Monthly Archives: November 2010

‘Tis the Season

Confession time: I have a small love affair with Christmas music.

It started in college. I would come home for the holidays, and be subjected to my mother’s catalog of the worst Christmas music ever. Name an artist whose Christmas album would be worse than water-boarding and my mom owned it. Celine Dion? Check. Manheim Steamrollers? Every one. Kenny G? Of course!

It became my mission to find Christmas music that I found tolerable, and my Mom’s December birthday became the perfect excuse for adding them to her collection prior to my arrival home. Many of the great Christmas swing songs have found their way into regular play on the radio stations and in malls by now. Ever since Macy’s rescued Kay Starr’s “Man with the Bag” from obscurity in 2006, advertisers have been looking for the next great song. Likewise, every year, I scour around for enjoyable and danceable holiday music. Here are some of this year’s best finds along with a few lesser-known favorites.

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Filed under Blues, Dixieland, Jazz, Music

What’s in Your Dance Bag?

My t-shirt theory: If you have an extra shirt with you, then it is less likely that you’ll need it. If you do need one, it is less likely that you’ll have an alternate available. To try and make the Murphy’s Law nature of things fall on my side, I keep an extra shirt–along with other staples–in my dance bag.

Other essential dance bag occupants are:

  • gum or mints
  • deodorant
  • baby powder
  • pen
  • fan (in the slim box)
  • handkerchief
  • earplugs
  • business cards
  • tissues
  • and of course, shoes.

The tissues and a handkerchief probably seems like overkill, but I like having options. In the summer, I often add sunscreen. Not shown is a water bottle. More frugal than constantly buying water and better for the planet too. Also not included is a washcloth, which both Craig and I usually grab on the way out the door for mopping our brows.

The bag itself has served me well since I started dancing in 2003. The main compartment is perfect for larger items while the front zipper pocket keeps smaller items easily accessible.

In the mid 2000s there was a lindy hop mini-trend of carrying a vintage train case with all of the necessary dance accoutrements. The trend has mostly died off, as trends do, but it is still a cute idea. Much of the trouble was that few train cases are also large enough to accommodate shoes.

Sometimes when I go out, I’ll dump my wallet, keys, and phone in my dance bag, but often I’m less coordinated and just bring my purse in too. I hate carrying two bags, but I’d rather start dancing then play item shuffle from one bag to another in the car while Craig waits.

So, do tell, what’s in your dance bag?

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Filed under balboa, Charleston, lindy hop, tools of the trade, vintage

Matty Matlock — No seriously, that’s his name!

With the Annapolis Dixieland Jazz Band dance coming up this Saturday, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the history of Dixieland jazz. Most people think of the 1920s with “King” Oliver, a young Louis Armstrong, and Sydney Bechet when you mention Dixieland jazz. Dixieland didn’t end with the advent of the big bands and swing in the 1930s. There are a couple of guys who kept the Dixieland sound alive, and we owe them so much. There is one in particular that I’ve been trying to rescue from relative obscurity, Matty Matlock.

Julian Clifton “Matty” Matlock was a clarinetist, arranger, and band leader. He started out by replacing Benny Goodman as the clarinetist in Ben Pollack’s band in 1929. Later, he worked with Bob Crosby, Bing Crosby’s younger brother, before finally starting his own band. He wrote many arrangements for television shows and movies. Essentially, Matty Matlock was the go-to guy in Hollywood whenever you wanted that vintage sound. He recorded several albums with his own band, and four of them were recently released digitally on iTunes and Amazon. All four of them are stunning.

Together, Matty Matlock and Bob Crosby have left behind a legacy of Dixieland Jazz that is both traditional and modern. The recordings of their bands benefit from all of the improvements in recording technology that weren’t available in the 1920s when Dixieland was first being recorded. Matty Matlock, in particular, was a great arranger, and would write arrangements for his band that maintained the loose feeling of that dixieland sound while being orchestrated for a larger ensemble. The recordings are lush and full while still retaining that easy playful sound.

Listen to:
“When My Sugar Walks Down the Street” — Matty Matlock, Four Button Dixie
“Wolverine Blues” — Bob Crosby and His Orchestra, South Rampart Street Parade

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Filed under C-Jam, Dixieland, Jazz, Music

Lindy Wardrobe: Mike at PittStop

Meet Mike. I first noticed Mike’s shoes on Friday, because the captoe was distinctive compared to the other black and white wingtip styled shoes on the dance floor. It’s hard to tell due to the rather poor iPhone photograph, but the striped shirt and the patterned tie coordinate rather perfectly since the colors are in the same family.

The vest, or as my English friend call it, a waist coast, has become an increasingly popular staple in the lindyhop scene lately. Both tailored, seen on Mike here, and sweater vest options are available. While stylish, I’ve also heard dancers talk about the praticallity of another “sweat barrier.” (Gross, but true. And hey, sweat happens.)

And about the aforementioned shoes, Mike tells me they were a kismet thrift store find: $5, exactly his size, good as the day they were made. We should all be so lucky.

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Filed under lindy wardrobe, vintage