Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stefan and Bethany

I am really enjoying Stefan Durham and Bethany Powell's dancing right now. Their dancing isn't exactly what I want to aspire to technique wise, but they've got their own thing going on. And that is inspiring.

They're coming up with some creative stuff that's fun to watch.  Check out their performance at Lonestar this past year:

I've been itching to dance the past couple of days, but after watching this performance, that itch has gotten more intense.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Do you remember, folks, when I told you briefly about my buddy Shane's band Kalispell? Well, he finally released his full-length album Westbound a little over a week ago. I hitched a ride to Eau Claire so that I could be there for the CD release show and am extremely glad I did. We Are the Willows and The Daredevil Christopher Wright opened, which that in-and-of-itself would have been a good line up. But the final build up came from seeing Shane finally perform all his great tunes from the album, start to finish, with a full band. The stage was sometimes packed with the likes of violins, upright bass, steel guitar, drums, and even a cello; and sometimes the stage slimmed down to simply Shane and one other on stage. And it was good. His old-time infused Americana-folk is the kind of stuff I love.

My favorite on the album so far is probably track 2, Methodist Lift. How can you go wrong with a song that starts with the twanging of a banjo? And I really dig the lyric: "The church taught me how to hold a grudge, My brother taught me how to let it go, He learned from his father, and We learned from our fathers. Isn't that the way it's supposed to go?" And if you're not sold yet, you can download my second favorite track, Lucky a Hundred Times, for free

Give him a listen. Give him a try. Then go see him in town near you!

Jonas David

If you like S. Carey or Bon Iver at all, I think you're going to love Jonas David. Jonas David hails from Germany and is a musical gem. Very ethereal folk tunes with poetic lyrics. Please take the time to give this guy a listen. Please.
Or watch:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sam Amidon

Folks, Sam Amidon has done it again! He has made a master piece of an album that I'm sure too many people will never know about (though I hope I'm wrong).

Back in 2008, Amidon released the album "All is Well." This album has been standard in my collection, with Amidon's almost mumbly voice, soft strings, and overall authentic folk sound. It is a beautifully constructed album.

This year, Sam Amidon gives to us another great album "I See the Sign." Once again, Amidon sings with his standard mumbly voice, gives us a traditional folk sound fused with a new artistic twist. I haven't finished listening to the album yet, but I can tell you that I'm excited to hear it all and to listen to it over and over again.

Also, if you live in the Twin Cities, he's coming to town soon. He will be playing at the Walker Art Center on March 22 & 23. It will be a show worth checking out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Aaron Espe "Songs From a Small Town"

I've simply fallen in love with Aaron Espe's album "Songs From a Small Town" (link to free download). He is an artist that was recommended to me by a friend a few years ago, though I never really looked into him then. Recently, I was perusing NoiseTrade (a site where all the music is available for free download) and saw the album there, remembered his name, and decided to give him a chance. Best choice I've made in a musical while.

The album starts off with "Small Town," a tune about the simplicity and small pleasures of living in a small town. His singing is story-telling. It's basic but heartfelt, just like a small town.

This next song "Change" is more mellow in tone. It is about not being able to accomplish quite what you want, how things sometimes just don't work out, and how that can sometimes defeat a person. It's an honest assessment of life, and Espe's voice and soft guitar chords give it credibility.

The pinnacle of the album is the second-to-last track "Faith and Doubt." Espe's Christian background comes out most clearly through this honestly emotive tune. The song rises and falls with strong guitar chords, but also with surges of emotions of wanting to believe and descents into soft hues of confession of doubt and unknowing.

Throughout the entirety of the album, where Mr. Espe rises above other folky singer-songwriters is in his honesty. He never shares too much, but he shares enough where one can identify and feel exactly what he is singing about. His gentle honesty has won me over. Maybe it will win you over too.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Some Jazz Favorites

I realized that I post a lot about dancing and a lot about current music, but rarely do I post anything about jazz music. This isn't a well-thought out post, but I figured it was about time that I shared with you some great jazz.

First and foremost, I'm nuts about Sidney Bechet and Skeets Tolbert (free downloads).

Mr. Bechet with my favorite rendition of "Summertime":

Skeets Tolbert (Alice and Thomas are dancing to "Hit That Jive Jack"):

Duke Ellington "East Saint Louis Toddle-oo":

Fletcher Henderson:

Well, gotta run. Too much blogging and not enough of doing what I really ought to be doing.

