Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dark, Dark, Dark

I live in a wonderful city (Minneapolis) where there is a rich artistic culture that thrives. This includes the local music scene. So many great musicians and musical admirers that call this city their home and thus help this rich musical culture thrive. With that all being said, I'm continually surprised by the amount of people who still have not yet heard of the local band Dark, Dark, Dark.

This band invokes a darker mood, though not grim.They have a sound similar to Beirut, as they utilize an orchestral sound, but that is also distinct from Beirut. Where Beirut often sounds like they are taking influences from the circus or carnival, Dark, Dark, Dark sounds like they are using influences from Eastern Europe. A darker, melancholy, Eastern European, orchestral sound.

My own experience with Dark, Dark, Dark started with brief exposure to as they were played on The Current. Then I downloaded one of their Daytrotter sessions, which I highly recommend. But the thing that did me in about them was when I saw them perform for The Walker's Music and Movies in the Park. They were commissioned to write and perform a live score to go along with the 1938 silent German film SPIES. The following video is part of that live score and is of one of the greatest live music experiences I've ever experienced (though you must forgive it, as the sound quality is not the greatest).

Oh, and you can find a free download of their single "Daydreaming" over at Bandcamp!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Months of Music

I haven't blogged in a long time, and then about a month ago, my computer died. And you know what the best thing about that is? That was the time that I wanted to blog the most. But I am a lucky girl and now have a temporary computer replacement. I really should be looking up a bus schedule right now, but first I want desperately to share with you some music that I've been digging on the past few months. Ready for it? Set. GO!

Jeremiah Nelson: Saw this guy open up for We Are the Willows. Liked him then, but his music is the kind that grew on me more and more as time went on. So listen to him, but let yourself listen through more than once. If you're anything like me, after about the fifth time you've listened to the album, you will be pumped to pass it along to your friends.

The Milk Carton Kids: I work at this really great cafe in Minneapolis where I have the chance to experience some really great up and coming musicians, and these guys were one of the best gems I've gotten to see there yet. These two guys are out of Los Angeles and are super nice fellas. Their tunes have a nice, mellow Ryan Adams feel to them and they sound just as great live as they do on their album. Their two albums are free on their website, and they also have a really great Daytrotter session, all of which are worth checking out and downloading. Then, if you get a chance, you should find out if they will be coming to your town on tour and see and meet them for yourself. Really, everything about these guys is worth it.

Kalispell: This is a friend's band, but I really am excited about their music. These guys will make something of themselves if they keep with it. Their folky tunes are the type that make you close your eyes and let your body gently sway as you sink deeper into a reminiscent mood. Listen to the following tune to understand what I mean if you don't already:

Their EP, Last Year, is also available to listen to on Bandcamp! And if you are in the Midwest and get a chance to see a show, you should go.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Reasons for Blogging

When I tell people that I have a blog about Lindy Hop and "Indie" music, one of the more common responses from friends and acquaintances is a groan of, "Oh no, not you too."
And then there are the expectations that those people and the other bloggers have: if you are going to have yet another blog on dancing or music, you better be damn good at articulating what you mean and know what you're talking about.

Since the above happens and since I've been lazy with this blog this past summer, I thought I would leave a post here about why I even started this blog in the first place.
So here I go. I started this blog because:
-I didn't want to be the annoying girl on facebook who posted videos all day long and crowded everybody's news feed. What I want to share with people is mostly contained to this site, so you can easily choose to read it or ignore it.
-I get really excited about the music that I like at any given moment and I wish that more people knew about it. So I this is an outlet to share my music finds with more people who may not know about them.
-There were too many times I would ask people if they had seen such-and-such video, blog, or website and then I would try to remember to send them a link to it. Whether or not I remember to individually send you the link, this blog provides the source to many of the videos or sites that I may have made reference to in a conversation.
-I selfishly wanted an outlet for all the thoughts and ideas that often raced through my mind about music and dancing. It is a means of processing for my own purposes.

My reasons are listed above. And note that these reasons don't include the statements, "because I'm a good writer" or "because I'm an expert on this." Because neither of those statements would be true. I'm not a great writer and I don't always know what I'm talking about. But I'm open to criticism, input, and new ideas. Share your thoughts with me, help me to write a better blog, and share your finds with me too. This kind of input only adds to ultimate goal of this blog: to share with others Indie Rock and Lindy Hop finds.

