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March 2, 2007

last night's set

Posted by dogpossum on March 2, 2007 4:55 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances

Last night I did the second set at CBD (as I mentioned), the first time I've done a second set in aaaages (since SEPTEMBER last year, and MLX last year in November), and I was a bit worried about it. I like going first because it's like starting with a blank palette - you start at 0bpm and work the room to your comfort zone. I've been pretty successful getting the room really pumping - working from that 0 point (actually starting at about 130bpm and working the average tempo up to about 160bpm) - which can be tricky with a room that's largely beginner dancers. But you know. Performance anxiety. But last night went well.
We are expecting a large event of our own next weekend, so the locals are getting a bit excited. Last night there were more experienced dancers in the room, and I heard a lot of "oh god, I HAVE to get fitter" and "shit, my charleston sucks" talk.
Basically, I went at it the way I would for a first set - get the tempos up high, regularly, and really pump the energy up. It was a bit tricky because it was pretty bloody hot and humid in that nasty skankpit of a venue, but people proved amenable to a little persuasion.

There's a new mixer thingy, which proved a pain. Once again there were lines that didn't work. Fiddling with the cords, I noticed that someone had plugged the CD players into the wrong lines (despite we lindy hoppers being lectured by some wanker sound guy about only using X plugs, etc - this time it wasn't us), and then that the line I'd chosen was screwed. So I had to do some emergency unplugging/replugging mid-set. As per usual. Every single set, I'm lifting the fucker out of the desk (this new one is way heavier than the old one), pulling out plugs, inserting plugs and hunting down loose connections. The hairs on my arms stand on end.
So I start with a bit of hi-fi groove action to segue from Megger's* set, and that goes ok. The second song? Long, hi-fi, supergroove - good for testing levels and shifting stylistic gears. There were some major technical issues, though (fucked if I know what was wrong - I didn't touch the fucker!), so I had to change cords and plugs and so on. By that point the sound had cut out a couple of times and I was heartily sick of that bloody song. So I just thought 'fuck it', stopped the song mid-way, changed the cords over, and started again with something I actually liked.
It was very liberating to break all the rules like that - you're not supposed to stop a song mid-way through, and you should make gentler transitions. But it was hot, the song had already been screwed by the tech issues and I just HATE that groover shit right now.

It was so nice to hear Buddy Johnson kicking on in. No bullshit organ crap. No fancy wank flourishes - just a kicking rhythm, some punchy brass and a nice clear melody. Bread and cheese action. A potato chip song that lets the dancers know what your action is all about. Once I had their attention I went to a crowd pleasing favourite - C-Jam Blues (that, even though it's overplayed up the wazoo, is still a bitching song - buy that album if you're interested in learning about lindy hop music). And we were off.

A third of the songs I played were over 160bpm, which is a bit of a shift for Melbournians - they like it slow. And the 120s were at the very beginning when I was still thinking about new dancers, or at the very end when people were starting to pass out from dehydration. But otherwise, we had quite a few more upper tempo songs than usual. I just kept dropping them in there, working up and down the tempos. And they kept dancing. It was really nice to work a crowd of more experienced dancers who were determined to dance like fools to decent tempos - I haven't seen the experienced kids from different cliques so unified by dancing and enthusiasm in ages. I did, however, neglect the newer dancers a bit. But shit, just that one time, I wanted to play what I liked, and to really cater to more experienced dancers who often spend most of the night going through the motions rather than pushing themselves a bit.

I was still a bit clunky til about Four or Five Times (I didn't really practice yesterday), but there were a couple of guys standing behind me talking shit and distracting me - I knew I'd hit my groove when they both said "ok, the music's gotten good - I'm going to dance", headed off in different directions to hit the floor. And I laughed at them. Man, my friends are big fat nerdy music snob nerds.
From there, though, things went really well.

I was actually happy with the songs preceding that point - I might have been a bit quick to get the Mora's Modern Swingtet stuff in there, and did follow a combination of 3 or so songs I'd played with that afternoon rather than working the room thoroughly, but I was still finding my groove and beating off a case of weird nerves. When I'm nervy I just throw random songs on - sort of like the way I talk when I'm nervy. Lots of random comments rather than a coherent discussion.
I love Shout 'em Aunt Tillie (Ellington, of course, to follow on from the MMS verson of an Ellington track), but I should have left it til later in the night when the doods were ready for that sort of less familiar music. It was also a bit poor quality, which the crowd often can't take so early in a set. Especially after a set of super hi-fi music. But I freakin' love that song.

From Effervescent Blues, though, we were really cooking. Old Skool rules! Yee-haw!
I love Back Room Romp a great deal, and hope I don't get sick of it soon. The dancers really like it too - it's one of those songs where the floor starts off empty because it's kind of lo-fi and a bit scratchy. But the beat is so insistent, the brass really rolls around and then gets up there with some nice spikey bits... the floor always ends up full and kicking. It's almost painful to have to stand there watching people enjoying the music on the floor while I just have to be satisfied with a bit of bouncing on the spot.