O Boy, O Balboa!

Remember when I posted a day or so ago and told you that I haven't been that inspired by Lindy Hop? Well, in the past day I've come across a few balboa videos, with the help of my friend Becca, that have got me ITCHING to dance.

This one makes me weak in the knees. I love how both Kelly and Bobby play with the music, especially around 1:00. Noises shot forth form my lips at that moment to express my awe.

I also really love this little ditty of Nelle Cherry and Nick Williams from Lindy Focus this year. Can I just say that I really love Nelle's enthusiasm for the dance? Watching her dance is like watching joy in motion, as her smile says it all. Somebody once made the criticism of saying she gives away her flaws in competitions because she laughs so easily at them. Well, maybe so, but dancing isn't always meant to be perfect, and when you can laugh at and enjoy even your flaws in a dance, even more so in a competition, that speaks of only good things. Anyways, check out the video:

I really want to dance now.

Friday, January 6, 2012

They Just Get To Me

I feel like I've been a blogging fool this past day. All my dancing and music thoughts have been pent up or something.
Anyways, I wanted to share some songs with you that are getting to me. Making me listen to them over and over because there is something more there that just gets to my very fiber.

1. Jeremy Messersmith's "Love You to Pieces"

2. We Are the Willows "A Family. A Tree."

3. Feist "Caught a Long Wind"

4. Dark Dark Dark "Wild Go"

Kasey Rogers

I heard about Kasey Rogers because he's played with my pal John Davey. For some reason, John knows how to pick some great musicians to play shows with (other examples: Bro. Stephen, Moor Hound), including Mr. Rogers (bah! I didn't even intend to make that joke). 

Kasey Rogers is of the country-folk variety, but his voice almost sounds as though he should be in a pop-punk band. He sings out his songs with heart-felt energy, to the point where he is at times just belting out the words. It is great folk, but it's also pop-y, in the sense that his tunes have a tendency to put you in a feel good mood. Oh, and the guy plays the banjo. Definitely a plus in my books. 

Check out his video:

And here he is playing with John Davey:

So, there are no free downloads from this guy, but you can purchase his EP on i-Tunes. (Do it!)

"You've Been Found Wanting"

Recently, I've lost a bit of my enthusiasm for lindy hop. Why? Well, after watching a slew of videos tonight and not being terribly impressed by any of them, I think I may have realized part of the reason.

These are some of the videos I watched:
Swinglandia Jack & Jill Final 2010
Dax and Sarah
Max and Natasha
Dax and Sarah ESDC 2011

Well, I think that I haven't been terribly impressed or inspired because it seems as though people aren't really dancing to the music or that they're trying too hard to dance to the music. It feels a little bit artificial or forced. Too many "moves" and not enough dancing. What I mean by that, is that I've seen a lot of dancing that is "good" or takes practice and effort, but recently I feel as though I haven't seen a lot of dancing that is the result of loving the music and the feeling and embracing that dance for what it is. Because, ultimately, those are the dances that are the most inspiring. The kind of dances that the goal is to be in the moment and to embrace the spirit of lindy hop, not where the goal is to dance lindy hop well.

I think that this video of Frida is inspiring. She appears to be taking each moment as it comes and really dancing.

I think I need to remember my own criticisms for my own dancing. Since starting to compete, I have a harder time not just enjoying each dance for what it is. I focus on my mistakes, what I'm not doing well. Maybe I need to re-learn what it is to really love lindy hop. Maybe I just need to dance.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

No Touch Lindy

Crazy! This video is off a No-Touch Lindy competition at Lindy Focus this year. I could not take my eyes off the pair on the left. They seemed to work together well and even were quite creative in the process.

Looks like a challenge. I wonder if learning to read each others body language for this competition helps with their overall partner dancing skills? Or, as follows, does it just make it easier to second guess and/or back lead?

Adelyn Rose

Eau Claire, Wisconsin is best known for it's local legend Bon Iver (Justin Vernon), but it's also home to a whole slew of musicians, many of which you may not have heard of.

One of these bands, Adelyn Rose, just released their single "Never Get Tired" from their upcoming album release Mezzanine due out in March. After seeing these folks play shows and switch up their sound in the past year and get better with time, I'm eager to find out what the full length will sound like. But alas, the single will have to do for now (plus it's a free download from Bandcamp, along with other free downloads from their previous work). Check it out: