like trumpets or reeds who typically want to hear themselves coming through the monitors play softer.  While the microphone can make up for the softer instrument by amplifying it more in main speakers, the sound of a trumpet played loudly is far different from the sound of a trumpet played softly.  A soft gentle trumpet solo when we need to kick the band up to a higher level of energy on a final chorus doesn’t get the job done – even if you can hear it over the band because the mic made it louder.  Basically they ruin the natural stage balance.

Abigail: What other downsides are there to using monitors?

Glenn:  Monitors can also suck the energy right out of a band.  Ever been to a rock concert where it was so loud that it just made you tired?  That’s kind of what it’s like to stand in front of monitor for 3 hours.  Now combine that with how exhausting it is to be PLAYING a show in the first place!

My philosophy is to keep bass amps, keyboards, and guitar amps off the stage, and then to just to hire players that don’t need a crutch.  I think most bands would sound better if they took the monitors off stage because they’d have to get rid of all the players that couldn’t cut it without them.

Abigail: My favorite moment at DCLX 2011 was when we, crowding the dance floor, heard the shout of “DIXIELAND BAND?!?!” from the stage and you surprised the audience with a banjo and sousaphone.  How did you prepare for that moment?

Glenn: That decision was a spur of the moment thing.  It was just inspired by the energy of going back and forth with another great band.  I was trying to decide what we’d do next and Jason suggested we do a Dixieland chorus.  It was a great idea and the audience loved it.  Not only was it a surprise, but reaching back to an earlier style of jazz really showcased our band’s range of abilities – other than two or three tunes from earlier in the night, most of the music we played that evening was from the mid to late 1930’s and early 1940’s.  It was a nice way to showcase that my players are wonderful hot jazz musicians in addition to being great swing musicians.  The audience response was really awesome, you can hear during the previous chorus on the video when people start cheering as the sousaphone comes out from behind the piano.  It was a special moment.  Who knows what we’ll come up with this year!

Abigail: I can’t wait.  On that note, how is preparing for a band battle different from a regular gig for you?

Glenn:  I don’t think too much about battling.  I have a lot of faith that my players will do great things in the moment.  I write all the charts just the way I would for any other big band show – each new song I add to the book takes anywhere from 4-15 hours from start to finish – for this year’s DCLX I spent around 80-100 hours preparing the music.  It’s an unconventional approach to do all this work myself instead of just buying stock arrangements or transcriptions, but it’s part of my commitment to putting on a great show.  It’s my job to entertain the dancers whether there is another band or not.  If the dancers have fun, both bands win.

Abigail: As a bandleader, what do you find are the most important things that you look for when hiring musicians?  How did you come by the group who will be at DCLX 2012?

Glenn:  Well I’ve got a regular core of players that I hire around the country, but I’m always looking for outstanding players.  Bria, Meschiya, Jason, Craig, Mike, Solomon, Patrick, and Ken will all be back from last year. This year we’ve added Lucian Cobb on trombone, who is a great player and a bandleader as well as Dan Levinson on lead alto who is a world-renowned reedman.

My criteria for hiring musicians are pretty simple.  Can they play the book?  Do they know the style?  Are they reliable?  Are they fun to listen to, watch, and be on stage with?  Do they inspire the other musicians and the audience?

I’m really proud and excited to work with such wonderful musicians again this year and to play big band music for dancers.  Because of the economics of hiring a big band full of first class professional musicians, we only get to perform these charts a few times a year.  Most jazz musicians will tell you that big band music from the 20’s and 30’s is some of the toughest stuff to perform, so my players are really pumped at the rare opportunity to play these tunes with other equally-talented colleagues who can, collectively, bring the excitement and energy that you’d have heard them played with when swing was king!

Abigail: We look forward to hearing you April 21, 2012 in the Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom! I have no doubt we will be impressed by the musicianship and the energy of both your talented Blue Rhythm Band and Tom Cunningham’s Orchestra.

Why My Home is AWESOME

Moving back to North Carolina, to a city 45 minutes from where I grew up, was not something I imagined I would do before I was ready to “settle down.”  However, getting into the excellent MFA in Creative Writing Program at UNCG accelerated my return to one of the best states in the US.

One of the things I love about being here is that I can walk to my favorite coffee shop (just 5 minutes away): TATE STREET COFFEE.  Wait. It gets better.

