Goats: THROWN!

Imperial Swing from dogpossum on 8tracks Radio.

Last weekend I DJed my first proper lindy hop set since November, and it was super fine. It was the first set of the night at Imperial Swing, a social gig put on by Swing Out Sydney. TOTAL FUN. It’s a great venue, and the sound system is pretty damn special. The DJ after me – Kat – is now my new favourite DJ. She was ON FIRE. Here’s the set list, because a friend asked for it. I aim to please.

Anyways, this set is pretty much what I think of as a ‘potato chip’ set: these are the sorts of songs you can just eat down by the handful. Nothing too crazy or confronting, lots of familiar stuff (C Jam Blues!), lots of energy. I was aiming for a high-energy party feel, and wanted to keep the tempos kind of reasonable as the crowd included some very new dancers. I figured familiar was also good, as many of the regular dancers who’d arrived were feeling a bit unsure of themselves in a queer space, so I wanted to help them find their feet. And, you know, we overplay C Jam Blues because IT’S A GREAT SONG.

title year artist album name song length (links -> where you can buy the album direct from the artist)

Blue Monday 1957 Jay McShann and his Band (Jimmy Witherspoon) 125 Goin’ To Kansas City Blues 3:40

Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop 1945 Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra 135 Hamp: The Legendary Decca Recordings 3:21

C-Jam Blues 1999 Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis 143 Live In Swing City: Swingin’ With Duke 3:34

Blues In Hoss’s Flat 1958 Count Basie and his Orchestra 144 Chairman Of The Board [Bonus Tracks] 3:13

The Spinach Song 2004 Terra Hazelton (feat. Jeff Healey’s Jazz Wizards) 165 Anybody’s Baby 4:57

Percolatin’ Blues 2011 Smoking Time Jazz Club 135 Lina’s Blues 4:14

I Like Pie 2012 Gordon Webster (with Aurora Nealand, Jesse Selengut, Gordon Au, Dan Levinson, Matt Musselman, Cassidy Holden, Rob Adkins, Jeremy Noller, Steven Mitchell) 162 Live In Rochester 5:38

Sales Tax 2012 Leigh Barker and the New Sheiks (Matt Boden, Don Stewart, Alastair McGrath-Kerr, Eamon McNelis, Heather Stewart) 132 The Sales Tax 3:43

Good Rockin’ Tonight 1959 Jimmy Witherspoon with Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Earl Hines, Vernon Alley, Mel Lewis 160 The ‘Spoon Concerts 2:27

Don’t You Miss Your Baby 1980 Jimmy Witherspoon and Panama Francis’ Savoy Sutans 145 Jimmy Witherspoon and Panama Francis’ Savoy Sultans 3:56

Milenberg Joys 2010 Gordon Webster (with Jesse Selengut, Matt Musselman, Cassidy Holden, Rob Adkins, Jeremy Noller, Adrian Cunningham) 194 Live In Philadelphia 3:45

It’s Your Last Chance To Dance 2007 Preservation Hall 179 The Hurricane Sessions 4:31

Mr Gentle and Mr Cool 2005 John Hallam and Jeff Barnhart 173 Mr. Gentle and Mr. Hot 3:23

Tempo de Luxe 1940 Harry James 130 New York World’s Fair, 1940 – The Blue Room, Hotel Lincoln, 3:19
Savoy 1942 Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra (Trevor Bacon) 166 Anthology Of Big Band Swing (Disc 2) 3:05

St. Louis Blues 1939 Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra 183 Ella Fitzgerald In The Groove 4:46

Keep On Churnin’ 1952 Wynonie Harris 146 Wynonie Harris: Complete Jazz Series 1950 – 1952 2:56

I Ain’t Mad At You 1960 Mildred Anderson 158 No More In Life 3:04

Here’s what I was thinking as I was DJing:

‘Blue Monday’ is a song I often start sets with. It’s an easy tempo, has lots of energy, and a very simple structure. It worked well for me here as the music in the free lesson before the dance was mostly neo, and I needed a good transition to my more old-schooly music. Also: shouting.

‘Hey! Ba-ba-re-bop’. You know why I played this.

‘C Jam Blues’. By this point I had a lot of energy happening, and the room had settled into proper social dancing after the class. I decided I wanted to come in pretty hard with the energy (rather than easing into things), as I only had an hour. There were enough people in the room who could dance comfortably, so I figured I’d ring Pavlov’s Bell and get the kids jumping about a bit.

‘Blues In Hoss’ Flat’. I love following C Jam Blues with this. It’s the perfect Ellington-Basie one-two punch. BAM! Things were cooking at this point. A mass of people arrived in a big flow, so I needed to get really serious.

‘The Spinach Song’. Enough of that big band wall of sound! I wanted to get to some NOLA action eventually, so I needed a good transition. This song is a brilliant transition from that Kansas city blues shouter sort of vibe that ‘Blues in Hoss’s Flat’ sets up. It also echoed the Witherspoon song. But the instrumentation leans a bit more towards old school.

‘Percolatin’ Blues’. I felt as though the previous song was the crest of the first energy hill, so I needed a chillout song. Those previous songs had kind of battered people emotionally with their big, intense feelings, and I needed to give people an in to the dance floor if they’d not gotten up yet. So I dropped the tempos and the intensity so peeps could dip their toes in if they’d just arrived or finally recovered from the class and felt ready to try again. This was about twenty minutes into the set, which is the end of the first third, where I’m usually thinking we’re cresting.

Ok, enough with the molly coddling. Time to pump the energy up again. I’d said I’d play this in talk on FB, and it’s still massively popular. Personally, I’m totally over this version of ‘I Like Pie’. I’m tired of the mugging lyrics, and I’m tired of the fairly boring chorus. But each time I listen to it, I fall in love with Gordon’s piano. That shit is hot. Anyways, this was a crowd-pleaser.