Who Stole the Lock (On the Hen House Door?) was a bit of a punt. I wanted a high energy, old school lindy song. But people did charleston, which surprised me as it's the song Todd and Naomi used in this routine (which I've talked about before). I'd thought the old school fans would think 'Yee-haw! Lindy hop MUTHAFUCKAHS!' but they thought 'Yee-haw! Charleston MUTHAFUCKAHS!' instead. Which was kind of a shame as I had some sweet Charleston Chasers and Vince Giordano lined up for later on. There's only so much superfast music you can play on a hot night. And very few people actually dance 20s solo charleston, so it've been a bit exclusive to pound that theme to hard.
Because the quality of that recording is quite poor, I went for the Mora's Modern Rhythmists version of A Viper's Moan, because I wanted to stay old school, but needed to lift the sound quality a bit to change the mood and get the un-charleston people onto the floor again. It was a success. I'm almost really sick of that song (especially the MMR version), but it's a useful potato chip song.

I'm also a bit over Savoy Blues. But I was going somewhere particular. And, weirdly, that New Orleans sound is really popular with Melbourne kiddies at the moment. It defies comprehension. But it's very pleasing - I love that action, so it's nice to play stuff for the kids that I really dig. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised: it has stompy rhythms everyone can hear, it has a kind of uproarious, controlled-chaos approach to solos and parts. It's not the sort of carefully unified and controlled stuff that Benny Goodman and Glen Miller are into. Nor is it the sort of wilder, yet still managed big band sound of Basie. It feels a bit crazy, but is still quite clear and easy to dance to.

But then I wanted to up the tempos a bit and change the mood. So I went with Stomp it Off by Lunceford, which is quite quick, but has a lovely light, energetic, fun feeling - it feels light hearted and fun. Which is quite a nice contrast to the New Orleans stuff which can be a bit heavy and lower and church-influenced (you can really hear the jesus gospel stuff and martial themes). I'm always delighted when people jump on the floor for uptempo stuff, people who don't usually dance to quick stuff. I always figure it as a win if I've tricked them into dancing faster. But that version of Stomp it off is so fun and nice - it could almost be an Ellington recording, but it has that Lunceford naughtiness chugging along in there as well. And of course, it's some nice Sy Oliver goodness (he wrote it).

Then I followed up with some mellower uptempo stuff. I'm almost over Good Queen Bess as well, but it's a very effective tool for transitioning. At this point I was totally in the groove and thought I'd finally please the girl who wanted old school but really meant male vocal stuff. So I played a big fat bracket of chunky male vocal stuff. I say male vocal, but I'm actually thinking 'silly songs with men talking about food, sex or both, accompanied by guitars'.
These songs always stump me, in terms of the sound quality, but Cammy was really nice and helpful and gave me some tips mid-way through to sort them out. They're tricky because they're not walls of sound like big band stuff - they're really just a couple (or few) blokes singing along with a guitar, bass and possibly percussionist. Cam said they're mostly sitting on about 220 somethings (I can't remember the word), so we dumped the bass way down, upped the mids (or was it the opposite? I forget), and then fiddled with the highs. It was interesting to play with this stuff. And Cam encouraged me to get serious with my equalizer, which scares me. But heck, I'm all cowboy these days, so I might as well. It does bring home the drawbacks of itunes, though.

So I played a bunch of Slim and Slam, Cats and the Fiddle and Mills Brothers and peopel went NUTS. They really really dug it. Apparently the teachers at the Lismore camp in February played a lot of this action. It's weird, because I learnt to dance on these guys, the Hot Shots use them a lot at Herrang for teaching and they really feel very familiar and kind of 'overplayed' in my mind - I love them, but I wouldn't pack a set with them. But I had avoided playing them for a while as they'd not gone down well last year with CBD people, and I do actually adore Slim Gaillard in particular.

I almost added some Fats Waller in there, but I figured I needed to change the vibe a bit, so I went with a potato chip song (after the Potato Chips song), because I wanted to get to a request for the birthday boy - when someone requests For Dancers Only you hop to it. Particularly when they specifically request the higher tempo version I adore.

By this point people were looking really trashed. They were kind of euphoric and having a good time, but they were obviously not drinking enough water (arsehole venue manager won't let people bring their own water and won't turn on the air-con. Arsehole), so I figured I'd finish off this chunk then let it settle a bit. Savoy, one of my favourite songs, went down really well, and I thought I Want The Waiter (with the water) was a funny choice, a bit lower energy and a bit slower. And it also went down well. Jive at Five is such a nice song, and that version is slower again and kind of mellow, so people had a chance to chill.

It's kind of a risk at that point in the evening (I started at 10.00 and it was about 11 by then), so this was a bit of a punt. But they were still nuts for dancing. So I built them up again. And played Minor Goes a'Muggin' in honour of Trev. There was a protracted discussion about the meaning of the word 'muggin' at the DJ desk at this point, with some speculation that it could have something to do with smiling or a big face (kind of a British thing), or perhaps more to do with:

muggins |ˈməginz|
noun ( pl. same or mugginses ) Brit., informal a foolish and gullible person.
• humorous used to refer to oneself in order to suggest that one has been stupid, esp. in allowing oneself to be exploited : muggins has volunteered to do the catering.
ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: perhaps a use of the surname Muggins, with allusion to mug 1 .
(to use the dictionary on my computer).