Monday, August 29, 2011

ILHC 2011

Just like so many other Lindy Hoppers, I eagerly awaited and then watched the new batch of ILHC videos. Today I literally sat if front of my computer, clutched my hands to my chest, and squealed in delight over various YouTube clips. For those of you who know me, you know that I'm not exaggerating.

To start: It's official. Alice Mei is my favorite dancer. After watching this clip, I don't think I could love her dancing anymore than I do now. The girl dances because she loves it. Not just because there is some judge watching or because she is trying to please the crowd, but because of the sheer joy of it. The way she smiles when she dances makes me think that it can be no other way.

Maybe I'm just incredibly partial to her dancing right now, but I also think that her Jack and Jill Spotlight with Peter Strom is adorable. Not to mention the height difference between these two is amusing.

Next: The Champions Strictly Finals was so much fun to watch. And I definitely still love Jo Hoffberg's dancing. Check out her and Kevin's spotlight starting at 7:00 that ends with them....(watch the video to find out).

I'm antsy for more of the videos to go up!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Feist is Back!

It's been ages (4 years) since Feist's last release, The Reminder (2007). But now she's back with some new material and will be releasing a new record call Metals on Oct. 4!

Make sure to check out her website, as it contains some great vignettes. And you can pre-order the new album there if you so please.

Here is the new single "How Come You Never Go There"

How Come You Never Go There by Feist

Ahem...Cat Power now we're waiting for you. 

The Big Apple

Gosh, this video of the Big Apple contest from ILHC 2008 made my day.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jenny Lewis

It's been a Jenny Lewis kind of week.

Run Devil Run & The Big Guns:

You Are What You Love:

Monday, July 25, 2011

"The Hop" Radio Citizen

Friday evening I found myself moving slowly through traffic, with my windows down, and this song was playing on the Current. It is the perfect song for a warm (and muggy) summer day.  This is one of those songs that I thought was so great to have as a new find, only to find out its been around for years. And I must say, I don't know much about this band or song, but I am hooked.

"The Hop" by Radio Citizen feat. Bajka

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yellow Ostrich

This song, Campaign, has been stuck in my head all night.

Trying to look up this song, I found out that Yellow Ostrich recently signed on with Barsuk Records. This means that the album The Mistress will actually be re-released with 3 bonus songs and it will be made into hard copy (ahem, CDs). How exciting for them! Currently, you can find some older tunes for free download over at Bandcamp, but that's it. Sorry, you'll have to wait for The Mistress to be re-released on August 16th to get those tunes.

Yellow Ostrich was originally started as a solo project by Alex Schaaf (the one in the middle in the picture). Fun fact: he is from Wisconsin. Feel the pseudo-local pride. After his temporary free release of The Mistress on Bandcamp, he later joined forces with Jon Natchez (bass, horns, vocals) and Michael Tapper (drums, vocals).

If you get a chance, you really ought to check out their Take Away Show. I've watched this video many many times and I'm continually impressed at how great this music turns out live. Their performance over at Big Ugly Yellow Couch is also worth checking out.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sufjan Stevens "Sister Winter"

Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis
Here in Minneapolis, people are crazy about riding their bicycles. I have recently discovered why, as I now ride my bike to work. But much like dancing and music, I could try to tell you in words why it is wonderful, but my words will never suffice to describe the feelings.

Anyway, this post is not about biking, but about music. Late last night, as I finished my shift at my beloved workplace, I hopped upon my bike for the ride home. The air was heavy with humidity and the city skyline was partially hidden by a humid haze. The city was quiet and forward movement of riding my bicycle created a nice breeze. And the song that was playing on my iPod fit that moment and the way I felt.

That song was Sufjan's "Sister Winter" from Songs for Christmas. It may not be Christmas time, but the ambiance of the song was perfect for that moment.

This song is almost cinematic. It starts with the soft chords of the piano and the sounds of violin join in soon after, as Sufjan softly sings along to echo the same delicate sentiments. But as the song moves on it builds into a hopeful and promising energy. It was a beautiful song to start my bike ride home in my wonderful city of Minneapolis.