But things were kind of loud and intense, and I saw quite a few tired people looking for a break after two longer songs. So I did ‘Sales Tax’. I think I made a slight misjudgement with this one. I needed to keep the energy up, but with a slightly different sound. Anyways, it wasn’t quite right. It was around this point that I realised there was some serious problem happening with the sound system. The sound was too loud at the front and not loud enough at the back. The sound guy had disappeared, so I couldn’t ask him.

‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ – a live version. I went with more Witherspoon because I wanted to kick things up with some higher tempo shouting live fun. But I was quite distracted by the technical problem, so I’m not sure it was the perfect choice (though as the song progressed it turned out to be the perfect choice). But about 30 seconds in, a seriously loud alarm started beeping in the DJ booth. The dancers couldn’t hear it, but it was LOUD. The sound guy came running down and tried to fix things. Apparently someone had turned off all the music in the pub. On Saturday night in an inner city queer pub. Nice one. It WASN’T ME.

Anyways, I was kind of shaken by that, so I just lined up the next song I had in mind, and had to physically move myself out of the way, away from my laptop and the sound gear. So the next Witherspoon – another Witherspoon – was a random choice. I’d almost played it instead of ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’, but didn’t. It turned out to be a really good choice, but I felt as though I’d lost control of things for a second there. Anyways, by the end of the song, the alarm was off, I was back at the laptop and it was time to get into things again.

By the end of that song, it was time to hit that crest again. The energy really chugs along in that Panama Francis band’s version of a standard, but Witherspoon adds a really interesting alternative to the Jimmy Rushing version we hear all the time. And I was feeling a bit smarty pants, referring back to that Basie song with Witherspoon again.

‘Milenberg Joys’. I much prefer this to the Pie and Cake song. It rocks. It pulled the energy (and tempos) up. I’d have gone faster again, but the crowd wasn’t quite up to it. There were still a lot of new dancers, and the dancers who’d been around for a while didn’t really have the skills to tackle the massively higher tempos. The room felt hot, though, and people were kind of going crazy. There were quite a few glazed crazy-eyes in the room, which was pleasing.

So I did the obvious thing after this with Preservation Hall. I’m kind of over this song. I think it’s overplayed, and unlike C Jam Blues, I don’t think it’s quite versatile enough to warrant the overplaying. But it provided a nice climax to the energy in the room. And, long song. is long.

‘Mr Gentle and Mr Cool’ is a lovely, lovely song that an Adelaidean DJ, Jarryd, put me onto. I’m obsessed with it. It actually reminds me of the Preservation Hall Hot 4 album in the piano, so in my mind it was a lovely match to the song before. I’m not sure peeps who don’t know that Pres Hall small group album would have caught the connection, but, who cares! Anyways, it’s a chillaxed, more complex song, but it still has some tempo on it, so it doesn’t let things die.

By this point I was done with that modern NOLA sound. I needed something older and funner. I’m a bit nuts about this Harry James song. It was recorded live at the World’s Fair in 1940. It starts really mellow and kind of sweet. But mid-way it picks up with a bang! and becomes a fucking brilliant dance song.
I’m interested in the World Fair from that year for a few reasons. Firstly, there’s footage of people dancing together at the Fair. And they’re all women. WIN!

The Fair did, of course, feature lindy hoppers from the Savoy doing performances, but apparently this was a pretty shitty gig. Reading through my copy of The Man Who Recorded the World, a book about Alan Lomax, I discovered that he’d designed the music bits of that World Fair as a series of ‘everyday’ music spaces – jook joints featuring blues music, town halls playing bluegrass, etc etc etc. He’d wanted to recreate the contexts he’d recorded music in during his ethnographic work. But the Fair organisers reneged on his plans and forced the ‘mock Savoy’ into the plan, and abandoned Lomax’s much more interesting ideas. I suspect this shift was partly to blame for the shitty time the Savoy dancers had at the Fair (I have, incidentally, written a bit about this stuff in the post a snot-addled, animated wander through san francisco).

More usefully to dancers on the night, ‘Tempo deLuxe’ is what I think of as a ‘builder’ – it starts mellow and gets crazy. A good transition from the mellower song before to the fun I wanted to do next.

‘Savoy’ is, of course, a song about the Savoy Ballroom. See what I did there? It’s also a stock standard. And a jolly good song with lots of fun in it.

I’ve been playing that version of ‘St Louis Blues’ for years and years and years. It’s truly fabulous, AND it was recorded live at the Savoy ballroom. See?

Ok, so things feel exciting in the room. I was building energy for the dancers, but also because we were about to have a performance by Pretty Strong Woman, who does weight-lifting burlesque stuff. And I like to set up the energy for performers.

After all that Savoy stuff I went with Wyonie Harris because the crowd had quite a few rock n rollers, and I wanted to at least throw them part of a bone. Not much of a bone, though. Mildred Anderson was a similar token effort. Both of these are great songs, but they lean towards jump blues, and I find them great cross-over songs when I’m playing a mixed lindy hop/rock n roll crowd. These two are a bit slower, too, so they’re more accessible.

And then I was done!

Fun times! And as I said, Kat played a cracker of a set after me. She really did brilliant work. And I danced like a fool til the rock n roll/neo DJs came on at midnight, and then I went home. After I saw Kira Hu-la-la do a brilliant motorhead type burlesque show. Oh, how I LOLed at her clever jokes. GOATS: THROWN!

small group time

I love small swing groups, and Riverwalk Jazz are doing a show on them this week called Goodman, Shaw & Dorsey: Big Band Leaders and Their Small Combos. It features a few of my favourite small groups, most of which make for good (though fairly precise, and dare I say it, uptight) dancing.

