A warm ‘Hello’ from Rehoboth Beach, DE where Susanne and I have spent the week on vacation. This post is part of what was formerly the “Songs of the Month Club,” but we decided to mix it up. Frankly, I was tired of sharing all my carefully collected gems without hearing back from you all about your discoveries! So I’m hoping that everyone who reads and enjoys this series will share at least one of their favorite dance tunes from the past month to help me build my collection as well! Let me know what you’re listening to!
Onto the music, this was a bit of an odd month. I DJ-ed for a couple of July 4th patriotic themed dances, and went hunting for vintage WWII themed songs. We also hosted our annual Luau Dance in Annapolis, and I found some Hawaiian swing for the occasion.
- “Thanks Mr. Roosevelt” – Harry Leader & His Band. A peppy little vintage sounding tune that clocks in just over 205 BPM, but feels very laid back and approachable. I am particularly fond of the vocals which are backed by some great piano work. Sid Pimm is listed as the pianist for the band, and I may try to track down some more of his work.
- “Yankee Doodle” – Jack Teagarden. The vocals are just passing, but the band is swinging hard with some really tight ensemble work from both the trumpet and the reed sections.
- “You’re a Grand Old Flag” – Barrel Fingers Barry. Barrelhouse piano styling. It has a little more square, ragtime/early jazz feeling to it. If you need some patriotic music for dancing, it can fit the bill nicely, but otherwise I’d let this one sit for better options.
- “Shh, It’s a Military Secret” – Glenn Miller Orhcestra. This is sort of an odd tune, and it feels like they’re stretching a little for the lyrics. Its a little slow starting, but once it gets going it swings solidly. I like it for it peek into the times.
- “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” – Glenn Miller Orchestra. I love this tune a lot. I feel like the Glenn Miller Orchestra often gets overlooked by dancing DJ’s soured on years of listening to “In the Mood” and “Pennsylvania 6500.” But Miller’s collection is super deep, and the band knew how to swing. I will definitely keep this tune in rotation for a bit.
- “Barracks’ Blues” – Jack Teagarden. The minor key verses and major chorus reminds me a lot of Chick Webb’s tunes, but with a more updated 1940’s style of band arranging. Teagarden’s arrangements do a nice job creating interplay between the band and soloists and featuring the many talented musicians in his crew.
- “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” – Terri Stevens. I love the song, but have yet to find a version that really swings hard. This was the closest I came and it was passable.
Hawaiian Swing Tunes:
- “Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula” – Kid Ory & His Creole Jazz Band. Once, I was talking with Paul Constantino from the Boilermakers, and he talked about a show the band once did of all Hawaiian themed jazz. This song is what I imagine they sounded like playing that gig. You can hear the hints of Hawaiian music, and it swings like a New Orleans band should.
- “The Hukilau Song” – Big Kahuna & The Copa Cat Pack. Be forewarned, this is a totally cheesy song. It fits the theme, and it does have a nice swing to it, but its probably best to keep this one on reserve for “special” occasions.
- “Song of the Islands” – Annette Funicello. This is surprisingly good, one of those happy surprises. There are elements that are very 1950’s (the jazz flute, for instance), but I love the build up of the band. The light piano work beneath the vocals in the beginning builds to a nice sax solo that precedes some rippin’ work by the full band.
- “Oh! Lady Be Good” – Felix Mendelssohn & The Hawaiian Serenades. At first I thought the name was a misprint, Felix Mendelssohn was a composer in the 1830’s! But turns out, there was another one, a Brit, who specialized in Hawaiian swing and worked with many of the locals.
- “Maile Swing” – Keahi Conjugacion. I like this Hawaiian songbird a lot. Her tunes have a mellow feel and tempo that grooves nicely. Her voice never strains, and fits the style well. Its a good blend of Hawaiian and jazz for the right type of venue.
- “Nothing to Do” — Felicia Carter & Amy Shook. I heard this on NPR on the way to a dance. When I got there, I promptly downloaded it, and played it that night. Its stellar. She’s an Annapolis local, and I’d love to see her play for a dance in town.
- “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” – Dinah Shore. A classic I was missing from my collection. I picked it up for the patriotic stuff because it has a vibe of Americana.
- “Bill Bailey (Live At the Crescendo)” – Ella Fitzgerald. Another classic tune I was missing. One of these days my collection will be complete. I mean, how many songs can there possibly be in this world?
- “Easy Does It” – Paul Tillotson The Love Trio. This was a great month for me in terms of finding good piano music, and it really doesn’t get much better than this. I also downloaded his rendition of “The Pink Panther,” which is fairly slow but has a great feel and some nice solo work.
- “Ain’t No Flies On Me” – Roy Eldridge. My friend Josh has a better version of this song by Hot Lips Page, but I’ve only found it available for download on eMusic. I got this as a mediocre substitute in the meantime.
- “Rockin’ In Rhythm” – Bunny Briggs. Bunny Briggs is primarily remembered as a tap dancer, but he also sang. He did the vocals for the version of “Sunny Side of the Street” that appears in the Gregory Hines movie, Tap. While I couldn’t find that recording, I did come across this crazy arrangement.
- “Tonight, Tonight” – Hot Chelle Rae. This is my new pop-jam. I’ve gotten good responses DJ-ing it, but its actually a little odd in that it could feel like a mellow 100 BPM song or a balls to the wall 200 BPM song. I personally feel it the second way, but I’ve seen it danced both. It’ll curl the toe-nails of purists, but it’ll also rock the rest of the club.
- “No Big Deal” – Lyle Lovett. I think it must be the heat in many of our poorly air conditioned clubs, but I’ve found a lot of mellow, slow lindy tunes this month. I’m particularly found of this one which is really simple, but has a lot to play with musically.
- “Minnesota” – Gentlemen in Squalor. I haven’t decided what I think of these guys. Sometimes, I think they’re brilliant, and other times they drive me up the wall. I haven’t tried DJ-ing them yet, so I may just let the dancers decide.