If you like this tune, you can find a free download, along with a few more from Sufjan, here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Indie Meets Lindy...Again

I was just introduced to this music video for Slow Club's song Two Cousins. This is Slow Club's newest single for their upcoming album release. "Two Cousins" can be found on iTunes, but you will have to wait a little bit longer to find the full album.
The duo, Rebecca and Charles from the UK, has been around since 2007 creating "folk rock" tunes. I would have to argue that this new single of theirs does not sound anything like folk or rock, but rather more indie-pop/hip-hop inspired.

Anyways, the video for "Two Cousins" showcases lindy hoppers Ryan Francois and Remy Kouame as they pay homage to Al Minns and Leon James.

I really enjoyed this clip. There is discussion (and some whining) over at Yehoodi about how the dancing does not go with the music very well, which to a degree is true. I much prefer Dogpossum's viewpoints on the matter (please go read her analysis of the video). This video reminds me of montage clips within movies: the scene is edited to give snippets of both big and small picture focal points while a song plays in the background that may not match the action, but rather the emotion, of what we are witnessing. In essence, I don't think the dancing needs to be synched up to the music, as the music provides an emotional backdrop for which we can feel and understand the movement of the dance. Often when I think about lindy hop and charleston, I think about the energy and joy that comes from them, but this video and its editing did a good job of capturing the attitude of the dance I love so much.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just "Kick, Push"

I haven't posted here in what feels like forever, with good reason: no free time. I have been working like a crazy (70+ hrs/wk), which has been good to my bank accounts, but not so good to my social/dance/music listening life. This week has been unusually rough as I have not only been working at my two current jobs but also helping out with some of the details for Twin Cities Balboa Festival this weekend.
(By the way: you should probably come. And please dance with me all night long, as its been far too long since I've gotten in a good amount of dancing.)
As I have been working away on Google Docs, it has been Lupe Fiasco's song about skateboarding that has been getting me through. To make it through this week, all I've got to do is just "kick, push, kick, push."

The original video can be found here.

For all of you out there who are just trying to make it through and keep going , I hope this song is as good to you as it has been to me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Twin Cities Balboa Festival

So, I found out from work that I cannot take both the weekend for The Rhythm is Jumpin' and for Twin Cities Balboa Festival off. As I am already committed to helping with TC Bal, I will be going to this event and not to TRIJ. But, after watching such an amazing video as this next one, who could complain?

So TCBal, here I come! And for the rest of you: come dance with me!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

J. Tillman

I may not love Fleet Foxes, but I sure do love Fleet Foxes' drummer J. Tillman. He has a deeper, sort of raspy, yet very rich voice that he pairs with mellow, low key folky tunes. His music is dynamic but not overdone. Thelonious Monk once said, “Trying to explain music is like trying to dance architecture” That's how I feel about his music. I will never be able to explain it just right, you simply have to listen. And really, you must, because it is that good.

My favorite song of his:

Free downloads can be found here!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You Really Ought to Know

You really ought to know about The Daredevil Christopher Wright.

I've heard about these guys before, but never really thought much about them until I had the chance to see them as an opening band for We Are the Willows EP release show. After they played, the thought kept echoing through my brain, "How is it that more people don't know about these guys?!?" Mostly, they run along the lines of indie pop-rock/folk with a singer/songwriter influence. They provided so much energy where it was due, but also knew how to respect the melancholy. And after listening to some of their recorded stuff (which is good), I would have to suggest that they were even better live and have probably only gotten better with time.

While trying to find out more information about these guys, I came across the interview they did with Relevant Magazine back from 2009 when they released their first full-length album In Deference to a Broken Back.  In this interview, band member Jon Sunde says, "Whenever you do something that you’re passionate about, there’s a large degree of frustration and questioning—all these kinds of these things—and there’s been that, too." So true. I don't really feel that way about music, but I feel that way about dancing. I love it, but there are moments when I can be frustrated with myself or with others. It either burns you out or pushes you back to the real reason of why you love it. Anywho, back to the topic at hand...

Daredevil Christopher Wright - The Animal of Choice from PeerValidated on Vimeo.

They will be releasing a new full length album sometime in the next year. Click here to hear one of their new tunes called "A Man of the Arts" (it's a mellow one that is lyrically rich). Until you can get your hands on the new stuff, you can check out their two Daytrotter sessions (here and here) and a free Christmas download.
Or feel free to straight up buy their record or EP. I'm sure they would appreciate that.