That Riverwalk Jazz show reminded me of an 8tracks I did a while ago, which is mostly small groups. I’m really a fool for a small group, I think mostly because I dance to small groups more often IRL. But also because I like the way you can hear every instrument in a small band, and the smaller format lets musicians work together in a team, yet still as individuals:

songs by singers with small bands from dogpossum on 8tracks.

The Riverwalk Jazz discussion of small groups has also made me think about the Ozcats, who’re a very good Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats tribute band in Sydney. I’ve only seen them play twice, and not for over a year, but they were the best Australian band I’ve ever danced to. A heap of older blokes staring at their scores from seats on the stage, rocking out. I’d love to have them at a dance event again. They play this sort of music:


A-one, a-two, a-you know what to do!

A-one, a-two, a-you know what to do! from dogpossum on 8tracks.


This month has been Frankie Manning month for me, teaching two Frankie themed classes a week (lindy hop and solo jazz), visiting Melbourne for the Shiny Stockings weekend with Chazz Young, Steven Mitchell and Ramona Staffeld (Ramona drove this excellent weekend) and generally doing quite a lot of research into Frankie Manning’s dancing and choreography.

It was, of course, Frankie’s birthday on the 26th May, and this has proven a nice focus for all this effort. I think it was a great idea to use the whole month to focus on Frankie’s work, and I’ve been feeling very inspired and challenged. I’ve also been struck by just how much joy this Frankie themed material has brought our students in class (it really does fill you up with happiness), and how important Frankie has been to the lindy hop revival. Yes, he was a brilliant dancer and choreographer, but he was also so important to the revival of lindy hop in the modern day, bringing not only his knowledge of dance, but his feeling for other people and for dancing. He would always begin his dances with the ideas that you ‘bow to the queen’ and ‘for the next three minutes you’re in love with this person’, and this seems like a pretty good way to dance – and live your life – to me. Respect your partner, love dance and dancing, let your partner be the centre of your world for the next little moment. I’m down with that.

So here is a little 8tracks devoted to Frankie Manning.

1. Jumpin’ At The Woodside – Count Basie and his Orchestra – 235 – The Complete Decca Recordings (disc 02) – 1939 – 3:10

2. “Big Apple Contest” – The Solomon Douglas Swingtet – 211 – Swingmatism – 2006 – 2:58

3. Hellzapoppin – George Gee – 356 – 2009 – 2:13

4. Cotton Tail – Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra – 236 – Big Ben – Disc 1 – Cotton Tail – 1940 – 4:49 PM

5. Flying Home – Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra – 197 – Lionel Hampton Story 2: Flying Home – 1942 – 3:11

6. Shiny Stockings – Count Basie and his Orchestra – 126 – Complete Clef/Verve Count Basie Fifties Studio Recordings [Disc 6] – 1956 – 5:17

7. Easy Does It – Big Eighteen (Billy Butterfield, Buck Clayton, Charlie Shavers, Rex Stewart, Lawrence Brown, Vic Dickenson, Lou McGarity, Dicky Wells, Walt Levinksy, Hymie Schertzer, Sam Donahue, Boomie Richman, Ernie Caceres, Johnny Guarnieri, Barry Galbraith, Milt ) – 129 – Echoes of the Swinging Bands – 1958 – 5:14

8. The Shim Sham Song – JW Swing Orchestra – 183 – Holdin’ You In My Holden – 2002 – 2:46

1. ‘Jumpin at the Woodside’.
This song is one of those Pavlov’s Lindy Hopper tracks that quite often provokes a jam circle. But it was the song to which the famous lindy hop routine in the 1941 film Hellzapoppin was originally choreographed (read more about that here). There are sixty million versions, but this one is my favourite.

(Whiteys Lindy Hoppers .. Helzapoppin)

Basie is a particularly important band leader when we’re talking Frankie.

2. ‘The ‘Big Apple Contest” from the Keep Punchin’ soundie.
Taken from a short film, the routine accompanying this song has proved particularly popular with lindy hoppers, especially in the last six years or so. It’s a high energy, challenging choreography, lots of fun to dance, lots of interesting shapes and steps.

The Big Apple contest from Keep Punchin’

This version of this song is important because it’s the most commonly used, and perhaps the best quality version we have available. It’s by Solomon Douglas’ Swingtet, and was transcribed by Solomon. Solomon is a DJ and dancer as well as a talented pianist who plays with lots of good bands, as well as with his own outfits. I think this recording could do with a bit more attention, really. It gets used an awful lot, and is the sort of recording only a band tightly connected with lindy hoppers would research and record. Musically speaking I’m not sure the actual song is all that awesome, but this is a great treatment, and the song itself is absolutely central to Frankie Manning’s history on film.

3. I don’t need to explain ‘Hellzapoppin” again. But I do need to point out that this version was transcribed and recorded by George Gee, a band leader with a long history of association and collaboration with lindy hoppers. He was right there in the early days of the revival, and he’s still right there, in the thick of it.

I can’t embed the video, but I can link you to this ‘Hellzapoppin, Then and Now’ video featuring this song played live.
I’m not sure where or if you can buy this song now, but I downloaded it from FB where George Gee was giving it away for free a while ago.

4. ‘Cottontail’ was featured in the 1941 soundie ‘Cottontail’ featuring Duke Ellington and his orchestra. This clip features the Hot Chocolates (aka the Harlem Congaroos), a group of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers from the Savoy Ballroom, and once again featuring Frankie Manning (read more about it here).


5. ‘Flying Home’ by Lionel Hampton’s orchestra (1942).
This is one of the first songs associated with the lindy hop revival. Spike Lee’s 1992 film ‘Malcolm X’ is important in lindy hop history because Frankie Manning (and other old timer and modern day lindy hoppers with mad skills) were involved in its production, in no small part because of Lee’s fierce determination to highlight black American history. Manning appears in this sequence, but was also involved in the choreography.

lindy hop scene from Malcolm X

This song is another one that’ll start a jam if you’re not careful. I’m extra interested in this song because it was also famously recorded by Benny Goodman’s smaller groups, and those groups were really important because they were one of the earliest and most determinedly high profile swing bands featuring black and white performers. So I tend to think of this clip as a political comment on lindy hop history as well as a spankingly good dance track.

6. ‘Shiny Stockings’, Count Basie Orchestra in 1956.
This song is important because it was one of Frankie’s favourites, and he used it in classes and performances all the time in the revival period.

Frankie and Dawn Hampton performing in 2008

As a DJ and music nerd, I’m quite interested in the correlation between ‘new testatment Basie’ and ‘new testament Frankie’. This was the second half of these artists’ careers, quite different to their earlier work, and yet utterly dependent on that 1930s/40s history of hot and fast swing jazz. In these later periods of their careers, both Basie and Frankie explored subtler, more nuanced work (Frankie of course responding to what he heard in Basie’s music), both working with slower tempos and greater subtlety.

Teaching this past month I’ve realised that though you might see a subtler dancing at work in Frankie’s post-revival lindy hop, his movements are still those of a dancer who spent most of their time running about at high tempos in massively athletic displays of skill. So though his joints were older and stiffer, his body (and brain) still remembered how to move like an athlete, and to really recreate this (as if you really could!), you need to start big and athletic, then pare it back to the more nuanced essence. It’s the same with Basie’s music. His playing in the 50s is pared back from the stomping stride playing of his early days in Kansas to just a few careful notes accenting rhythm and melody in the 50s.

7. ‘Easy Does It’, by the Big Eighteen in 1958.

Another of Frankie’s teaching and performing favourites from the revival period:

(with Sylvia Sykes in 2006)

This version of ‘Easy Does It’ is a good one because it’s by the Big Eighteen – a celebrity all-star band mashed together for a few studio recordings. There’s a bit of grandstanding in there, but really, if that crowd got together, you’d expect nothing less. ‘Easy Does It’ was recorded by heaps of people, including Basie’s band in 1940.

8. ‘The Shim Sham Song’ – JW Swing Orchestra.
Another key song for the lindy hop revival, Frankie taught and performed the shim sham all over the world using this song. There’s a far more famous version by George Gee’s band, featuring Frankie calling the steps, but the JW Swing Orchestra was important in the Melbourne lindy hop scene in the earlier days. They recorded this quite good version in 2002, and though I don’t especially like this song, it’s absolutely central to lindy hop history and to Frankie Manning’s importance.

Though it’s not using that ‘Shim Sham song’, this ‘global shim sham’ tribute video put together for Frankie 95 gives you an idea of both the dance’s importance, and the great love felt for Frankie Manning by lindy hoppers all over the world.


Happy Birthday Frankie, and thanks for all the lols!

8 tracks: ‘New’ music for lindy hopping

‘New’ music for lindy hopping from dogpossum on 8tracks.


image from Shorpy

This is (part of) a set I did last week. I wanted to combine some new stuff (the New Sheiks in particular) with some very familiar stuff (Now You Has Jazz), and to feature Clark Terry. Clark Terry needs some help covering medical bills – please do consider donating even a little bit to this fund.

The second half of this set was solid old school, but this block (excluding that last Mona’s Hot Four) went off like a frog in a sock. I had considered adding in some Gordon Webster, because his band would’ve fitted in nicely, but he’s terribly overplayed at the moment. I couldn’t resist adding in that Mona’s Hot Four song in this 8track, though. Because I love that particular band. NB the Rhythm Club All Stars band (featuring Danny Glass of course) track prompted a jam. Which nearly killed the dancers, who weren’t expecting it to be quite as fast as it was. But gee, they handled the breaks well in what was an unfamiliar song.

If you’re looking to purchase these songs, I do recommend going through the artist directly where possible. I’ve included links where possible.

title artist bpm album year length

Sales Tax Leigh Barker and the New Sheiks (Matt Boden, Don Stewart, Alastair McGrath-Kerr, Eamon McNelis, Heather Stewart) 132 The Sales Tax 2012 3:43

It’s Your Last Chance To Dance Preservation Hall Jazz Band 179 The Hurricane Sessions 2007 4:31

Old Joe’s Hittin’ The Jug Rhythm Club All Stars 269 Introducing The Rhythm Club All Stars 2008 2:43

Now You Has Jazz Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, others 168 The Great American Songbook 4:12

C-Jam Blues Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis 143 Live In Swing City: Swingin’ With Duke 1999 3:34

Mumbles Clark Terry, Ed Thigpen, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown 192 Oscar Peterson Trio + One: Clark Terry 1964 2:04

Lonely One In This Town Leigh Barker and the New Sheiks (Matt Boden, Don Stewart, Alastair McGrath-Kerr, Eamon McNelis, Heather Stewart) 124 The Sales Tax 2012 3:28

Satchel Mouth Baby Catherine Russell 135 Strictly Romancin’ 2012 3:20

Puttin’ On The Ritz Mona’s Hot Four (Dennis Lichtman, Gordon Webster, Cassidy Holden, Nick Russo, Jesse Selengut, Dan Levinson, Tamar Korn) 185 Live at Mona’s 2009 7:49

Charlie Shavers Plays The Trumpet

Charlie Shavers Plays The Trumpet from dogpossum on 8tracks.

I’m a big fan of Charlie Shavers, but I didn’t realise I was until I started getting nerdy with the discographies. As I added musicians to song information in my collection I realised his name just kept popping up, mostly with other artists I love. So I’ve made an 8track of some songs from my favourite bands.

You can read his own account of his life in this little autobiographical piece, Charlie Shavers: About the Size of It (talking to Les Tomkins in 1970). But here are some interesting things about Charlie Shavers:

  • he played the trumpet;
  • he composed the song ‘Undecided’ (I’ve chosen a 1939 version where he plays with Fats Waller);
  • he played in Lucky Millinder’s band (but I didn’t include any of these songs);
  • he played the banjo and piano before the trumpet.

There are plenty of other things to say about Charlie Shavers, but I’d rather listen to his music.

Here’s the set list for this 8track. It’s mostly smaller bands, I’m afraid, even though Shavers did so much work with big bands. But this probably a more accurate indication of my tastes!

Four Or Five Times – Jimmie Noone and his Orchestra (Charlie Shavers, Pete Brown, Frank Smith, Teddy Bunn, Wellman Braud, O’Neil Spencer, Teddy Simmons) – 173 – Jimmie Noone 1934 – 1940 – 1937 – 3:09

Sloe Jam Fizz – Buster Bailey and his Rhythm Busters (John Kirby, O’Neil Spencer, Charlie Shavers) – 147 – Buster Bailey: Complete Jazz Series 1925 – 1940 – 1938 – 2:26

Blue Monday On Sugar Hill – Coot Grant (Leoloa B. Wilson), Kid Wesley ‘Sox’ Wilson, Charlie Shavers, Sidney Bechet, Sammy Price, Teddy Bunn, Richard Fullbright, O’Neill Spencer) – 213 – Charlie Shavers and The Blues Singers 1938-1939 – 1938 – 2:17

Blues Galore – Johnny Dodds and his Chicago Boys (Charlie Shavers, Lil Armstrong, Teddy Bunn, John Kirby, O’Neil Spencer) – 148 – Complete Jazz Series 1928 – 1940 – 1938 – 2:47

Them There Eyes Billie Holiday and her Orchestra (Charlie Shavers, Tab Smith, Kenneth Hollon, Stanley Payne, Sonny White, Bernard Addison, John Williams, Eddie Dougherty) – 180 – Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia (1933-1944) (Disc 06) – 1939 – 2:51

Fine and Mellow – Charlie Shavers with Alberta Hunter – 87 – Charlie Shavers and The Blues Singers 1938-1939 – 1939 – 2:52

Undecided – Fats Waller and his Rhythm (Herman Autrey, Gene Sedric, Al Casey, Cedric Wallace, Slick Jones) – 97 – The Middle Years – Part 2 (1938-1940) (disc 2) – 1939 – 3:38

Effervescent Blues – John Kirby Sextet (Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Russell Procope, Billy Kyle, William ‘O’Neill’ Spencer) – 119 – John Kirby Sextet: Complete Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings (disc 01) – 1939 – 2:50

Royal Garden Blues – John Kirby Sextet (Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Russell Procope, Billy Kyle, William ‘O’Neill’ Spencer) – 276 – John Kirby Sextet: Complete Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings (disc 01) – 1939 – 2:33

Come Easy Go Easy – Rosetta Howard acc. by the Harlem Blues Serenaders (Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Lil Armstrong, Ulysses Livingston, Wellman Brand, O’Neil Spencer) – 90 – Rosetta Howard (1939-1947) – 1939 – 3:03

St. Louis Blues – John Kirby Sextet (Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Russell Procope, Billy Kyle, Gordon ‘Specs’ Powell) – 221 John Kirby Sextet: Complete Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings (disc 02) – 1941 – 2:45

Oh I’m Evil – Una Mae Carlisle with Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Russell Procope, Billy Kyle, John Kirby, O’Neil Spencer – 158 – Una Mae Carlisle: Complete Jazz Series 1938 – 1941 – 1941 – 2:25

Don’t Tetch It! – Una Mae Carlisle with Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Russell Procope, Billy Kyle, John Kirby, O’Neil Spencer – 191 – Una Mae Carlisle: Complete Jazz Series 1941-1944 – 1942 – 2:21

Long, Long Journey – Esquire All-American Award Winners (Louis Armstrong, Charlie Shavers, Jimmy Hamilton, Johnny Hodges, Don Byas, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Remo Palmieri, Chubby Jackson, Sonny Greer) – 103 – The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 17) – 1946 – 4:31

I Cried For You – Billie Holiday and her Band (Charlie Shavers, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Ed Shaughnessy) – 115 – The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes (disc 2) – 1954 – 2:28

Easy Does It – Big Eighteen (Billy Butterfield, Buck Clayton, Charlie Shavers, Rex Stewart, Lawrence Brown, Vic Dickenson, Lou McGarity, Dicky Wells, Walt Levinksy, Hymie Schertzer, Sam Donahue, Boomie Richman, Ernie Caceres, Johnny Guarnieri, Barry Galbraith, Milt ) – 129 Echoes of the Swinging Bands – 1958 – 5:14

‘Four or Five Times’ is quite a well-known song. Jimmie Noone first recorded it in 1928, but I love this later version that includes Shavers. It has a lovely, light, swinging feel.

‘Sloe Jam Fizz’ is by Buster Bailey and his Rhythm Busters, and includes not only Charlie Shavers, but also John Kirby, who Shavers later went on to work with.

‘Blue Monday on Sugar Hill’, credited to Grant and Wilson, is a fun song featuring lots of famous people – Sam Price, Sidney Bechet, O’Neil Spencer. It reminds me of Lil Armstrong’s band. The Bechet-Shavers connection is pretty interesting.

‘Blues Galore’ is another nice song, this time by Johnny Dodds and His Chicago Boys, which again features John Kirby, O’Neil Spencer and Charlie Shavers, but this time Lil Armstrong is credited. I reckon this song really heralds the type of stuff Kirby’s band did later – quite a light, gentle touch, but with a really solidly swinging rhythm, perhaps a bit more insistent than in Kirby’s small groups later on. The vocals are great.

‘Them There Eyes’ is a bit different to the earlier songs, but I think that Shavers’ style really helped develop Holiday’s sound during this period. I don’t think this song is as good as a lot of the stuff she did with Teddy Wilson, for example, but there’s much in common. I think Shavers and Wilson have a similar approach to songs, so it’s not too surprising to find them together with a musician like Billie Holiday.

I don’t know much about this version of ‘Fine and Mellow’ as it’s just new to my collection, but I couldn’t resist the connection with Holiday, who of course recorded a very famous version of this song. I like this version, though, for Alberta Hunter’s gravelly vibrato contrasting with Shavers’ tootly and growly trumpet.

This nice, light version of ‘Undecided’ is a nice antidote to the laboured versions which are overplayed in the lindy hopping world. I loooove the way Shavers’ sense of humour blends perfectly with Wallers’. There’s a wheedly, whiney tone that winkles its way into your ear.

‘Effervescent Blues’ is probably one of the better known Kirby band songs in the lindy hop world, mostly because it was covered by the Mora’s Modern Swingtet. I like the rolling piano matched with the tootly melody. It has the light touch I associate with the Shavers/Kirby pairing, but it’s not as light and complicated-feeling as their later stuff.

‘Royal Garden Blues’ is tootly. It’s super fast and complicated. It really is a good example of what some people call ‘chamber jazz’. I love it. I like the way this group has a lot in common with Benny Goodman’s small groups, but actually has quite a different feel.

‘Come Easy Go Easy’ is completely different – Rosetta Howard isn’t subtle or tootly or tinkly. But Shavers’ whiney trumpet sets off her grittier style really nicely. This line up is again, quite familiar, and it echoes those earlier songs with blues singers. It’s interesting to see that Shavers was doing this in the same year as that busybusy Kirby group stuff.

Two years later, the Kirby Sextet has really set off on its course. This version of ‘St Louis Blues’ is complicated small group jazz. Hot, but also quite finessed.

I’m a big fan of Una Mae Carlisle. She’s got a sophisticated style, but can really get hot. Her timing is wonderful – she just sits back there behind the beat. I like the way she works with that little band, that’s pretty much the same gang as in all those other small Shavers’ groups.

Four years later, this Esquire all star band is something completely different. It’s commercial jazz at its most extravagant.

I added in ‘I cried for you’ just as an example of how Holiday’s style changed, and how she and Shavers still work together so well. This is magical, particularly with the addition of Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown.

‘Easy Does It’ is another of those ‘stunt bands’ put together in a kind of mishmash of big names. But this is a great song, and it always reminds me of Frankie Manning.

[EDIT]Trev has just pointed out that I missed the part where Charlie Shavers was with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band. This is a bit of an oversight on my part, to be explained by the fact that I didn’t actually own the 1937 MBRB stuff. This has been rectified.[/]

8tracks: Eleven charming songs

Eleven charming songs. Some of them are serious and some of them are not. I don’t think I’d count any of them as lindy hop songs. But all of them are suitable for dancing the fandango wearing only a marmot after drinking entire bottle of gin (as suggested by @ARPy_ and encouraged by @matchtrick.)

Image from Shorpy: http://www.shorpy.com/node/4782.

(title artist album year length)

Colored Aristocracy – Carolina Chocolate Drops – Colored Aristocracy – 2007 – 2:43

I’m A Little Bluebird – Hogtown Syncopators (Terra Hazelton, Jay Danley, Drew Jureka, James Thomson, Richard Whiteman) – Hogtown Syncopators – 2007 – 4:59

Honeymoon Suite – Suzanne Vega – Nine Objects Of Desire – 1996 – 2:56

Bleezer’s Ice-Cream – Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep – 2010 – 5:17

Pale Moon – Uncle Earl – Going to the Western Slope – 2004 – 3:55

Jalidong – Carolina Chocolate Drops – Colored Aristocracy – 2007 – 3:01

The Train And The River – Jimmy Giuffre Trio – The Sound Of Jazz – 4:46

Love A La Vangarde – Cheba Massolo – Coyazz – 2008 – 1:58

Mardi Gras In Gloucester – The Countdown Quartet – Sadlack’s Stomp – 2004 – 3:42

Dos Amigos, Una Fiesta – The Two Man Gentlemen Band – ¡Dos Amigos, Una Fiesta! – 2010 – 3:30

Team Zissou – Seu Jorge – The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions – 2005 – 2:32

8tracks: 10 songs by women singers that warrant a second look. Or narrowed eyes, at least.

I’ve just done a new 8tracks:

(linky, image from Shorpy).

These are just ten slower songs with women singers. Singers who have voices that make me stop and pay attention, or versions of songs that I’m just not sure about. These are probably, then, songs warranting a little suspicion. A second look, at least. Or narrowed eyes.

I put them together randomly, beginning with the Madeline Peyroux song. I saw her live a few years ago in Melbourne at a fancy theatre and she was a) really late on stage, and b) complete and utter rubbish. She really irritates me, and she fuddles her way through this really great song. That is why she’s here. Because, despite all that, the song is good because the rest of the band makes up for her mess. I’ve never played any of her stuff for dancers. Shame on me if I ever do.
Nellie Lutcher is a gun. She plays the piano.
Same with Martha Davis. This song is buttery, velvety magic.
Peggy Lee. Nuff said.
Same with Dinah Washington.
Ella Johnson: I keep forgetting her, and I shouldn’t.
Mildred Anderson, falls off the note every now and then, but her voice is amazing.
Koko Taylor will kick your arse up and down the stairs.
Molly Johnson, doing an unusual version of Summertime. I’m not sure if I like it.

(title artist album bpm year length)

Weary Blues Madeline Peyroux with Dean Parks, Larry Goldings, David Piltch, Jay Bellerose, Lee Thornburg, Scott Amendola Careless Love 92 3:41

That’ll Just About Knock Me Out Nellie Lutcher Hurry On Down 113 2:31

Kitchen Blues Martha Davis acc. by unknown BluesWomen: Girls Play And Sing The Blues 80 1947 3:05

Careless Peggy Lee and The Four Of A Kind Complete Peggy Lee and June Christy Capitol Transcription Sessions (Disc 4) 81 1947 2:06

Stormy Weather Buddy Johnson and his Orchestra with Ella Johnson Walk ‘Em 72 1951 3:19

Hey, Good Looking The Ravens and Dinah Washington Dinah Washington:the Queen Sings – Disc 4 – Please Send Me Someone To Love 132 1951 2:43

Hard Times Mildred Anderson No More In Life 67 1960 4:15

I’m Lost Mildred Anderson No More In Life 55 1960 4:36

I’m Gonna Get Lucky Koko Taylor South Side Lady (Live in Netherlands 1973) (Blues Reference) 58 1973 5:25

Summertime Molly Johnson Another Day 137 2002 4:23

8tracks: Crazy Ear Worms


Image from shorpy.

This is an 8tracks set of songs that drive me CRAZY: it is impossible to get these melodies out of my brainz. They all have shocking earworm melodies. They’re also all AWESOME!

title artist album bpm year length

W.P.A. Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions (1935-1946) (disc 6) 155 1940 2:48

I’m An Old Cowhand Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra (Russ Case, Charlie Teagarden, Jack Teagarden, Matty Matlock, Jack Cordaro, Eddie Miller, Roy Bargy, Carl Kress, Artie Miller, Ray Bauduc) The Complete Okeh and Brunswick Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer and Jack Teagarden Sessions (1924-1936) (disc 7) 179 1936 3:08

All The Jive Is Gone Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy Andy Kirk: Complete Jazz Series 1936 – 1937 206 1936 2:39

Charlie the Chulo – Take 2 Barney Bigard and his Jazzopators (Ray Nance, Juan Tizol, Ben Webster, Harry Carney, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Blanton, Sonny Greer) The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 10) 225 1940 3:10

Seven Come Eleven Benny Goodman Sextet (Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Christian, Artie Bernstein, Nick Fatool, Lionel Hampton) Charlie Christian: The Genius of The Electric Guitar (disc 1) 234 1939 2:47

Mutiny In The Parlor Gene Krupa’s Swing Band (Chu Berry, Helen Ward) Classic Chu Berry Columbia And Victor Sessions (Disc 1) 137 1936 3:06

Wipe It Off Lonnie Johnson and Clarence Williams acc. by James P. Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Spencer Williams Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts and Lollypops 122 1930 3:20

Sweet Violets Putney Dandridge and his Orchestra (Richard Clarke, Johnny Russell, Teddy Wilson, Arnold Adams, Ernest Hill, Cozy Cole) Complete Jazz Series 1935 – 1936 176 1936 3:06

Eddie Condon: Everywhere, All The Time

Direct link to 8tracks playlist.

Photo by William Gottlieb in 1946 from the Library of Congress William P. Gottlieb Collection.

Eddie Condon. Chicagoan guitarist who just went on and on and on. Telly, albums, night club. The jazz brand of win. Was also in some brilliant bands. I don’t actually have a lot of his stuff (considering just how much he recorded), and I’ve found that most of the best quality recordings I have are from the cheapy JSP box set of his stuff. Which I got from emusic, and so don’t have liner notes for. How frustrating! I did manage to sort most of the discographical details out using the Tom Lord Jazz Discography, but it’d just been easier to get a good Mosaic set.

Eddie Condon. Damn good stuff.

1. Bugle Call Rag The Rhythmakers (Billy Banks, Henry ‘Red’ Allen, Pee Wee Russell, Fats Waller, Eddie Condon, Jack Bland, Pops Foster, Zutty Singleton) Henry Red Allen ‘Swing Out’ 247 1932 2:45

2. A Shine On Your Shoes Jack Bland and his Rhythmakers (Henry ‘Red’ Allen, Tommy Dorsey, Pee Wee Russell, Eddie Condon, Pops Foster, Zutty Singleton) Eddie Condon: Classic Sessions 1927-49 (Volume 2) 241 1932 3:02

3. Sweet Thing Dick Porter and his Orchestra (Johnah Jones, Joe Marsala, Dick Porter, Eddie Condon, Ernest Myers, George Wettling) Eddie Condon: Classic Sessions 1927-49 (Volume 2) 104 1936 2:49

4. Keeps On A-Rainin’ Eddie Condon, Billie Holiday, Hot Lips Page, Horace Henderson, Jack Lesberg, George Wettling Eddie Condon: Classic Sessions 1927-49 (Volume 4) 70 1949 3:21

5. We Called It Music Eddie Condon, Louis Armstrong, Ben Webster Eddie Condon: Classic Sessions 1927-49 (Volume 4) 135 1949 5:12

6. Mahogany Hall Stomp Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five (JC Higgenbotham, Albert Nicholas, Charlie Holmes, Teddy Hill, Luis Russell, Eddie Condon, Lonnie Johnson, George ‘Pops’ Foster, Paul Barbarin) Hot Fives and Sevens – Volume 4 192 1929 3:16

7. Who Stole The Lock (On The Henhouse Door) Jack Bland and his Rhythmakers (Henry ‘Red’ Allen, Tommy Dorsey, Pee Wee Russell, Eddie Condon, Pops Foster, Zutty Singleton) I Was Born To Swing 243 1932 2:40

8. That’s A Serious Thing Eddie’s Hot Shots (Leonard Davis, Jack Teagarden, Mezz Mezzrow, Happy Caldwell, Joe Sullivan, Eddie Condon, George Stafford) Jack Teagarden: It’s a Serious Thing 107 1929 3:30

9. Ridin’ But Walkin’ Fats Waller and his Buddies (Henry ‘Red’ Allen, Jack Teagarden, Albert Nicholas, Larry Binyon, Eddie Condon, Al Morgan, Gene Krupa, Leonard Davis, JC Higgenbotham, Charlie

10. Holmes, Will Johnson, Kaiser Marshall) Jack Teagarden: It’s a Serious Thing 123 1929 2:34

11. There’ll Be Some Changes Made Chicago Rhythm Kings (Muggsy Spanier, Frank Teschmacher, Mezz Mezzrow, Joe Sullivan, Eddie Condon, Jim Lannigan, Gene Krupa, Red McKenzie) Mezz Mezzrow: Complete Jazz Series 1928 – 1936 205 1928 2:55

12. Yellow Dog Blues The Rhythmakers (Billy Banks, Henry ‘Red’ Allen, Pee Wee Russell, Fats Waller, Eddie Condon, Jack Bland, Pops Foster, Zutty Singleton) The Panic Is On 180 1932 3:20

1. Bugle Call Rag. A dancers’ favourite. I like this pared back version. The cool thing about these earlier recordings is that many of these bands with different names actually featured the same musicians.

