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

it’s raining here, a bit

It’s raining a lot in Brisbane, and I’ve finally managed to ascertain the whereabouts of the various family members who’ve been Left Behind while the rest of us fled south. I am now also sure my Brisvegan friends are safe and well. No one is injured or missing, and we southerners are very relieved. Meanwhile, I’ve had a flurry of emails from people I first met in Brisbane, and who are spread out all over the country and world. I think the shocking stories from Queensland have reminded us of each other.

When that man on the 7:30 Report, that Stalwart Australian Man began to weep a little bit as he told us about not being able to stop to help people who were floating away on the roof of their cars or in boats, crying out for help, I wept a little bit as well.

I liked it that he let us see that all that talk about Stalwart Australian Men being stony faced and impervious to emotions was rubbish.

But then I saw a story about fires in … Western Australia? South Australia? where another Australian Man was telling us about how his home and everything he owned had been burnt by fires started by an arsonist, and how he just didn’t know what to do. He was weeping too, but he was wearing dark glasses, so it was hidden. I think that was even more touching.

It has been a hard week for Australians all over the place. But I keep thinking about those folk who live in truly remote communities, where there’re no buildings to be washed away, and no sewers to flood sewage into people’s backyards. I feel sorry for those people, because when the army arrived there, they had their money controlled by the government and nobody let them tell the story about calling out to neighbours to see if they were alright, and we didn’t see the footage of the stranger helping that family rescue their belongings.

I’m trying not to think those sorts of thoughts, but it’s making me angrier and angrier to hear stories about ‘strong’, ‘good’ communities that ‘help each other’ when there’s just as surely child abuse and drugs and violence and so on in those communities as well. But we don’t hear those stories, because these people are all white.

I am trying not to think like that. It’s not helpful.

I like the look of Anna Bligh. She’s turning out to be a fairly awesome leader, politician and all-round rock star. Be patient with each other. That’s what she said. And Kirsty’s right, it is a good thought.

In other news, I spend a lot of time in Ashfield these days. Sometimes I go to Burwood. Sometimes to the city, or perhaps to another neighbouring suburb. But mostly I stay here. I haven’t got a job (yet) (yet?) and I haven’t many prospects. But I don’t much mind. I am feeling healthy and well and have getting a lot of exercise. These are all good things.

Be patient with each other. This is what I think when someone who’s not from Ashfield goes shopping in the veggie shop. Be patient. Don’t take up so much space. Don’t try to make eye contact quite so desperately/aggressively. Take time to make a joke. Help someone reach something. Ashfield isn’t for everyone. The streets are fairly dirty, and the underpass, the one under the train tracks, where the children painted all the pictures and there are photos from the olden days, that underpass floods badly when it rains, and very quickly. And then as it dries out it smells badly.

Be patient with each other. This is a nice thought. I like it as an instruction for timing. For dancing. In swing, you get back there behind the beat. Wait. Don’t rush. Be patient. And let that man finish his solo.

Here, I’m wondering why there just aren’t any women in these bands. It’s like Australian jazz is just one big Bechdel fail. There’s an occasional one singing. Or someone hidden in the brass section. But, mostly, it’s just men.

It’s raining here a bit. Off and on, a clear day here and there, to help us dry things out. But it’s still raining in Brisbane. And there’s more flooding to come. Do be careful, friends.

here’s this one thing

Well, I have to do some practicing because I’m DJing tonight, so of course I’ve hopped straight onto the internet. Nothing makes you want to fill up your blog like a deadline for something else.

This morning my mother telephoned me to tell me she ‘is on the skype!’ and to ask me who I am on skype. I’m not sure she’s quite grasped the whole skype concept. But then I never use skype, and sure as shit can’t remember who I am on the skype. Apparently my niece (who wants to be a chef when she grows up) set my mother up on a recent visit to Tasmania. The mother is delighted. I’m not sure she’s actually used it yet, but she’s always delighted by the thought of a bargain or some sort of purchasing scam.

I never use the telephone to have actual vocal conversations any more, unless you count those long conversations with friends on my mobile while I’m waiting for a bus at the bus stop. I only make phone calls at the bus stop. Because you can’t read while waiting for a bus in Sydney because you have to be alert to hail Sydney buses and they won’t stop unless they have to. Not even if they see you standing at the stop. If you don’t have that magic public transport finger out to hail the fuckers, they’re just going to drive on by. Suck that up, commuter noob.