Mates of State

I think that you should give Mates of State a listen if you haven't already.  This husband and wife indie pop duo has become a standard in my musical collection. There is something meaningful, yet cryptic about their lyrics that are delivered forth with heartfelt pop energy and "shifting rhythms." Kori, the wife, is on the piano/synthesizer/electric piano/organ and occasionally the guitar; Jason, the husband, does drums and percussion. And the two of them together combine their voices to sing us their tunes.

They are best known for their songs the The Re-Arranger and My Only Offer (link to free download) from their 2008 release Re:Arrange Us. In June of 2010 they released a covers album entitled Crushes (The Covers Mixtape)...so if you're into covers, check it out. On September 13th, they will be coming out with more original tunes on an album called Mountaintops.

Not only are they doing all of this and touring too...they do it with two little girls in tow! It's hard for me to fathom what kind of energy it would take to be doing all that they do with the kind of energy that they have. Kudos to them.

If you're not sold just yet, go ahead and download their Daytrotter session and give them a try. During the last track "These Days" you can even hear their kids, which is adorable.

With all that being said, one of my favorite tracks is called Blue and Gold Print and it's been "treating me right":

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jobs and What That Means for Dancing

Not that many of you readers actually care about my personal life, but here's an update:
I graduated from college on May 14th (yippee!), only to realize that I was jobless. I remained jobless for three weeks until I signed on with a temp agency and found a 2 month full-time position that pays pretty well verifying information over the phone. Not my first choice, but hey, a job is a job and I am grateful.

Then...Do you remember my post about Patty and the Buttons? They play on a weekly basis at this great place called Aster Cafe. Aster provides more than great jazz, as they have great food, great ambiance, and the workers are fantastic. Last Friday I found out that I might have a chance to get a job there, Saturday I submitted my resume, and on Sunday I was hired and started my first shift. I am pumped about getting this job!

But here is the downside: I am now working both a full-time job that I have committed to working until the end of July and I have this gig at Aster...and all this work means much less dancing. I started on Sunday, it is now Wednesday night, and I can already feel the "must dance itch." So much so, that my legs just had to Charleston in the break room, hoping that nobody would walk past.

Here are my worries:
Photo by Ben Hejkal
  • I've made progress in the past few weeks, especially from all the great feedback from Peter Strom and Stacia Martin at Uptown Swing, and I'm afraid I might lose that progress and then some.
  • Will I be able to reach my goal of learning the Tranky Doo in the next month?
  • When will I be able to dance next? Next week feels like eons away, let alone a month.
  • Will my employers let me have the time off to get to The Rhythm is Jumpin and Twin Cities Balboa Festival? Will I be able to dance well at these events if I don't get practice time on the dance floor before? (I made a goal for myself last summer to start competing more, even if just to get the experience. Well, I made progress this past spring while I was at Heartland Swing Festival and I would like to keep on going with that progress.)
  • I would like to go to ILHC this August and to Herrang next summer, but both are so expensive. As it seems now, my only chances to really dance this summer are at a few events, such as The Rhythm is Jumpin (and remember, I'm itchin' to dance and compete). Do I spend the money on a number of smaller dance events or try to save my money for ILHC and Herrang in the future? Anybody want to sponsor me? If I had time, I would offer to clean your house, but sadly I don't.

My outlook is this: I can't guarantee much about the future, but I can make the most of my time. I think I'm going to try to download a YouTube video of the Tranky Doo onto my iPod and utilize the time I have during my lunch break (thank you Jon Tigert for continuing to inspire me). It may not be lots of dancing, but hey, it's a start!

And readers, feel free to comment/reflect/discuss and follow this blog! I want to know what you like and don't like about the blog or the new ideas you bring to the table. You're feedback is welcome...even from those of you in Denmark!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Local MN Music

I love living in Minneapolis and having the chance to be amidst such a great music scene! I was thinking about all the great bands coming out of MN, and I realized there are far more than I thought.

Let's see, we have:
  1. Haley Bonar 
  2. Jeremy Messersmith
  3. We Are the Willows
  4. Roma Di Luna
  5. Dark, Dark, Dark
  6. Communist Daughter 
  7. Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles
  8. Low
  9. Minor Kingdom
  10. Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps
  11. The entire crew over at Doomtree (Dessa, Cecil Otter, P.O.S.)
  12. The Floorbirds
  13. Trampled By Turtles
  14. Mason Jennings
  15. Charlie Parr
  16. Peter Wolf Crier (for those of you who know me, yes I will include these guys)
  17. Tapes 'n Tapes
  18. Retribution Gospel Choir
On the dance side of things, we also have some great jazz ensembles to get our dance on to:
Southside Aces
  1. Patty and the Buttons
  2. Twin Cities Hot Club
  3. Southside Aces
    • These fellas just released their latest CD this past Thursday (6/9)!
  4. Davina and the Vagabonds
 Okay, okay...who did I forget?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Alice Mei

Jo Hoffberg, you better watch out, cause sometimes I think that Alice Mei might just replace you as my favorite dancer. When I watch videos of her dancing, it always looks like she's having so much fun and finding ways to be playful with it (which is also why I love Jo's dancing). And there is something about her movement that I really enjoy too. We each have our own set of moves (per say) that we love to do or naturally do when we dance, and I think that Alice's look really cute.

The video that I've most recently come across that I like of her's is this one:

Or this one:

Also, when I watch this one, I can't help but think of DogPossum's post about hot male bodies and how males in competition will sometimes focus more on competing with each other than on focusing on the female they are dancing with. (Feel free to clarify if I summed that up incorrectly.) Notice how Dax and Thomas engage, compete, and feed off each other's energy. And all the while, Alice looks so freakin' adorable dancing like she does.

Also, I think it's interesting that I came across this video the day after I posted about how Alice and Dax now consists of two new dancing pairs (Alice & Thomas and Dax & Sarah) that dance very similarily. It could very well do with the fact that they are all in the Ninjammerz (including Max, who also makes an appearance in this video). It's interesting to watch their interactions on the dance floor with one another and how it pretty much ends with Dax and Alice's former ULHC 2007 routine.

Also: (super random, but) notice how Dax seems to like dancing with girls with stockings.
We have Takumi Itoh, Sarah Breck, and Alice Mei (so he's not dancing with her in this one, but being as they were dance partners it sort of counts).

Okay and one more, because Alice is so freakin' adorable:

So readers: who is your favorite dancer and why?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dancing Brain Dump

Like I said before, this week I've been really busy. I started a full-time job, danced as much as I could, and said good-bye to one of my best friends as her and her husband begin their nomad journey.

In the process, I've neglected this blog. But that doesn't mean that I've stopped thinking about dancing and music...but it does mean that I haven't thought through most of my thoughts. But nonetheless, I want to share with you some of the things that have caught my attention or resurfaced on my radar.

First: I am really enjoying the posts over at It's The Way That You Do It.
Highlights include:
- Getting better takes practice
- Great look into the progression of "Why Don't You Do Right"
- I can relate to his frustrations here and here.

Second: Re-found a video of Dax and Sarah thought I thought was quite cute. But then it made me realize that Dax and Alice both dance with their new partners the same way they danced with each other. Check it:

Dax and Sarah (Swinglandia 2010)

Dax and Alice (ALHC 2008)

(small insignificant note: I really enjoy the move that happens around 1:32ish)

Alice and Thomas (ILHC 2010)

It's not a bad thing, but I just think it is so interesting how each half of the first partner pair (Dax and Alice) made 2 new partner pairs that dance quite similarly.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Current Playlist

I've been so busy this week, but I thought I would share with you some tunes that have been good to me this week:

1. "Vengeance is Sleeping" Neko Case

2. "Red Eagle" Paul Duncan

3. "Baby Bones" Laura Stevenson & the Cans

4. "Hot as Day" Wye Oak

Sorry that this is the best I can do in a week, but I gotta hurry up so I can get some dancing in!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sharon Van Etten

Want to be soothed and hypnotized by some great music? Then you should listen to Sharon Van Etten. I heard her first single "Save Yourself" a while back, but it is her song "Like a Diamond" (link to free download) that has done me in. Her mellow, low key vocals are soothing, but the piano cords and soft drum rhythms create one to be drawn in and hypnotized.

The lyric, "I don't really know why but I have this sense I'm not feeling, like a diamond." is repeated many times throughout the song, which is okay. I think that many of us can relate Sharon's sentiment, that sometimes we just feel hard and unaffected by life.

Like A Diamond sung by Sharon Van Etten by western.vinyl

If you like what you hear, you should check out her sophomore release Epic. Read what the folks at Pitchfork have to say about it (plus, there is a free download of her song "Love More"!).


As many of you may know, but many of you may not, indie music has an awesome resource of a website called Daytrotter. This site offers free downloads of live recording sessions of so many bands and artists. It's a great way to discover new music or to simply find live recordings of some of your favorite artists.

The Daytrotter studio is unique, in that it is located in Rock Island, IL. This small midwestern town is basically in the middle of nothing, much less a thriving music scene of its own. But because of its location near the highway and Mississippi, many bands traveling through the area will make a stop at this small town simply for the sake of connecting and recording with Daytrotter.

There is actually an documentary in the works, called Welcome to Daytrotter, about their story and what has happened since their start in 2006. I recommend checking out their site.
And here is the trailer for the film:

If you want to know more, you can read what the folks at IndieMuse wrote or you can check out Daytrotter's About tab.

Elizabeth & The Catapult

For a good chunk of my day, I've had Elizabeth & The Catapult's song "Go Away My Lover" stuck in my head. The rhythm that the guitar, drums, and clapping kicks out sucks you into the song, but the lyrics and smooth vocals are catchy and stay with you even after the song is finished. Click (here) for a free download of the song!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Horse Feathers is Coming to Town!

Remember when I told you about Horse Feathers and how great they are and how much I like them? Well, guess what? For those of you in the Twin Cities area, you can find out for yourselves how great this wonderful folk group is because they are coming to town!

They will be performing at First Ave's 7th St. Entry on June 23rd. Here is the link. Tickets are $12 and worth every penny. I'm telling you, you should go.

If you're not in the Twin Cities area, click (here) to see if they will be coming to a location near you.

Can't wait to listen to them until then? Well, you are in luck. Check out their homemade video for Curs in the Weeds:

Hopefully, I will see you at the show!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Indie Meets Lindy

My friend just sent me an e-mail asking if I had ever seen this video. I had not, but I'm glad I have now.

The Weepies "Be My Honeypie" music video features the lindy hoppers Evita Arce and Nathan Bugh. Check it out:

Isn't this so great and adorable? I love how indie music and lindy hop can come together sometimes.

Summer Tunes

Summer is finally upon us. Up here in Minnesota, we've had a long, hard winter with a spring that barely showed itself. But today there was finally humidity in the air and while that may not seem like a good thing for long, today it felt like the promise of summer and its warm temperatures.

So, to celebrate, I thought I would share a short list of my quintessential summer tunes.

1. "With Arms Outstretched" Rilo Kiley
One of the lines from the chorus screams summer to me: "now some days, they last longer than others but this day by the lake went too fast." I really enjoy the song as a whole lyrically. It makes me think of days where you just drive because you can or of summer flings that arise out of the spirit of summer. All in all, this is my number one summer song.

2. "First Time High (of Chicago Accoustic Version)" Of Montreal
I don't usually like this band, but this accoustic version has been a favorite of mine, especially during summer. This song makes me think of all the spontaneity, adventure, and playfulness that summer brings. It also captures the feeling of having a summertime crush. This is definitely my number two summer song.

These two songs will forever be my summer songs. Some other great tunes for summer include:

3. "You" Gold Panda:
Great for driving down the freeway with the windows open on a warm summer night.

4. "Daisy" Karine Polwart:
I love listening to this on mornings when I've actually gotten up early to go to garage sales.

5. "Fools" The Dodos:
An energetic song about being laid back, which is the paradox that is often my summer: energetic laziness.

What kinds of songs make it to your summer playlists? Please share some of your favorites!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Balboa Joy

There are so many videos from ILHC this past year that I have yet to watch. Only today did I really even begin watching the balboa jack and jill videos, and I'm sad that I didn't know about these gems sooner.