People dug the song, though. By this point it was about 11.20 and I was getting tired. The last few songs were closers and I danced the last two (because it was after 11.30 and I wasn't being paid any more and I WANTED TO). I should have ended at St James Infirmary rather than letting it peter out. Don't Come Too Soon is a fairly lackluster attempt to construct a euphemism for the obvious. I like it.

It was a good set, I enjoyed it, and things went well.

Here's the set list:

CBD set 2 1st March 2007
(title, artist, bpm, date, album, time)

Mumbles Oscar Peterson 188 1964 Ultimate Oscar Peterson As Selected By Ray Brown 2:02
Blues In Hoss' Flat City Rhythm Orchestra 130 2004 Vibrant Tones 5:23
Shufflin' And Rollin' Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra 153 1952 Walk 'Em 3:12
C-Jam Blues Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis 143 1999 Live In Swing City: Swingin' With Duke 3:33
Krum Elbow Blues Mora's Modern Swingtet 162 2004 20th Century Closet 2:45
Shout 'Em Aunt Tillie Duke Ellington and His Orchestra 158 1930 Jazz Caravan 2:56
Effervescent Blues Mora's Modern Swingtet 122 2004 20th Century Closet 3:07
B-Sharp Boston Duke Ellington and His Orchestra 126 1949 Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: 1949-1950 2:54
Four Or Five Times Woody Herman Orchestra 141 The Great Swing Bands (Disc 2) 3:09
Back Room Romp Duke Ellington and his Orchestra 155 2000 Ken Burns Jazz: Duke Ellington 2:49
Flying Home Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra 159 1940 Tempo And Swing 2:58
Who Stole the Lock (On the Hen House Door?) Jack Bland 245 2002 Golden Greats: Greatest Dixieland Jazz Disc 2 2:37
A Viper's Moan Mora's Modern Rhythmists 143 2000 Call Of The Freaks 3:30
Savoy Blues Kid Ory 134 2002 Golden Greats: Greatest Dixieland Jazz Disc 3 3:00
Perdido Street Blues Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra with Sidney Bechet 148 1940 Blues In Thirds 1940-41 3:00
Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho Kid Ory And His Creole Jazz Band 160 1946 Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band 1944-46 3:12
Stomp It Off Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra 190 1934 Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford 3:08
Good Queen Bess Duke Ellington 160 1940 The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 10) 3:00
Laughing In Rhythm Slim Gaillard 140 2:52
Groove Juice Special Slim Gaillard And His Flat Foot Floogie Boys 170 1942 Big Ben - Disc 2 - All Too Soon 2:43
Stomp, Stomp The Cats and The Fiddle 203 1941 We Cats Will Swing For You Volume 2 1940-41 2:55
My Walking Stick The Mills Brothers 158 1938 The Mills Brothers Featuring Louis Armstrong vol4 (1937-1940) 2:43
Potato Chips Slim Gaillard 143 2004 Jazz For Kids - Sing, Clap, Wiggle, and Shake 3:04
Apollo Jump Lucky Millinder 143 Apollo Jump 3:26
For Dancers Only Jimmie Lunceford and His Harlem Express 178 1944 1944-Uncollected 2:22
Savoy Lucky Millinder 166 1993 Anthology Of Big Band Swing (Disc 2) 3:04
I Want The Waiter (with the water) Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra 151 1939 Lunceford Special 1939-40 2:44
Jive At Five Count Basie and His Orchestra 147 1960 The Count Basie Story (Disc 1) 3:02
Shoutin' Blues Count Basie and His Orchestra 148 1949 Kansas City Powerhouse 2:38
Till Tom Special Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra 158 1940 Tempo And Swing 3:23
The Minor Goes Muggin' Duke Ellington 176 1946 The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 15) 3:02
Cole Slaw Jesse Stone and His Orchestra 145 Original Swingers: Hipsters, Zoots and Wingtips vol 2 2:57
Yes, Indeed! Sy Oliver and Jo Stafford with Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra 134 1941 Yes, Indeed! 3:30
St. James Infirmary Hot Lips Page and his Orchestra 122 1949 Jump For Joy! 3:12
Black And Tan Fantasy Jimmie Lunceford 104 1997 Rhythm Is Our Business 2:44
New Style Baby Walter Brown with Jay McShann and His Kycee Stompers 120 1949 Kansas City Blues 1944-1949 (Disc 3) 2:37
Don't Come Too Soon Julia Lee And Her Boyfriends 123 1949 Kansas City Blues 1944-1949 (Disc 2) 2:59

*Megs and I have very different taste in music, but we like each other and enjoy DJing together - she's an arse kicker and we make each other laugh a lot. So it's always good when we're paired up for sets.

Posted by dogpossum on March 2, 2007 4:55 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances