Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Live music this Thursday--and a dance lesson too!

This Thursday (2/2/12), the Extra Crispy Brass Band plays at the Uptowner at 8:30, with a beginning Charleston lesson with Tory and Henry at 7:45.
New to the ECBB?  Listen here:

New to Charleston?  Watch Henry and Tory here:

New to the Uptowner?
Come check it out on Thursday!

Got questions?  Email us at BrewCityHops <at> yahoo <dot> com

Blues DJ Set 1/14/12 (Guest Post)

Another guest post Bob Bednarz, also found on Pustoblogsky

Blues DJ Set 1/14/12

I will likely not post all my DJ sets, but this post is a follow up on my previous post on Blues Music 101.
People often ask about what would separate a great DJ to a good DJ. I feel a good DJ plays great music that the crowd likes and dances to. A great DJ plays great music, reads the crowd, and can shift the energy of the floor. I don't want to get into a lot on DJ theory during this post, but I wanted to shed some thoughts I have on some Blues DJ'ing since I cross over between the lindy hop and blues worlds.
First a few tips about blues DJ sets:
Blues music has a variety of different styles and tempos. I think too often blues DJ’s fall into playing only on genre. Everyone is going to have a favorite genre. For me, it’s slower Jazz. I love New Orleans Jazz and find myself most creative in dancing to it. I tend to play more what I would consider “classic/traditional” vs. contemporary music. I think it gets back to pure forms of the music and dance.
I think it’s important to switch up between the genres of music throughout a blues set. I try to expose students to all the different genres throughout lessons, especially during musicality exercises. The different genres call for different movements and moods. It’s important not to be a “roller coaster” DJ switching genres too quickly. The same applies for tempos. I think it’s reasonable to play songs at similar tempos over a period of 3-5 songs as long as the feel of the song is different. 15 minutes of the same tempo/genre/feel can easily kill the energy of a dance floor.
With that said, below is the most recent set I played. A few background notes/thoughts I was thinking about:
  • Audience: My audience consisted of mostly beginner dancers who had just learned basic blues dancing.
  • Music Selection: After discussion of blues music using food and other analogies to refer to sex, I was encouraged to play some of my “dirty” music. Maybe sometime, I’ll write about the “dirtiest songs” in my collection, but that will need to be another time. I repeated some artists to feature artists or tracks people asked about. Sound quality is important as old blues/jazz recordings aren’t the best sound quality. I also mixed in some songs used during the lessons.
  • Tempo: I varied tempo and varied genres throughout the 90 minute set. You will also see a portion where tempo was very close across 5 songs, but the feel of the music was different.
  • Length of Song: I generally try to vary time length. It was a smaller group at the dance so I attempted to keep the 4:00+ songs to a minimum to encourage switching partners and keep a “fresh” feeling among the room. I also wanted to build some confidence in case some of the new beginners didn’t feel they ran out of ideas or “moves” they could do.
I would say I was fairly conservative being I was playing for a beginner crowd and played some good standards. Overall, I got good feedback and response from the crowd.
1. "Tain’t Nobody’s Business if I do” - Ernestine Anderson - 77 BPM - 4:31
People just start arriving - trying to create ambiance with first 2 songs
2. "Need your love so bad” - B.B. King & Sheryl Crow - 76 BPM - 3:57
3. “(Night Time is) the Right Time” - Ray Charles - 81 BPM - 3:24
Time to get the dance kicked off with a classic
3. "I ain’t got Nobody” - Big Maybelle - 81 BPM - 2:53
Respond to “soulful” female vocal call/response to Ray Charles in previous song
4. "The World’s Jazz Crazy” - Claire Austin - 84 BPM - 2:45
Let’s move into some Jazz - song had symbolism in lyrics too
5. "When I get low, I get High” - Gordon Webster - 113 BPM - 5:27
Pick up tempo
6 "St. James Infirmary” - New Orleans All Star Stompers - 66 BPM - 3:07
Some of the beginners looked challenged by faster tempo, so slowed down with recognizable tune in a different style than traditional versions of this song
7. "Nobody Knows you when you’re down and out” - Bessie Smith - 92 BPM - 2:58
Transition song - classic Blues
8. “Walk on” - Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee - 115 BPM - 3:14
This song has a little speaking intro part - now playing with instrumental feel
9. "Dirty Low Down and Bad” - Keb’ Mo’ - 100 BPM- 3:07
Contemporary blues - keeping tempo moving - strong guitar sound
10. "I Got Rambling on my Mind” - Otis Spann - 89 BPM - 4:07
Chicago Blues - slowing down a little adding piano to transition to next song
The last 3 songs had guitar as a primary instrument, but had completely different feels.
11. "All Over Again” - B.B. King & Mark Knopfler - 83 BPM - 4:54
12. “My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More” - Alberta Hunter - 103 BPM - 3:46
First of 3 “dirty” songs played by request/suggestion
13. Shave ‘Em Dry II” - Lucille Bogan - 115 BPM - 3:22
This is not the best version of the song, but I played it because this song doesn’t disguise the “dirty.”
14. "Three Time Lose” - Linda Hopkins - 82 BPM - 2:24
I was listening to a women in jazz/blues documentary so I think I was inspired to play some sassy “woman power” music
15. “How Many More Years” - Howlin’ Wolf - 99 BPM - 2:51
16. “Love in Vain” - Robert Johnson - 85 BPM - 2:21
17. “You Know My Love” - Otis Rush - 78 BPM - 2:42
18. “Blue Drag” - Django Reinhardt -111 BPM - 2:56
One of my favorite songs - it has a quiet intro so it worked as a great transition back into some Jazz
19. "Egyptian Fantasy” - Kenny Davern - 90 BPM - 4:01
Another favorite - played it in particular for my friend Justin who was DJ’ing next.
20. “Horn Man Blues” - Dr. Michael White - 73 BPM - 7:01 (faded this one out)
Song 3 of “dirty” - this starts the streak of “woman power”
21. "A Good Man is Hard to Find” - Big Maybelle - 86 BPM - 2:12
22. “Mannish Boy” - Muddy Waters - 72 BPM - 2:57
A little intermission and response to “woman power”
23. “Backlash Blues” - Nina Simone - 77 BPM - 2:29
24. “I’ll Never Be Free” - Lavern Baker - 72 BPM - 2:22
25. “Mean Old World” - Snooks Eaglin - 75 BPM - 3:51
Transition song
26. “Kind Hearted Woman” - Big Head Blues Club ft. Ruthie Foster - 75 BPM - 4:08
27. “Blues in the Night” - Eva Cassidy - 70 BPM - 4:08
Notice similar tempo of last 6 songs, but all had different feel. I played the Eva Cassidy track in response to a discussion to the unfortunate dancing “sexy” to her “popular” cover of the traditional gospel tune “Wade in the Water.”