Adam Speen and Mia Goldsmith (1st)

Bobby White and Heather Ballew (2nd)

Patrick Szmidt and Nelle Cherry (3rd)

They made me joyfully happy. Maybe they won't create that kind of response from you, but I hope that you least enjoy them!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Balboa/Top Drawer/TC Bal Fest

I really love lindy hop and charleston, but I also really love balboa. I wish there were more people out there (especially leads) who knew how to dance it. The feeling of dancing balboa is different, but oh-so-good. Sure, it isn't as flashy as lindy-hop/charleston, but you must admit by watching Top Drawer's routine (Nick Williams & Marie Mattsson, Jeremy Otth & Laura Keat, Bobby White & Kate Hedin) that it looks classy.

Watching this makes me really excited to go to Twin Cities Balboa Festival this summer (July 8-10th). I went last summer and had a great time! I met so many great people and had so many great dances. The instructors were so helpful, encouraging, sweet, and fun. I can't wait to take more classes with Bobby and Kate again.

P.S. Thanks to all of the great leads who joyfully danced with me that weekend even though I was in the beginner stage of balboa. Marty Visconti, Reed Miller, and Jeff: I'm talking to you. Ya'll made that event one of my favorites thus far in my dance life. Plus, I got to enjoy the company of one of the best bowling teams around that weekend! Thanks Jeff and Patti, Annie, and Lori for letting to good times roll. :)
Hopefully, I'll see you all again in July!

And for the rest of you: you should come too!

Just Dance

Here he is dancing with Carla Heiney.
I am very much a curious person about people I know or have heard about. I like to know about their lives and find out what they like and who they are. My whole point in telling you about this is that facebook suggested I should be friends with Jon Tigert, whom I have met but don't really know. But my curiosity kicked in and started perusing his page and found the link to his website, which led me to his blog, which I then read. 

One of his posts was about how to get better at dancing and I very much agree with what he had to say. You can read the post for yourself here. If you're too lazy to do that, here is my quick synopsis of the post: you can get better at dancing when you learn to dance by (and may I suggest, for) yourself.

Jon writes, "So you are wondering how you can become a better dancer, even if you don't have a partner, or you can't afford classes.
Get off your butt, stop reading blogs and watching videos, put in your earbuds and just dance."

Just dance. Amen to that!


Typically my favorites are folk or folk inspired (as if you couldn't tell by now), but I definitely have a pop and punk rock history that still influences me. For instance, the song that I have been listening to repeatedly today has been "Colours" by Grouplove. So good.

Something else I've noticed about my musical tastes is that I like abnormal voices. The lead singer, Christian Zucconi's voice is almost strained and whiny, and I love it. Also, part of the reason I'm hooked on this song is due to the stuttering part in the beginning, which wouldn't be as addicting if it weren't for his abnormal voice.

Currently, the group only has a self-titled EP out, but a full-length album is due out in September. Their first single from the full length, "Itchin on a Photograph" will be available in the U.S. on June 21st.

Also, shout out to The Current for introducing me to this band and many others. I'm glad I live in Minneapolis where there is such a great artistic scene with a great radio station to match.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles

I'm surprised that more people, especially in the Twin Cities area, don't know about Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. They are a local gem that more people really ought to know about.

There is something old timey, yet fresh and new about their music. Rhythms that are clapped and stomped out, mixed with sounds cello, upright bass, accordion, and ukele, mixed with Lucy's one-of-a-kind vocal stylings blend together to form this unique band that plays with an almost nonchalant energy.

What's worse, Lucy is so nice. Met her once while out dancing to Patty and the Buttons and she was so sweet and amiable.

Anyways, my whole point is this. You should probably at least know about Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. Good music and good people. Can't go wrong with that.

Also, if you like jazz, you should check out Lucy's side project, a duo (though sometimes more) simply called Lucy and Charlie. They perform a wide array of covers, from Ella Fitzgerald to the Beatles. I got to see them perform almost by accident at Aster Cafe and was quite impressed. She puts soul behind her singing and will make a sad song even sadder, but in a good way. They don't play many shows, but if you get a chance to see this jazz duo, it's worth your time and money. Plus, their Myspace recordings do not do them any justice, so seeing them live is definitely the way to go.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Wilderness of Manitoba "Summer Fires"

I really am a sucker for just about anything with a banjo or mandolin. On the song "Summer Fires," the Ontario based band The Wilderness of Manitoba utilizes the sound of banjo along with male/female voice harmonizing to create a great modern folk sound. The introductory guitar part almost makes me believe that the song could have been a rock song, but then the banjo joins in and the music swells, opening up to the vocal part causing one to know that this is folk. Even so, I feel as though there are elements of classic rock influences placing its fingerprints on this song. Take a listen for yourself.