2. Same year as Bugle Call Rag, Shine On Your Shoes has much the same personnel, and the catchiest melody ever.

3. This version of Sweet Thing is interesting, as the vocals are an obvious imitation of Fats Waller’s style, and many of these Chicago boys actually recorded or played with Fats Waller. Fats Waller’s version of this song is much subtler and more beautiful. The mugging on this track is a bit much, but it’s an interesting example of Waller’s influence.

4. Billie Holiday on Condon’s show. I think it’s a radio show – it was one of those I had to try to figure out using the discography, and I could have made a mistake. But it’s an interesting example of Condon’s ability to pull stars.

5. We Called It Music. There are a heap of versions of this roll-call type ‘stunt’ song, featuring the biggest names in jazz at the time. This is really just a showcase for various big names, and isn’t the best song on earth, but it’s an interesting example of this type of performance.

6. Mahogany Hall Stomp by Louis Armstrong’s Savoy Ballroom Five, of which Condon was a part. This interracial element is super interesting, as is the Savoy connection. This is a brilliant little song.

7. Who Stole The Lock was made famous by Naomi and Todd’s brilliant 2005 performance, and I remember it really kicked Melbourne lindy hoppers’ musical interests into a new realm. It’s excellent when big name lindy hoppers do performances to music you’re into, as it means that music gets a bit of PR that then smoothes the way for your DJing it. I remember it still took a while for Melbourne to get into this song and this style. Sigh.

8. Jack Teagarden. My second husband.

9. Ridin’ But Walkin’. This is an example of Fats Waller playing with these white Chicago boys. This is really quite a lovely song, and has a more ‘sophisticated’ sound than a lot of the stuff these various musicians did in smaller, rowdier groups.

10. I love the vocals to There’ll Be Some Changes Made. This is fun stuff.

11. More of Fats Waller with the white Chicago boys. This shit is hot.

DJ Snoopdoggydogpossum

About my DJing
I started dancing in Brisbane, Australia in about 1998, then moved to Melbourne where I started DJing in 2005. Now I live in Sydney where I DJ mostly for lindy hoppers and blues dancers. I do the odd large camp or exchange in other cities during the year, but mostly I play at local events for local dancers. I like organising dance events, and I’ve just discovered that I love performing. It’s a pity that I haven’t also discovered that I have a natural talent for performing, but I figure enthusiasm and shouting will suffice where grace and ability fall short.

I like hot jazz and swing music from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, but I also really like modern bands who recreate the sounds of those periods. I also have a shocking memory, so I’m always pleasantly surprised when I ask a DJ “What’s this great song?” and discover that I already own a copy of LCJO’s CJam Blues. I figure this excuses my overplaying particular songs in my collection. I also hope it explains my delight in songs which most of us have heard a million times before, rather than indicating a lack of imagination.

This drawing is a portrait my friend Scott Fraser drew of me for a birthday card, and I think it captures my DJing style. In a metaphoric sense, of course. The only vinyl I own is a collection of Stone Roses 12″ records, and the only martial arts I know involve paintings of generals on ponies. It is, however, an entirely accurate representation of my fashion sense. If vinyl is still cool, then I feel the wide-legged trouser is still ok.

DJing for the radio
I was asked to plan a show as the June 2011 Yehoodi Radio Guest DJ, so I put together a set of songs which I’d originally intended to be a cleverly themed collection of brilliantly rare and unusual songs (you can see the set detailshere. I discovered, unfortunately, that I don’t quite have the skills to pull this off, so I settled for a list of my favourite songs. There was quite a bit of talking in between songs. This was because I’d also just discovered I quite liked the sound of my own voice. FYI most of these talking bits were just about as long as it takes to make a cup of tea.

DJing for the radio: did like, would do again.

Bossing other DJs about
I coordinate teams of DJs for large swing dance events. At the moment I’m working on the 2011 Melbourne Lindy Exchange: Turning it up to 11 (check the FB page until the website goes live), where the idea is to convince a handful of Australia’s most arse-kickingest DJs to come make lindy hoppers dance like the crazy monkeys they are.

Most recently I’ve been Head DJ for the 2011 and 2010 Melbourne Swing Festivals, the 2009 Sydney Swing Festival and the 2009 Sydney Lindy Exchange. I was also involved in coordinating DJs for the Melbourne Lindy Exchange in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

I like putting together programs of DJed music which suit the event organisers’ musical goals but which also let DJs show off their best action. I believe in the best possible working conditions for all volunteers and DJs at dance events, and am quite happy to speak at length on this topic. Or any other topic, really. At a local level I’m currently bossing Sydney DJs for the twice-monthly Swingpit social dancing night, and you can email me if you’re interested in doing a gig.

Listen to me DJ!
If you’d like to hire me for a gig, drop me a line [dogpossum at dogpossum dot org]. If you’d to hear me DJ for dancers, you can catch me at Swingpit or Roxbury, at the infrequent Speakeasy gig, or at a lindy exchange. Or you can just listen to my 8tracks online for free.