Blues Music 101: Guest Post

A huge thanks to Bob Bednarz, who  taught a blues workshop with Tory on January 14th.  Here's the first of two follow up posts on blues music: stay tuned for more tomorrow.

You can also find this post in James's  Pustoblogsky

Blues Music 101

Long time reader, first time posting...I look forward to collaborating on this site. Responses, feedback, and thoughts are more than welcome!

I recently taught a beginner blues workshop and was asked where to begin if wanting to build a blues dance DJ’ing collection. I don’t see myself as the ultimate authority on any this, but I hope to provide some insight. If not, it will allow me to “geek out” a little on a topic I like discussing at lengths.
Some of the easiest way to find blues music is to create a Pandora station and find music that you like to download. There are some great compilations of blues music as including the Chess Box Set that I’d recommend. I find blues music interesting because not all blues music is what I would call “danceable” so I will list a variety of artists with a warning to be aware what could be considered “danceable” or not. There is plenty of blues music that I would enjoy listening to, but not dance to.
Below is a working categorial list of some artists within blues music. This is not an authoritative list, but more of how I think of things. I could narrow it down categories as some of the artists’ placements are debatable. Some categories can be split up as well. If anything, I feel this may be a good introductory starting list of artists to check out.
Here is a working list among some categories I separate artists into:
Classic Women of the Blues:
Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Mahalia Jackson (Gospel roots), Ethel Waters, Etta James, Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday, Big Maybelle, Big Mama Thornton, Lil’ Johnson, Lucille Bogan, Memphis Minnie, Ruth Brown, Victoria Spivey, Lucille Hegamin, Koko Taylor, Roosevelt Sykes, Georgia White, Bea Booze, Ida Cox
Other Female Favorites:
Alberta Hunter, Odetta, Lavern Baker, Nina Simone, Shemekia Copeland, Hadda Brooks
Chicago Blues/Electric Blues
Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Memphis Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bo’ Diddley John Lee Hooker, Slim Harpo, Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker, Amos Milbourne, Magic, Slim, B.B. King, Johnny Winter Jimmy Reed, Bobby Blue Band, Bo Diddle, Buddy Guy, Eurreal Montgomery, Junior Wells, Albert King, Freddie King, Lowell Fulsom, Z.Z. Hill
Delta Blues/Country Blues
Robert Johnson, Son House, Big Joe Williams, Skip James, Big Bill Broonzy, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sonny Terry, Snooks Eaglin, Bo Carter, Willie Johnson
Contemporary Blues Favorites:
Keb’ Mo,' Bonnie Lee, Janiva Magness, Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Rait, Johnny Lang, Taj Mahal, Albert Collins, Eric Clapton (some of his is Pop music), Blind Boys of Alabama, Carey Bell, Carolyn Wonderland, Elvin Bishop, Eric Bibb, Johnny Lang
Jazz artists to check out
Sindey Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton Edmond Hall, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Hot Lips Page, Pee Wee Russell, Ray Charles (wasn’t sure where to categorize him) Ernestine Anderson, Jimmy Rushing, Jimmy Witherspoon, Kid Ory, Earl Hines, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Cootie Williams, Humphrey Lyttleton, Dr. Michael White, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton. A lot of other classic jazz artists have some great tunes.

What are your thoughts? Would you categorize something differently or separate categories more? Other favorites I missed?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Let's Lindy Hop for Science, Milwaukee!

Have you seen the Shim Sham montage from Frankie Manning's 95th birthday celebration?

Are you interested in being part of a similar dance montage?  Krister Shalm is putting together a video for an upcoming TED Talk on quantum physics, and he's looking for video submissions from cities around the world.  Lindy Hop and science....what could be better?

Respond in the comments below or contact brewcityhops-at-yahoo.com if you're interested in representing the Milwaukee swing scene on film--let's do this, Milwaukee!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert

Today is the 74th anniversary of "King of Swing" Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall concert, "described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music."  (From Wikipedia)  

Take a moment to listen to some of the great tracks below, and be prepared to dance to some of these tunes at tonight's Shag lesson.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blues 101

Have you been thinking about joining Tory and Bob's blues workshop tomorrow afternoon but aren't sure what "the blues" are all about?  This video by the AV Club shows dancing at one of Chicago's best blues dancing venues, includes interviews with many of the instructors, and touches on the history of the blues aesthetic.  Also, get a sneak peak at some of the styling we'll be working on tomorrow--keep an eye out for Bob from 4:39-5:10 and again from 6:17 to the end.

You can read more about history, watch lots of YouTube videos and listen to great blues music--and you can come out to the Pink House Studio (601 Wright) from 2-5 this Saturday for instruction and practice on blues aesthetic and musicality (and you'll pick up a handful of great moves too!).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shag? You mean, like the carpet?

This next two weeks of Monday night classes will be focusing on double Collegiate Shag, a favorite dance of mine when the tempos are quick.  Check out this mix of vintage and modern shag performances, and get ready to warm up with some quick steps this month!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We value your opinion!

If you have been coming to our Monday night classes, or have stopped coming for any particular reason, we really want to know what you think! BCH aims to bring the best Swing experience to our students, and we want to know how we can improve. Please take a couple of minutes and fill out our brief anonymous survey. It should only take a couple of minutes. Thank you!!!

Brew City Hops Class Survey

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

EC Brass Band at the Uptowner

We learned some moves last Monday that make us want to dance fast. If you are looking for a place to practice your new moves, or just to hear some awesome local music, join us at the Uptowner for the EC Brass Band this Thursday night. The Extra Crispy Brass Band brings a fun and funky New Orleans-style sound, and the Uptowner ropes off a little space for us to shake a tail-feather in. The band will be playing from 8:30 until 10:30. To get the most out of your dancing night, head on down to the Bayview Brew Haus to catch Dave Klemens's set. He'll be DJ'ing there from 9-12. 

EC Brass Band @ the Uptowner
Thursday, January 5 8:30-10:30
The Uptowner, Humboldt and Center