Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Evolution of Lindy Hop

The more I learn about the history of lindy hop (and the jazz that went with it), the more I love it. And not just the puppy dog kind of love, but the kind of love that says "I know where you've come from and I want to stick with you forever."
Two of the ways that I've learned more about it's history is by reading Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop and watching Ken Burn's documentary on Jazz. Both are musts for the lindy hop fanatic.

I'm so glad I took the time to soak in the history, but if you don't have the time, you can catch a glimmer of it by watching these two videos.

1. Clips of lindy hop throughout history:

2. Andrew Thigpen and Karen Turman's 2010 ILHC Showcase:

And read Wandering and Pondering's blog post about this performance (it's half way down the post). It will make you appreciate it all the more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Study Music

I am finishing up my senior year of college right now. Praise the Lord it's almost done. Along with this, I thought I would post a quick list of my favorite music to listen to while studying. Then after I finish, hopefully I will commence the actual studying.

1. "All is Well" by Sam Amidon
My great friend Heather first introduced me to this album back in 2008 and it has since gotten me through many a stressful night. The horns and strings combine so richly and smoothly, swirling together beautifully with Sam's almost mumbly voice. It is the type of album that works well as background music or as music to play in the quiet moments when you are stressed and need to hear the intricacies and depths of great music

2. "All We Grow" by S. Carey
This man, also a member of Bon Iver, created one very soothing and ambient album. This has been my recent album of choice to listen to while sitting at the local coffee shop and needing to tune out the world in order to focus. If you want a better album review, read what Robin Hilton at NPR had to say.

3. "LeO" by Haley Bonar
This is Haley's third homemade EP and it's mostly instrumental and ambient. Because there are very few lyrics throughout the entire thing, rarely am I distracted by trying to figure the lyric out or singing along. Not only is it a great album to study to, it's also the right kind of relaxing to start and end your day with.

4. "Civilian" by Wye Oak
I cannot honestly say much about this album because I just purchased it tonight (thanks to Amazon's daily album deals). I have listened to the the title track "Civilian" (free download) multiple times. This song is great because it has energy but isn't so dynamic that it becomes distracting. From my initial listen of the rest of the album, this is how it seems as a whole. Which is why I will be listening to it tonight as I try to muster my way through the last of my senior year. If you want a better review, check out what Max Blau wrote for Paste Magazine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sidney Bechet meet Cat Power

Sidney Bechet's version of "Salty Dog."
(Link to free Sidney Bechet downloads, including Salty Dog, here. Thank you public domain!)


Cat Power's version of "Salty Dog":

Thanks to my friend Bradley who originally told me about Salty Dog, Cat Power's version, and what it means.
For clarification's sake: just because I know what it means does not imply that I support such things.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


When I first starting watching video clips of dancers at the beginning of my dancing days, Frida was no where near my radar. Later on, when I finally witnessed some of the videos of her, I thought her dancing looked a bit awkward. Now, I think I really appreciate her dancing. I think that a big reason for this goes back to what I said about dancing like yourself. Frida dances like Frida. She's different and unique, and I like that.

Here is a social dance clip that I'm really enjoying from her and Skye lately:

Another reason why I like this video: when the dance is done, Frida acknowledges the band and Skye before she ever takes a bow for herself. Humility is an admirable thing.

Chris Bathgate

I love the type of people who love what they do so much that they will work incredibly hard and make sacrifices just so they can do that very thing. Chris Bathgate is one of them. I recently downloaded his song "No Silver" (free download) and have been putting it on repeat over and over. From the sounds of his rumbly voice to the washboard to the mandolin, each give this song such a down-to-earth yet full and rich sound.

What's more, read about how this song came to be (found on MOKB):
[I] wrote this song…after a dinner of homemade biscuits. Flour, butter, and milk were the only things I had left in the house to eat. I had gotten home with the gas light on, driving without insurance (which means your license gets taken away in MI if you get caught), dead broke, not knowing how I was going to get the gas to get to work in the morning. I was getting paid that Friday, and every cent of it was going to my studio bill. It was the first of many moments of total financial collapse during “the salt year.” I think I sang it out of joyful fear, I was gonna make my studio bill, but nothing else. At the time that was enough.
I used to get this fear when I ran out of money, as if my heart would stop, as if I was coming closer to death. I got over this fear real quick, I didn’t have a choice. This past CMJ (2010), I had enough money to make it there, but not enough to make it back. I went, and lasted until the Monday after (I had a post-CMJ show at The Delancey, a free one). I put my last 4 bucks on a metrocard, and went to Central Park. There, I played fiddle tunes (on mandolin) for 8 hours straight, and made 128 bucks in quarters, nickels, and dimes. My left hand was wretched that night, and the following morning when I drove home. I had 2 bucks left when I got back to Michigan…after gas and tolls. This is typically how close to the edge I have to operate as a musician. I eat biscuits, and people all over the world send me nice messages, explaining how much they love my music. When I was recording this song, that hopeless excited feeling came back. I dumped a few cracked cymbals on the floor of Jim Roll’s studio and started smashing away a kick drum, and a washboard. I wanted No Silver to sound broke, broken and exhilarated.

If that doesn't inspire you, listen to the song yourself:

 His new album Salt Year, which will include "No Silver," comes out April 26th.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

La Blogotheque and Foglight Films

If you're a fan of watching music videos, you need to watch something from La Blogotheque and from Foglight Films. Please...pretty please.

La Blogotheque:

This video of Local Natives made me positively giddy and joyful.
You know great musicians when their live music is as good or better than their recorded material. Local Natives fits this qualification. As for the song, I love how slowly more and more members/instruments joined together to crescendo then nicely dissipate into merely their voices.  I'm smitten.