For Minnesota local music fans, you might like to know that they are currently touring with Cloud Cult. You can see their tour dates here.

Also: in looking up information about these guys, I came across another Canada based band called Evening Hymns. I am really digging their stuff. It's mellow and folky, with a touch of rock. Check them out for yourselves.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good Lindy Hop Reads

I'm sure that many of you already know about these blogs, but for those of you don't, I just wanted to pass my knowledge on. Here are three that I've been reading most recently.

Wandering and Pondering
(he also has a facebook page where he posts more frequently)

Swungover by Bobby White

Nick William's Blog
There's not much here, but enough to give some insight.

Small Town Heroes

Like I've mentioned before, I've gotten to be acquainted with much of the music coming out of Lafayette, Indiana, due to a good friend of mine. One of the bands that she has shared with me is SmallTown Heroes. After knowing about them for over a year, I finally purchased their CD Lo, The Hard Times.

It's definitely country folk record, which I love. Mandolin, guitars, harmonica, fiddle, and tales of cowboys complete the aura of country folk. All of the voices on the record take a little getting used to, or at least they did for me. The main guy's voice is bit more gruff than I'm used to and Bethany's voice has a lot of vibrato. In the end, I don't think either is a bad thing, it's just that it takes getting used to.

I also really enjoy what they say about themselves:
"SmallTown Heroes is not a band, we are friends who play music. We laugh with each other, we cry for each other, we live our lives and our faith together. I never wanted to be in a "Christian" band, I always hated the idea of running around and singing to people how great it was to be a Christian, and how happy we are all the time, or raising ourselves up as some sort of example to follow. But as time wears on and we all change I start to realize that I don't have to be anyone I don't want to be. In fact we should all strive to be better than we are but know who we are so we do not become over inflated. SmallTown Heroes celebrates life, generally it's the more difficult parts and it doesn't always feel like a celebration, but every party needs a pooper and that's where our music comes in. Take it or leave it, but we hope you take it."

All in all, I think the record is completely worth it, if only for the song "Sad Songs." It's the song that really did it for me.

Artist Dolan Geiman

Usually I write about music or lindy hop, but there are times when I really appreciate other art forms as well. During the summer of 2009, either at the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts or the Uptown Art Fair, I came across the artist Dolan Geiman. Can I just say I really enjoy his work? Cause I do.

Dolan with some of his pieces.
This one is my favorite.

You can read more about the man himself (here) or where he gets his inspiration (here).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Haley Bonar "The Size of Planets"

Tonight is the kind of night for some old school Haley.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Automatic Associations

When I hear certain songs, I automatically think of certain moves. Mostly because I've watched a certain YouTube clip a thousand times and it's simply reflex to think 'this move to that part' of the music.

For instance, whenever I hear "Communication" by Slim Gaillard, I see Jo's feet doing the piano part starting at about 2:00.

Or whenever "Hit That Jive, Jack" gets played, I almost always end up slapping my leg (ex: 0:14).
Can you tell that I've watched this video a ton? I've only posted it three times now.

 Or whenever I hear "Gang Busters" by Slim and Slam, I think of this:

I'm sure there are more songs that create automatic associations in my brain, but you get the gist of what I'm saying. 

Maybe this is another reason why my friend doesn't like watching dancing clips (referring to this post)? By having these automatic associations to the music, I'm prevented from letting my body simply dance out the music. Instead, I've created for myself mini routines.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced this? Is it good/bad/neutral to have these automatic associations to certain songs? Let me know what you think.

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I haven't listened to these guys in-depth but I like them. They've become my background music in the past few days and they have served their purpose well. They have a mellow, folky, yet slightly dark feel. All of their albums are free on Bandcamp, so you've got nothing to lose. 

Here is the stream of their entire album After the Warmth:

This track, "Feverhead," caught my attention by its lyric "I will hold out my arms graciously and blind."

If you end up listening to them in-depth and form an opinion, you should share it with us all.