I do send a few text messages, mostly to my Squeeze to tell him I’m about to get on a bus, or have just been ignored by a bus driver at the curb. I do quite a bit of texting over exchange weekends when I’m working as the organisational nexus for a group of interstate dancers looking for noms. But otherwise it’s not my communications tool of choice.

The internet, though, well, let’s just say… fuck, let’s just say everything that occurs to us. In 140 characters or less. If you’re not following me on twitter (and I can’t see why you would), then you’ve dodged about sixty zillion full metal jackets. It seems I’m partial to a little annotation. Every thing I do or think, it has to be recorded for posterity. I’m fairly sure this is a natural consequence of working at home and spending quite a bit of time on one’s own, when one is the type of person who ordinarily likes a little high-impact interaction. I’ve noticed that if you’re also caring for a small child the twitter deluge is liberally seeded with poo talk. And mixed metaphors, obviously. I’m not caring for a small child, but I follow quite a few people who do. One clear advantage to following stay-home carers is the amount of kidspam you get in your tweetstream. I quite like a portrait of a child in fancy dress.

I also like the way a meme brings all the tweeple to the yard, just for a moment. Just for a second there, we’re all 13 year olds, laughing at the thought of Keenu Reeves in our trousers, or cheering each other up with very good reasons to be alive. I’m particularly fond of @jellyjellyfish’s #reasonstolive day (Thursdays, thanks, and Jelly’ll be setting the theme for you Wednesday night) because it stops me tweeting a heap of minor complaints and starts me tweeting a rapid-fire round of nice thoughts about things I like (see what I did there?). My one problem is that I’m always a little torn about whether something I really like actually constitutes a reason to live. I mean, I can live without the smell of fresh bread. So is it a reason to live? When I get to this point I usually give myself a kick in the pants and suggest I get back into the proper spirit of things. The point here is to list nice things to remind Jelly (and the rest of us) that life is good.

It is fairly good, you know, but it seems I’m having trouble reminding myself of that right now. I’ve had a couple of pretty nasty anxiety moments lately, and they’ve managed to bed down in my shoulder and neck muscles to give me a headache. Haven’t had a bad anxiety headache in a long time, but all this thinking about competitive solo dance matched with the final round of assignments in the final semester of my postgrad diploma seems a fairly good beginning for a nasty round of bad headaches. Well, it would have been a start, but by gum, I Took Charge. After a little round of public anxiety-bleating, I managed to remind myself that Life is actually Good. And I did it with a little massage (nothing reminds you that life is nice like a pair of strong, comforting hands unknotting your muscles), a little chocolate ice cream (nothing is quite as good as a little unhealthy comfort eating) and of course a nice serve of the right type of low impact muscle stretches. All enabled, of course, by my very wonderful Squeeze.

So I figure it’s worth a (rare) blog post to announce that, even though there are moments of flushed, heart-pounding, scurrying-about-picking-things-up-and-putting-them-down, short-tempered, muscle-tensed anxiety, there’s also an awful lot of warm water, strong hands, good reading and gentle conversation. Life is pretty nice.

digital resources… mostly

This post is really just to track a range of online sources I’ve used today. I’m really interested in the relationship between different tools, and between online and face to face tools. I want to frame this post/discussion by pointing out that swing DJs are interested in music primarily as dancers and as DJs for dancers. So their interest in music and dance and history is almost always tied to the physical experience of dancing. And dancing is ALL about the body, no matter how intertubed you are. Dancers also tend to have quite extensive online networks, networks of friends and acquaintances which crisscross their country and the world. I just know that if Peter wasn’t actually playing music as I type, he’d be chiming in with useful tweeted comments and links.
The body pwns the intertubes any day.

I read this thread on SwingDJs this morning, which directed us to: this story about hot jazz in a full-text issue of Life on Google books.

I replied in the thread on swingdjs, but also in a post on my own blog, here.

Reading the list and thinking about hot jazz as I wrote that post, I was reminded of things I’d read in books (!), one of which is also available in full text on google books here.

I have also found full text versions online, but I can’t remember where. If you start with The Jazz Study Group @ Columbia and Jazz Studies Online you’ll probably eventually find them all.

But while I was reading these things in books, I came across references to a series of photographs and films which are very popular with dances – by Gjon Mili. Mili is best known amongst dancers for his short film Jammin’ the Blues which is available on youtube along with other films he made featuring jazz musicians (I link them here.)

There’re some iconic photos of dancers in Life magazine in their ‘Life goes to…’ series. These are available in Google/Life’s online collection. Gjon Mili also did some very interesting photos as part of a photo shoot for Esquire in a Jam Session series.
I’ve already written about magazines and jazz ad nauseum.
Meanwhile, that original Life article listed ’30 good hot records’. Which made me think about canons. And discographies as canons. There are various online versions of discographies, but the good ones aren’t freely available online. Boo. Hiss.

Canons and discographies made me think about following particular musicians, and all this talk about ‘essential’ lists of jazz musicians and songs made me think about the Great Day In Jazz photo, which has a documentary film attached, and which Rayned used to structure his Yehoodi Radio show, which you could stream online.

After I’d written that post earlier today, I was still thinking about these issues. And I remembered seeing a note attached to an Australian photo from the 20s in an online collection. I eventually found the photo on flickr.com in their flickr commons (with which I am obsessed) by typing ‘bands jazz sydney’ into the search box, getting this list. This is the photo. I was particularly interested in the comment that black American bands were banned in Australia from the date of this photo (1928) until 1955 (when Louis Armstrong visited Australia). I wondered if it was true.

So I asked twitter. This led to a discussion between (mostly) The SwingDJ, DJRussellTurner, a discussion witnessed by all the people who followed one or all of us on Twitter.

TheSwingDJ was sceptical.

DJRussellTurner tweeted clarified the Rex Stewart thing.

DJRussellTurner suggested a distinction between ‘band’ and ‘musicians’, and then linked to an an article by Alec Morgan in the journal Scan which used the original photo and added

But, not all musical imports were welcomed by Sydney’s moral guardians. Sonny Clay’s renowned Jazz band, The Colored Idea, arrived here from the USA in 1928 to play the burgeoning nightclubs. After a couple of white women were found in a hotel room with the Afro-American musicians, the band was escorted back to the ship and told never to grace our shores again. While the occasional black musician was allowed in after careful scrutiny for a limited period, Afro-American bands were not permitted back until the mid 1950’s when Louis Armstrong and his band pushed the colour-bar down.

I suddenly decided I needed to know more, and I certainly needed to verify this idea that ‘black bands were banned in Australia’ during this period. The important question here is why? Why did I want to be sure? Partly because this would indicate interesting things about:

  • race and racism in Australia (White Australia Policy)
  • jazz and jazz culture in Australia (jam sessions, playing with and listening to other musicians is central to the exchange and cultural transmission of creative, ideological and discursive forms. A lack of African American musicians in Australia would go some way to supporting my continuing suspicions about the whiteness of Australian jazz. And, consequently, white jazz dance.
  • the music and entertainment industry in Australia.

I had a bit of a squizz in various online sources, but eventually decided I needed to look at some more newspapers from the day. These sorts of (albeit somewhat unreliable) primary sources can be helpful.

So I started simple, and followed this link from the flickr page. Not a whole lot of help right now, but it would be worth following up the original photographer.

Then I remembered someone on twitter mentioning an online tool which allowed you to search online Australian primary sources. I couldn’t remember who it was who put me onto it (I still can’t), so I just followed a bunch of links from likely sources.

Until I saw a name I recognised: Trove. And started searching for “Sonny Clay”.

I found this newspaper article on Trove which outlined accusations about the musicians’ union from the ‘banned band”s representatives.

Meanwhile, TheSwingDJ confirmed our suspicions but also noted that Rex Stewart wasn’t black, according to the musicians’ union (I wish I had his reference for this, actually).

He also tweeted other interesting tidbits including one about ‘good reputations’ and ‘paying’ to be allowed to play.

And then there were various comments on twitter from peeps ‘listening in’ to our 3-way chat, including comments about the photos as resources for fashion, Trove’s value for private research projects and so on. I asked for help RE Trove’s browser-compatability as I wanted to edit the scanned text of the article, but couldn’t log in. Various tweeps offered tips and feedback.

Then I revisited DJRussellTurner’s link to the Scan article and the original flickr photo page and discovered that the author of the Scan article had a blog where she discussed this photo and issue. Her thinking about this issue led to her discussion of flappers and gender here and here.

I then checked our her blog’s ‘about’ page and discovered she’s at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at UQ where I did my BA and MA and where I still have friends working.

In one of those blog posts she notes in a caption for (a repro of that original photo from flickr):

(Members of Sonny Clay’s Coloured Idea (including the singer Ivie Anderson) on deck as they pull into Sydney, 1928)

And this made me think: Ivie Anderson! Best known (in my world) as a singer with Duke Ellington’s band. So I did a crappy search of my music (using the wrong date) to see if she recorded with Ellington during this period. I also scanned the photo carefully to see if I recognised her. I was, pretty much, guessing. But I was using photos of Anderson I found online to try and compare them with the women in those two original photos.

TheSwingDJ beat me to it with this link to a source many Swing DJs use quite often. That entry for Anderson includes:

Born in California, young Ivie received vocal training at her local St. Mary’s Convent and later spent two years studying with Sara Ritt in Washington, DC. Returning home she found work with Curtis Mosby, Paul Howard, Sonny Clay, and briefly with Anson Weeks at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in Los Angeles. She also found work in vaudeville, touring the country as a dancer and vocalist in the Fanchon and Marco revue, starring Mamie Smith, and with the Shuffle Along revue. She was featured vocalist at the Culver City Cotton Club before leaving to tour Australia in 1928 with Sonny Clay. Returning after five months down under she organized her own show and toured the U.S. In 1930 she found work with Earl Hines.It was while appearing with Hines that Ellington first heard her sing. He hired her in February 1931, and she quickly became a fixture of the orchestra’s sound.

(I’ve bolded the important bits.)

At this point, we’re still thinking about and looking up sources. Meanwhile, colleagues from the CCC at UQ have chimed in about the author of that blog, discussions about archiving this sort of research are happening, I’m listening to 1930s Ellington featuring Ivie Anderson and I’m just about to look up youtube for some clips of Anderson to see if I can check her out more thoroughly.
But first, I think I’ll go dancing.

MLX9 set 2

Because I <3 Timmy. Last night I did my second set, starting at 2.40am. It wasn't the best I've ever done, it wasn't as good as last night. Here's my list of excuses:

  • I started my period and I was beginning to feel really rough. Also, a little angry. Don’t DJ angry.
  • The preceding DJ was using the booth monitor which was sitting next to me where I was preparing my for my set. It was very loud and full of bass and jiggled my sore menstrual guts in a painful way. Did not want.
  • Everything seemed really loud. It did not please me. But I turned the volume waaay down when I started my set.
  • I felt really good about the job I did the night before. Quite a few people had said they were really looking forward to my work in my second set. The pressure was on, and I felt a bit under the pump. And I crumbled.
  • I was cold. The night before I was boiling. But last night I was cold. So I wore Scott’s (tiny, kindly leant) jacket and it squeezed me.
  • I really wasn’t on top of my music; I didn’t have enough badass stuff at the front of my brain.
  • I couldn’t really find my focus til the last part of the night

I have plenty more excuses, but these are the important ones.
MLX9 28/11/09 2.40am-4:00am
Froggy Bottom Jay McShann and his Band with Jimmy Witherspoon 155 1957 Goin’ To Kansas City Blues 2:37
Sent For You Yesterday (And Here You Come Today) Count Basie and his Orchestra with Jimmy Rushing 172 1952 Complete Clef/Verve Count Basie Fifties Studio Recordings (Disc 2) 3:13
Blues In Hoss’s Flat Count Basie and his Orchestra 144 1958 Chairman Of The Board [Bonus Tracks] 3:13
Flat Foot Floogie Carol Ralph 186 2005 Swinging Jazz Portrait 3:44
Sweet Nothin’s Midnight Serenaders 154 2009 Sweet Nothin’s 3:14
I Ain’t That Kind of a Baby Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys 159 2008 Ready For You 2:59
Putting On The Ritz The Cangelosi Cards 195 Clinton Street Recordings, I 3:38
Shake That Thing Preservation Hall Jazz Band 157 2004 Shake That Thing 6:30
Deep Trouble Les Red Hot Reedwarmers 179 2006 King Joe 2:55
Tishomingo Blues Carol Ralph 128 2005 Swinging Jazz Portrait 4:15
Davenport Blues Adrian Rollini and his Orchestra with Jack Teagarden 136 1934 Father Of Jazz Trombone 3:14
The Harlem Stride Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra 199 1939 Live At The Savoy – 1939-40 3:29
Whoa Babe Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra (Lionel Hampton voc) 201 1937 The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions 1937-1941 (disc 1) 2:53
Everything Is Jumpin’ Artie Shaw and his Orchestra 170 1939 Self Portrait (Disc 1) 5:07
Fifteen Minute Intermission Cab Calloway and his Orchestra 165 1940 Cab Calloway and his Orchestra 1935 – 1940 vol 02 (disc 04 – New York-Chicago 1939-1940) 2:54
Just Kiddin’ Around Artie Shaw and his Orchestra 159 1941 Self Portrait (Disc 3) 3:21
Blackstick Noble Sissle’s Swingsters with Sidney Bechet 183 1938 The Young Bechet 2:46
Peckin’ Johnny Hodges and his Orchestra 165 1937 The Duke’s Men: Small Groups Vol. 1 (Disc 2) 3:10
Truckin’ Henry ‘Red’ Allen and his Orchestra 171 1935 Henry Red Allen ‘Swing Out’ 2:54
Ain’t Nothin’ To It Fats Waller and his Rhythm 134 1941 Last Years (1940-1943) (Disc 2) 3:10
Light Up Buster Bailey 189 2008 Complete Jazz Series 1925 – 1940 2:48
Chasing Shadows Louis Prima, Pee Wee Russell, Frank Pinero, Garry McAdams, Jack Ryan, Sam Weiss 170 1935 Louis Prima Volume 1 3:04
Algiers Stomp Mills Blue Rhythm Band (Lucky Millinder, Henry ‘Red’ Allen, J.C. Higgenbotham, George Washington, Edgar Hayes) 219 1936 Mills Blue Rhythm Band: Harlem Heat 3:08
Solid as a Rock Count Basie and his Orchestra with The Deep River Boys 140 1950 Count Basie and His Orchestra 1950-1951 3:04
The preceding DJ had been playing a set of favourites and crowd pleasers, all of which were at moderate to slow tempos. The set began a bit old school, but moved into a more mixed, and then more contemporary set. The floor was full the entire set. I think that this is where my personal priorities as a DJ become mixed: do you take a risk and play a mixed tempo set and really push dancers, so that the hardcore kids really stretch _and_ the newer/slower/injured/older/not full-on dancers get some fun? Or do you play a set pitched primarily at the latter group and guarantee a floor full?
I didn’t get the floor as full as the previous DJ, but I did hit the 3am kill zone, and lost a few folk. There was a full blues room with some great DJs, and blues is almost as popular as lindy at MLX, so that room was very full, and there’s not a lot of lindy/blues cross over once people are in a particular groove. Also, I didn’t really get it together. I couldn’t quite find my groove. I think, basically, I was too tired for the job. Goddess help me with my 3-5am set tonight. But I just couldn’t quite find my flow, couldn’t quite get in the zone, couldn’t really get it together. So I felt as though I wasn’t really _with_ the dancers, and it really showed. But, ah well. What can you do?
The last song of the last set was a soul/funk track, which meant that I could either change gear without the clutch or find a transitional number. I began with an old fave and my workhorse starter: Jimmy Witherspoon doing some chunking, in your face hi-fi jump blues. I should have realised when I began with that, that I wasn’t quite happening. But I had a short list of about 30 possible songs, and that also tells me I couldn’t quite get a handle on the dancers.
I wanted to get to old school, big band lindy hopping action. So I went with 50s Basie and Rushing as a transition.
Then I got distracted and confused. Rather than going straight to someone solid like Lunceford before getting into more unusual stuff, I was pulled off-course by Carol Ralph (an excellent Australian act). I think part of me was thinking about the previous DJ’s populist approach, and I wanted to maintain that general, all-crowd interest with something with vocals and hi-fi. It’s a great song – a really great version of a well-known fave – but it pulled me away from my mission.
But from there I figured wtf, and did a little Midnight Serenaders loveliness. A little saucy, but kind of quirky and accessible. Followed by Janet Klein, who does similar stuff. Then the glorious Cangelossi Cards. This little chunk of three songs (which a friend described as ‘old fashioned radio style songs’) went down really well. It was a lovely room to play at that moment. Willing to experiment with quirky stuff, interested in the more complex musicianship and arrangement, enjoying the funny/suggestive lyrics. So what did I do wrong?
At this point I thought ‘I could do an entire set of new bands.’ But I discovered that that stuff wears a little. I should have moved from the Cards to something different. But I went with the Preservation Hall. That version of Shake that Thing is fab – long, though – full of energy, lots of shouting. But LONG. And while it filled the floor, it did tire everyone out. It also tends to get a bit wearing, what with all the shouting.
The Les Red Hot Reedwarmers was positioned wrongly. It’s a great song, and goes down well, but it was too great a mood change from the Pres Hall. I should have played it directly after the Cards instead. It’s kind of a light, wacky feeling version of a really nice song. But it really conflicted with the Pres Hall. I should have gone into something solidly lindy hop or solidly big band or solidly olden days here instead.
So I figured I’d fucked up a bit. The floor was emptying. We were right in the middle of the kill-zone: 3.15/3.20. If you don’t keep them on the floor here, they go home. If you do keep them on the floor, you have to be careful with their energy. Let it get too low with too much slow or mellow stuff and they get tired and sit down. Let it get too high and full on and they get overkill and tired and sit down. And when they sit down two or three songs at that time, they go home.
Ralph was ok here, but it was just a little slow. And a bit too in-your-face, really. Which is in contrast with the way this song usually works – it’s a good floor-saver earlier in the night.
Then I played Davenport Blues. Again. Yes, I’d played it the previous night as well. I love it more than anything. And I wanted an old school medium energy song that kind of chugs along and then builds a little. But I just couldn’t think of anything else. Which means that a) I was too tired, b) I was too uninspired, c) I don’t know my music quite well enough atm, d) I was just not _on_. Sigh. It’s moments like this that I get frustrated with myself. I know I can do better, but I just don’t quite bring it off.
So here I thought: ‘ok, wench, fuck this shit up properly; get those motherfuckers dancing. Do what you do, don’t try to do what other people do.’ Thank you Ella with Chick’s band, live @ the Savoy in 1939 (not ’41, Brian :P ). Chunking fun that did what I wanted.
It did clear out some of the lagging tireder not-hardcore-lindy hoppers, but then I was thinking ‘ok, can we dance badass at this point, please?’ I figured that the earlier part of the night had been more accessible, it was time to really push things. Which is kind of dodgy thinking, I know. But we are at the biggest, most hardcore lindy exchange in the country.
Whoa Babe has a fabulous intro. But it drags in the middle. It made people crazy, but then it screwed them over and let them down instead of sustaining them with crazy energy. I should have chosen something a little more badass all the way through. This is another point where my tiredness and not-on-ness really showed.
So I decided to save it with something familiar and live and pumping. That Shaw track is great. It’s long, but it’s really worth playing because it’s so energetic and great. It’s also a very accessible tempo/energy combination. And it worked. Unfortunatey the version of Fifteen Minute Intermission was almost incoherent audio mess on the sound system. Sigh. DJfail. Again.
The next Shaw track saved me again, but then I fucked it with Blackstick. I had had reservations about that one, but I thought ‘it’s high energy, it’s a fave.’ I should have reminded myself ‘it’s squawky, New Orleans flavoured and kind of unrelenting’ a little more loudly.
Then I just thought ‘Hamface, what would YOU like to dance to right now? What do you love?’ And I decided: something lighter-feeling (ie not a wall of sound or face-punching intensity). Something musically a bit interesting. Something at an easy tempo. Something with a lovely riff that just makes you feel really good. A sort of melodic sweet-spot that makes you feel really good with its repetitive, charming gentleness. Peckin’ was just right.
I love to follow this song about a dance move (where there’s a line dissing truckin’) with this spunky Red Allen version of another song about a dance move. I love it that they’re both kind of sell-out pop song tracks about pop culture. But that I love the scrunchy vocals in Peckin and I love the kind of lazy, sardonic, vocal part of Truckin. They sort of tip the sell-out factor on its side. This version of Truckin really _feels_ like the dance step. Sort of slidey, scuff-and-drag shuffle with a quirky finger in the air – the lighter melody waggling over a chunky, drag-shuffle rhythm. And Red Allen making it all work together.
