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!