Big Band Revival at Lindy Focus: 2017, Jimmie Lunceford; 2016, Chick Webb – – Keepin’ it Real!
Why the Lindy Focus Big Band Revival is important. It’s been said that any music not played live is bound to die. To participate in the Chick Webb and Jimmie Lunceford campaigns was really a no brainer for Mike and Mary/the Hepcats. The Lindy Focus Big Band Revival campaign is one of the best things we’ve seen come out of the swing dance community. For more info on that, see the info below.
2017: Jimmie Lunceford.
For Lindy Focus 2017, Mike & Mary were proud to sponsor two of the songs for the Jimmie Lunceford Project, a project that transcribed c. 30 songs from the Jimmie Luceford library for live performances, the first which was at Lindy Focus on Friday night, Dec. 29th, 2017.
Mike & Mary – Report on Lindy Focus (LF) 2017.
Much of our report for LF 2017 is similar to the 2016 event (see below). We attended for two days/nights, Dec. 29th & 30th. The Dec. 29th and Dec. 30th nightly dances featured the music of Jimmie Lunceford and Chick Webb, respectively. As with the 2016 event, the music for both dances we attended in 2017 was truly exceptional. The musicians at Lindy Focus did a great job playing the songs in the right style, and at the correct tempo (and maintaining the correct tempo throughout the entire song). What a treat it was to dance, and listen, to the great swing music of the big band swing-era (instead of the “mayonnaise & white bread” stuff you get from most “big bands” that play these days – the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra an exception!).
For Balboa dancers, Lindy Focus could easily be called “Balboa Focus” when it comes to great music for Balboa. (I just wish DJ’s in this area would play the music of the great big bands like Lunceford, Webb, etc…..at swing dances).
For those that couldn’t attend LF 2017, here is the link to the You Tube page for the live streams:
o Dec. 29th, 2017, Jimmie Lunceford night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNqXwuLZbqU.
o Dec. 30th, 2017: Chick Webb night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67MEsEKTRL0.
For the Dec. 30th event – a Jam Circle broke out for the song “Clap Hands, Here Comes Charley”; Mike & Mary were in the jam circle, starting at about time mark 1:58:30…
A note about LF for both 2016 and 2017. A lot of people attend LF, and the dance floor is usually very crowded. There are a high number of beginner level dancers (which is good!), but overall floor craft is not that good. You’ll get bumped a lot, even when dancing Balboa (and maybe even kicked), so you have to be aware of that on the dance floor. Other than that, no real complaints about LF.
In closing, if you get a chance to attend the LF event in the future, do so – especially if LF continues to feature swing-era big band music for the nightly dances!
2016: Chick Webb.
Mike & Mary were proud to sponsor two of the songs for the Chick Webb Project, a project that transcribed c. 31 songs from the Chick Webb library for live performances, the first which was at Lindy Focus on Thursday night, Dec. 29th, 2016. Click here for more info.
Mike & Mary – Report on Lindy Focus (LF) 2016.
What is Lindy Focus (LF)? As many of you know, LF is an annual event that takes place in Asheville, NC the week between Christmas and New Years. In addition to workshop classes, competitions and other activities, a definite highlight of the event for 2016 was five nights of swing-era big band music that featured the music of Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Chick Webb and Benny Goodman. Due to family obligations, the 2016 event (Dec. 27-31, 2016) was the first chance we had to attend LF – and we picked a good year!
LF 2016. We attended for two days/nights, Dec. 29th & 30th. The Dec. 29th and Dec. 30th nightly dances featured the music of Chick Webb and Benny Goodman, respectively. The music for both dances was truly exceptional. The musicians at Lindy Focus did a great job playing the songs in the right style, and at the correct tempo (and maintaining the correct tempo throughout the entire song). What a treat it was to dance, and listen, to the great swing music of the big band swing-era (instead of the “mayonnaise & white bread” stuff you get from most “big bands” that play these days).
And for those that couldn’t attend the event, here is a link to a You Tube page for the live stream for the Dec. 29th, 2016 Chick Webb night dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV2M7i8pGl4.
Why the Lindy Focus Big Band Revival is important – – Keepin’ it Real!
Why do Mike & Mary sponsor songs for the Lindy Focus Big Band Revival campaigns? There are a couple of areas Mike & Mary are particularly proud of as far as our accomplishments and contributions to the Lindy Hop / Balboa swing dance community: the music and the dance.
1. The Music. Mike & Mary started swing dancing in 1999 and early on we were generally not satisfied with the music that was played at a lot of swing dances. Neo swing music, “mayonnaise and white bread” swing music, and lots of other non-swing music played at those events left a lot to be desired.
Mike and Mary wanted to dance to the original music of the swing-era, particularly the great big bands such as Benny Goodman, Jimmie Lunceford, Chick Webb, Artie Shaw, Count Basie, etc…. This doesn’t mean that all the DJ’s and bands we danced to and that every song that was played was “bad”, but the bottom line is that the vast majority of those DJ’s and bands didn’t play authentic, swing-era swing music. (In some ways and for some scenes the situation hasn’t changed much, but that’s a different discussion.)
2. Keeping it real! One of the main reasons Mike and Mary/the Hepcats started the Big Band Swing Dance collaborations in 2005 with University of Kentucky (UK) School of Music faculty members Dick Domek and Miles Osland (with the music provided by the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra (KJRO) and/or the UK Jazz Ensemble (UKJE)) was to bring back to Lexington the original, hard swinging big band music of the 1930’s and 40’s for dancers and non dancers alike to enjoy. (Click here for more info on these Hepcats/UK School of Music collaborations.)
The Lindy Focus Big Band Revival campaign is one of the best things we’ve seen come out of the swing dance community. Let’s face it, there can be a lot of drama, silliness, bad dancing, bad music, and immature and inappropriate behavior in the swing dance community…. the Lindy Focus Big Band Revival campaign is something Mike and Mary are proud to be associated with, and we put our money where our mouth is. Let’s hope that Lindy Focus can continue with additional future projects and highlight the music and songs of other deserving big band leaders.
3. The Dance. For Mike & Mary, it’s all about the original swing dances (and music) of the 1930’s & 40’s big band swing era: Lindy Hop, Balboa and Collegiate Shag. We strive to maintain a high standard for teaching those dances, and a high standard for the music, and have never strayed to teach something that was “popular at the moment”, but not really swing dancing, i.e. what is sometimes called “blues dancing”, “electro swing music”, etc…
Through our classes, workshops, leadership, and example, we’ve helped to develop some very competent swing dancers, some that have competed at the regional and national level; formed several performance groups that also competed regionally and nationally; and inspired countless others to commence the journey that is Lindy Hop and Balboa.
To summarize – we try to do our part in Keepin’ it real!