This is why I don’t post off the cuff that often, because I forgot a whole section of thoughts I wanted to include in my last post. I talked about why DJ’s can and have to play lots of unfamiliar stuff.* Simply because if they don’t then everyone stagnates. The dancing, the music, your breath, your mom's breath etc. However, I've come to realize that it’s easy to forget that most people that come to a dance very rarely listen to this music outside of the dance floor. Many don’t listen to it at all. The few that do probably just have those well worn hits that they really like, and they get excited to dance to those same tunes when good dance partners are around.
I DJ'd for for my friend Gretta Thorn's (Now Gretta Thorn Stone) wedding a few weeks ago. She's one of the founding members of The Jam Cellar. And even though there were a good amount of dancers there, she wanted to keep the rest of the guests comfortable, so me and my DJ'ing partner for the evening, Luke Albao ended up playing the the wedding party greatest hits for the night. That's the reason why the last song appears on the playlist below. We had a lot of fun strategizing how to get from "Twist and Shout" to "Celebration" while working in a Madonna song in there. We thought people might think we were being too cliche, but they were having too much fun to notice. At the end of the night Nina Gilkenson told me that she hadn't danced that hard in a long long time. This coming from a woman who gets flown out to a big dance event every other weekend. This got me to thinking about why those songs are popular and also about Lindy Hop's own hit parade.
I’ve been on a live soul music kick lately and I finally picked up “Sam Cooke Live at The Harlem Square Club” after I heard Peter Strom spin “Having a Party” from this it at ILHC last year. I had such a great dance to that song that it’s part of my personal Lindy highlights from last year. I don’t know why it took me so long to get it since it’s honestly one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. From any music genre. It’s that good.
From start to finish, Sam Cooke bleeds out energy and passion into the microphone. If you didn’t already believe that this smooth crooner was the man who created Soul music, then there's no way to deny it after hearing these recordings.
Benny Powell passed away this weekend just at a time when I’ve been considering the concept of humility quite a bit lately. Benny played trombone for Count Basie through much of the New Testament period of that orchestra. I had the pleasure of meeting him while working on Frankie95 last year. He was one of the more prolific musicians during the weekend. He co-led the band for Frankie’s memorial service. Then the next night my man just showed up to play when he didn't have to. He confused the heck out of everyone because we thought he just got his nights mixed up since he was scheduled to play with Wycliff Gordon and Art Baron on Monday night. But he heard of the three big bands playing on Saturday, and just wanted to be there.
The thing I love about DCLX (DC Lindy Exchange) is that it’s the kind of event that attracts dancers that appreciate quality live music. So much so that musicians that leave it all on the stage get treated like rock gods. Writing about live music is very hard thing because in the end you have hear it to feel it. I can talk about the Boilermakers burning up their version of “Avalon” or Jonathan Stout & His Campus Five featuring Hilary Alexander (say that three times real fast) cranking the crowd up to a near riot with “Dark Eyes” or the Blue Vipers of Brooklyn breaking everyone’s heart with “Bringing it on Home to Me,” but that’s why events like DCLX exist; to give people a way to connect to something that they can’t otherwise experience.
Sometimes it takes me a little while to piece things together. A few months ago I attended a presentation of jazz film clips. One of them was Jammin’ the Bluesfeaturing an all star list of musicians such as Sid Catlett, Jo Jones, Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet and a host of others. I hadn’t seen the whole thing in such a long time that it wasn’t until that night that I realized that I knew who the vocalist and dancer was.
The knock on Solomon over the years has been that his bands could be very inconsistent. This was usually due to having an inconsistent line up of musicians from gig to gig. He would typically travel alone and recruit local musicians from each city. Often times first meeting, rehearsing and playing with them all in one day.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the use of pre-planned choreographed sequences in social dance contests for awhile now. (Yehoodi, Lindybloggers, and White Heat) Event directors Nina Gilkenson, Tena, and Sylvia shared those same concerns. At the same time, they didn’t want to tell the dancers how they should dance . . . even though they really wanted to.
I like dancing. I like it even more with great live music. This was a fun weekend for that here in DC. Actually, more like Glen Echo Park in Maryland. The Boilermaker Jazz Band played the Bumper Car Pavilion on Friday night while The Tom Cunningham Orchestra held its monthly dance in the Spanish Ballroom on Saturday evening. It was a beautiful Friday night for the Boilermakers. Donna Barker and Mike Marcotte hosted Paul Cosentino on clarinet and saxophone, Rich Strong on drums, Mark Kotishion on piano, and Ernest McCarty on bass with Jenny Luvv singing.