Every Thursday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning, there is LIVE JAZZ.  Fun live jazz.  Since UNCG has a prestigious Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program, both instructors and students jam on Thursdays.  However, since that night is when Adam and I usually go to Durham, we go on Sunday mornings and hear the gypsy jazz stylings of the Hot Club of North Carolina.  The floor is linoleum and dusty, perfect for sliding, and the band is funny and kind–playing mostly Django songs in addition to other standards.

I love it here.

PS–Thanks to Zev and Jen (Scricco) Barnett for the tunic dress!

What Happens When Swing DJs Stay Up Late on Facebook

As a swing DJ, this pretty much takes the cake for geeking out.  Great people, great DJs, impossible puns. My heaven…my blue heaven. Unfortunately, perhaps because of our awesomeness or complete contempt for puns, Facebook deleted the post.  Here’s as far as I got in saving it before it disappeared. Michael Gamble and Allen Kerr weighed in later, so perhaps they can add in the comments section…

UPDATE: Either Facebook worked again or I obviously don’t understand how to read my profile.

Abigail Status Update: “Good morning heartache, what’s new?”

Breanna: It’s not morning yet, silly! Go back to bed and try again later.

Abigail: hahaha 😀 Miss you so much, darling.

Breanna: I miss you too! So come up this-a-way.

Abigail: I might, just to DUKE it out with Yossef.,

Yossef: You can COUNT on it.

Abigail: Excellent. I’ll bring my BILLIE club.

Breanna: I’m gonna lock doors just so you both have to JIMMIE them.

Abigail: I’ll have to make my ARMSTRONG.

Breanna: Maybe Yossef will be a GOODMAN and hold them open for you.

Yossef: Rather than fight, let’s have a relaxing stroll through a TEAGARDEN.

Abigail: And walk through CLOUDS OF JOY?

Abigail: Or through some rolling GLENNS?

Breanna: Passing through trellises full of IVIE?

Abigail: Good thing I’m on HOLIDAY.

Abigail: What a fantastic WEBB of puns.

Yossef: I just want to find a HOT CLUB where we can sit down and enjoy a snack, maybe a JELLY ROLL.

Breanna: I’m DIZZY with giddyness about all these puns!

Abigail: We could pick up a CHICK or two.

Abigail: MILES to go before we sleep.

Yossef: If it’s too far, we could take a CAB.

Breanna: I’m not sure I can CONDONe such behavior.

Abigail: I’m not looking to eat too many transFATS.

Abigail: Maybe we’ll get LUCKY.

Yossef: I’m seem to do fine with the fatty foods. Maybe it’s my GENEs.

Abigail: I’m jealous. I tend to get the KRUPA.

Yossef: Does that come from food? I thought that was more of weather-based phenomenon, and it is kind of chilly still. You’d better bring a JACQUET.

Abigail: I need to buy a new one. I’m not as SLIM as I used to be.

Yossef: Maybe you can get by with a nice SHAWl.

Abigail: Maybe if I hold a TEDDY close, I’ll be warm enough.

Yossef: Don’t KID yourself.

Abigail: STUFF it.

Abigail: LES just forget about it.

Yossef: I don’t think I can GARNER any more.

Abigail: You’re just RUSHING away from me.

Yossef: I’m just getting tired, and I want to go to bed and cuddle with my BERIGAN.

Abigail: Alright, BUD. If you must.

Yossef: I’m sorry I couldn’t HACKETT.

Abigail: You’re a FREEMAN. Do as you will

Rob: Oh, these puns. The misery. I’m just going to sit right down and WALLER in it.

Rob: Seriously, I don’t know why you all are doing this. You’re just deBASIEng yourselves.

Abigail: Aw, Rob, You’re being a LIL’ HARDIN on us.

Rob: I hafta. These puns make me want to kick, scream ORYell.

Abigail: Please don’t SLAM the door.

Abigail: At least be CHRISTIAN about it.

Michael: I don’t believe that you guys wanna quit before I even get here. If you’ll all just stop LIONEL keep it going a bit longer.

Allen: For SHAW. Do your best to GRAPPELLI with the situation.

Yossef: This sure is a DJANGOod time.

Abigail: As to Rob, WILLIE stay, and continue to EDDIE the WATTERS?