This video of Sigur Ros is the one that originally introduced me to La Blogotheque and the Take Away Shows.

Foglight Films:
Well, Foglight Films is on Vimeo and I cannot post videos from Vimeo on this blog. So, please click on the link for the song title to see the videos. I recommend the Common Prayer "Us vs. Them", The Walkmen "Woe is Me", and Ida "Willow Tree."

After watching this version of "Us vs. Them" by Common Prayer, I'd have to say that I much prefer it to the recorded version. There is something about his voice here that is greater...I'm not sure if its raspier or clearer or what. Overall, (in my opinion) it's just better.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Social Dancing Clips

One afternoon I was talking with a friend about dancing and the topic of watching YouTube clips came up. He said that he would watch clips of routines, but he didn't like the idea of watching clips of social dancing. If I understood him right, he didn't like watching them because he thought it took away from your own personal dancing...that in watching social dancing clips, part of the art of dancing is lost. Or that that dance was supposed to happen in that moment and watching a clip of it will never do that moment justice.

I think I feel the opposite, that in watching social dancing clips, it's like dancing at the Savoy and learning new moves from other dancers for your own social dancing. Plus, one of the reasons I love being a follow in the social dance realm is the never really knowing what's coming next. By watching social dance clips, you get to see that excitement and spur of the moment playfulness in someone else's dancing. (Although I will agree that a watching a video of a social dance will never match the moment in which it actually happened.)

What do you think about watching social dance clips?

Here are some of my favorite social dancing clips:

Dax Hock and Sarah Breck:

Thomas Blacharz and Alice Mei: (I've already posted this one, but I really enjoy it)

Nick Williams and Sylvia Sykes (balboa):

Monday, April 11, 2011

Young Magic

I've only just started listening to Young Magic this past weekend, but I can already tell you that I'm excited to hear more. He refers to his genre as "zouk" on his Myspace page, but he definitely has an "electronic with a beat" feel to him (I feel kind of foolish trying to describe his sound, so if you come up with something better...please do!).
I found his song "Sparkly" through Urban Outfitter's blog postings Free Music Mondays (link to free download). Sadly, he only has one other song out at this time, but you can check out his Bandcamp page for both of his tunes.

If you would like to know a bit more about him, you can read his SXSW interview with Spinner.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fleet Foxes and J Mascis

Fleet Foxes:
Since first hearing about Fleet Foxes in the summer of 2008, I have decided that I don't really like them. I'm not opposed, but they're something I just don't want to listen to on my own. No matter how many people think that I would love them since they have a folky sound...I just don't. Sorry.

But recently I have come to really enjoy their new single "Helplessness Blues" (free download from Spinner). I don't know what the change was muscially that made me like this song compared to the rest of their songs. What I can tell you is that I really love the first verse:

"I was raised up believin'
I was somehow unique
like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes
unique in each way you can see

And now after some thinkin'
I'd say I'd rather be
a functioning cog in some great machinery
serving something beyond me."

 J Mascis:
Since first listening to J Mascis on the Current, I have really enjoyed his sound. You may also know him from the band Dinosaur Jr. He has a mellow, mostly acoustic, sort-of country/folk sound to him, and his voice has a manly whiny twang to it that I just eat up. I must admit, he looks nothing like I envisioned him by the sound of his voice, but I think that I like him more because of it. Music isn't about's about music, and this man does a good job at creating it. You may know him more from his song "Not Enough" (free download from Spinner), but I'm really diggin' "Is It Done" (another free download from Spinner).

Side note: I did not intentionally do this, but both these artists are actually with Sub Pop Records.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Charleston Happiness

A friend sent me a link to one of the videos in this series, and I ended up watching a whole slew of them. It is dance joy to me (not to mention entertaining and humorous).

Herrang (watching this video makes me want to go to Herrang now more than ever before):



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Indiana Boys

It's been a week and a half since my last music post and I've been thinking about what I should share next. I haven't been fixated on any one artist or song this week but have had my music on shuffle lots. So, I have struggled about what I wanted to share.

Then I came across this video posted by John Davey. Maybe I love this video because I now know some of the these guys, but I think that you can appreciate it too. And make sure to watch the whole thing because the end will be worth it.

Boys will always be boys.

These are some of the guys from Indiana (or are connected to the guys from Indiana) in the video worth checking out:
Arts and Sciences
John Davey
Kasey Rogers
Other musicians in this video: Dustin Sendejas, Mike Pace, Kirk Donley. Am I forgetting anyone?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What is Good Dancing Anyway?

I start this post by stating up front that I'm no expert. I feel as though I have been around and submerged myself into lindy culture and history enough to make an opinion, but in no way do I feel that my opinion is the end-all-be-all. Therefore, I want to encourage others to join in and add to this conversation.

Certain people hold very strict standards about what lindy-hop should be and look like, and I think I'm struggling with that way of thinking. If you have been around long enough, then you know about the distinction between what lindy-hop was in the late 90s/early 2000s and that of what it is now. I know that body-rolls and other favored moves of the time are now a faux-paux. That doesn't even begin to touch the distinction between  the "Savoy" and "Hollywood" styles and the opinions that people have about these.

I'm not concerned about the particulars of the above subject matter. My thoughts wander more into the realm of: Isn't dance, including lindy-hop, meant to be an art form? Once one learns how to lead or follow, should there really be a right and wrong way to dance? In the world of lindy-hop, I admit that I have opinions about what looks like better dancing and what dance styles I prefer, but does that make other dance styles worse off? The more I think about it, I would have to say no to both questions.

Here is what another lindy blogger has written on a similar topic.

What do you think?