Nothing can start a weekend off well like a night of dancing Balboa, a dance that originated in Souther California during the 1920s and 1930s, in Philadelphia. This dance takes place every 3rd Friday of each month in center city Philadelphia and brings together dancers from the area and visitors from neighboring states!
Princeton Jazz Festival brought the sounds and swing of jazz to Palmer Square for an afternoon of blues tunes, family, friends as well as tasty eats from local area restaurants. The lindy hop and swing dancers from NJ, Philly, and New York made sure to come on down for a dance or two to the likes of The Fins and Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks!
Whenever I listened to Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child", "I'll Be Seeing You" or the dozens of jazz songs she has recorded, I could not help but wonder what stories and feelings prompted her to sing. Audra McDonald brings these stories and feelings to life in a one woman cabaret show of Billie Holiday's last performance at "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." As Lady Day, she says, "Singing is a feeling and you can't sing without a feeling, can't feel without singing." As a guest at Emerson's, I neither could help but want to sing along to "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" as Lady Day and her band played on, nor could I ignore feelings of pain, anguish and regret that is the subtext for tunes like "Strange Fruit."
As the announcement promises, your evening at is one filled with personal tales of difficult choices, bad breaks, worse men and some of the most glorious songs ever written, including "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit," and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness." It's an intimate evening, up close with a legend. So pull up a chair and order up a drink because she's got a life to sing."
If you are itching for a music filled film, head over and see the James Brown movie "Get On Up." When I was younger, mornings (weekends included) were reserved for playing James Brown. My father insisted that from 7 am it would be much easier to "wake up" with Brown's help. That being said, despite knowing most of the music from the CDs we had on reply, a box set, I knew very little of his childhood and rise to fame.
I am happy to announce that my first single is now available on iTunes and other marketplaces! Thank you to the team at Downtown Artists, Alice Mary Williamson, Nathan Mansfield, Tom E Run, Lior Seker, Asi Ayalon, Yaron Rosenblum and Tom Kenric who collaborated in this project.
The single is also available on Amazon MP3, Google Play, Xbox Music, Sony Music Unlimited, and Rhapsody. Coming soon to Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, eMusic, simfy, Myspace, medianet, WiMP, Gracenote, 7digital, and Guvera.
Joined with Tom E Run, I had the pleasure of welcoming new and old friends to the Timberyard's newer venue in the Seven Dials for a cafe-style cabaret featuring my original tunes "16 on 25" and "Quiet Violence" along with several classic jazz and popular tunes sung between stories of growing up in the US and living in London.
"16 on 25" will be available on iTunes and other music outlets in August!
First day of Herräng...
If there is a United Nations of Lindy Hop, it is most likely the Herräng Dance Camp which takes over much of this adorable Swedish town for near 7 weeks beginning in July. As many folks come in and out of the camp for a varied length of time, one is always guaranteed nights of dance to swing, boogie woogie and blues, connecting with old and new friends and enjoying that time away from daily distractions!
As an entertainer, Herrang is also a place to experiment and connect with new musicians and artists. I had the pleasure of playing with Mr. Pam (Pontus) and Friends, jam with musicians from all over the world til 7 am on most days and give solo performances in the weekly Cabaret and Tribute to the Beatles' shows!
Dusted off the gramophones, rallied the band and toasted to St. Germain, Michael Aranella and his Dreamland Orchestra set the tone of a Gatsby-like party on Governor's Island! Fully stocked with flappers, charleston jivers and folks from the 19 teens, the day culminated with a Charleston competition to the live sounds of the orchestra!
The next one is in mid-August!
Stay tuned: http://www.jazzagelawnparty.com
Check it out here:
With over 2000 people from 47 countries, the Frankie Manning centennial honoured the life of Frankie Manning with a record line up of swing bands and lindy hoppers. Kicking off the weekend with a live swing band dance party in Central Park, the weekend was filled with dances, stories and reunions galore culminating with a parade and dance on the grounds in Harlem where the hallowed halls of Lindy Hop (The Savoy) once stood. For me, it was a reunion of lindy hoppers from Berlin to London, Geneva to Madrid and up and down the Eastern seaboard and introduction to many of the legends of swing still dancing like Dawn Hampton, Norma Miller and a few others away and giving us young ones lessons in lindy...
With no shortage of lindy and swing dance events this weekend, Empire City Swing welcomed Skye and Frida for a slew of workshops and several dances, including Saturday Night's at "Dance With Me SoHO" to the stylings of Dance to the Music of Dan Levinson's Swing Wing!
The Yotel Terrace welcomed The Blue Vipers, a slew of old and new swing and lindyhoppers from Astoria to Australia counting down the days to the Frankie Manning Centennial and curious passerbys to enjoy classic jazz tunes despite the weather! The Salon continues to offer an afterwork dance party every month or so! Photo: Odysseus Bailer and Corina Kwami
On May 4, I joined the legends of DC Cabaret who kick off Washington, DC's first, and only, weekly spoken word/musical theatre cabaret series at the Black Fox Lounge in Dupont Circle. Sharing excerpts from "Berlin Cabaret," the event was full of spoken word and musical theatre: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk3jqbgY1-I
Serendipitous Sundays in DC incude a stop at the Zoo Bar with the Dixieland Direct Jazz band. Footage to follow, yet for all those lovers of New Orelans jazz, do check out: http://www.dixielanddirect.com/about.html
If you love feeling like dancing through a whole musical, be sure to catch "Smokey Joe's Cafe", a must see for folks who love blues, soul and all the stories that they tell!
Kicked off May with a performance:
"A Journey to the Dark Heart of Nameless Unspeakable Evil" by Jane Bussmann followed by a discussion with John Prendergast at the Center for American Progress. "Bussmann's book, originally published in the United Kingdom, is an outrageous satire on Hollywood, charities, and the international community’s farcical failure to capture Joseph Kony, and it was The London Times pick of the week. Nicholas Kristof says, “She nailed it. Who knew war in Uganda could be hilarious as well as moving?”Reuters said, “So funny you almost feel guilty laughing.
April has been jam packed with lindy hop events! Lindy hop, an American dance from Harlem that evolved with jazz in the 20s and 30s, is one of the many jazz dances that have continued to spread an infectious energy and joy wherever there is a dance floor, a dj or a swing band. Whether its the weekly dances at Princeton University, The College of New Jersey, the lindy scene in Philadelphia, one is is sure to enjoy bands and grinning faces at the "Philly Fish Fry," LaB Formal or yes of course, the DC Lindy Exchange! For photos and upcoming events, check out these posted links as well as my page!
Together with Alice Williamson (clarinet) and David Aired, “Berlin Cabaret, Memories’ Lane,” a history of Berlin’s cabarets from 1920 & beyond brought the stories and the songs of the Weimar era to a sold out audience in London’s off-west end Jermyn Street Theatre on 23 March 2014. Written, directed and performed by me in reflection of my time in Berlin (2011-2012), “Berlin Cabaret” brings the sounds and stories of a classic walking tour to the stage through reflections and songs that define the politics of change of the interwar period in Berlin.
From stories by Christopher Isherwood to diaries of Ernest Hemingway, descriptions by Josephine Baker and musings of Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht, we knit a memoir of Berlin and her memories of Berlin through visits to 7 cabarets.
“Always in the background was Berlin,” wrote Christopher Isherwood, an English expatriate who lived in Berlin during the 30s. In his novel, “Down there on a visit” he recounts his memories of leaving Berlin as the Nazi regime grew in power in Germnay. For “Berlin Cabaret,” not only do you get to visit some of the cabarets from his neighborhood Schoneberg, but also sample excerpts from my walking tours, “Jazz, Swing & Funk Walking Tours,” from which this performance is based.
The show will revisit the London stage as well as theatre venues in Berlin and Geneva during summer 2014. For theatres interested in hosting this tour, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.