And then my fave Waller song. A slightly bigger group for him, and a nice, easy tempo. Friendly, fun, dirty lyrics. It’s a great song. And people loved it. Not quite selling out to the Waller craze because it’s a bigger band. But mostly selling out. But then: I loved Waller when all the kids were into the Soup Dragons.*
I thought Light Up was one of those Herrang-fad songs that everyone knew. Perhaps not. It’s a great little song, that did go down well. It has a big break in the middle with almost utter silence. I hadn’t been paying attention, so when it came on the crowd yelled and I was caught hopping. At first I thought ‘hey, what’s gone wrong now?’ and couldn’t figure out the error – it was still playing. All was cool. And then it started again, and everyone laughed and yelled and it was all cool.
At this point, I had them. The floor was filling for every song, regardless of tempo. I had found my groove. Lighter feel, not in-your-face. Mixing tempos. Interesting musicianship. Quirky not-big-band, mid-30s coolitude. It was also about then I was told I had to wrap it up. Which was frustrating but also a very great relief. I like to finish on a high note, and I don’t like to drag a set out to the point where there’s no one dancing but a couple of friends. There was a general outcry from the dance floor, but I was very firm. And then Cheng was very firm. I let them know we had to stop to give the volunteers a chance to clean up. It was also 4am and there were a lot of people there and a lot of junk to clean out of the room. They wouldn’t have had that room done til 5am at least.
Meanwhile the back room was continuing with blues. We went home because we were EXHAUSTED.
I have to add: Yvette Johansson and Andy Swan did their mid-50s Ella and Louis show at the evening dance, and it was just GREAT. I sat and watched and had a lovely time. I danced about four songs (I’m not dancing much – I need to keep an eye on my stupidly swollen ankle), and those four songs were fucking amazing. It was a really good show. They were so professional, Yvette has great stage presence and really commands the band, calling the solos, checking the tempos, working the crowd. She’s a gem. A lot of people commented on these things, and it was really nice to see how the dancers really responded to her/their work. There was a massive ovation at the end of their second set, and I did think they were going to demand an encore right then and there. That second set was really tops. And the third was tops. Talking to Yvette, she said that she’d planned a mellower, gentler set of favourites for the first one, then heated it up for the kids in the second. That’s a dancer/seasoned band-for-dancer speaking right there. It was also nice to see how she worked the dancers’ energy and really engaged with them, talking and interacting with them from the stage.
I have really enjoyed the MLX9 bands: I think I’d really rather there were bands at each event, and far less DJs.
But I have also heard some nice DJing. Loz Yee had only just begun DJing when I left Melbourne, and in the last year she’s really started kicking arse. I enjoyed here band break sets an awful lot. Sharon Callaghan was a gun, but unfortunately wasted on a first set to an empty room (sigh). Same goes for Sarah Farrelly. But I made an effort to be there to hear them, and I enjoyed them both.
I have also pretty much decided that the sistahs are pwning the blokes, DJing wise. Justine and Alice at SSF/SLX, then the Loz/Sharon/Sarah trifector at MLX. But there’s always tonight, and I’m sure the fellas will bring it.
*I also like their old stuff better than their new stuff. And I listen to bands that haven’t even been formed yet.

look, no hands

I’m copying Alice’s work and having a bash at some photoshop tutorials. You MUST go and look at Alice’s work – it’s freakin’ sweet. Mine is a little dodgier:
If you can’t see all the image, best to click through to the permalink.
It’s not really finished. Basically, it took me hours to get to the point where I had the figure on the textured background. I’m not all that happy with that part – there’s not enough texture on the figure (mostly because I gave up on the layering). The text is shitty, but that’s because I gave up before I got to the bit in the tutorial about adding layers of ‘paper’.
I’m really enjoying it, but I have to follow the instructions _exactly_ because I don’t know very much about photoshop at all. I’m just a baby with layers, buggered if I know anything about masks or any of the fancy shit. So, really, I don’t actually know anything, I’ve just been copying. But I’m going to have another go to see if I can actually _learn_ as I go.
I quite like the colours (this whole image is probably the result of too much Deadwood this week), but I _really_ like the colours on Alice’s latest effort.
My eyes are kind of square, too.
Ok, here are my sources (and most of them I just found via Alice or the original tutorial):
The basic picture of the woman is from facebook, and it’s a picture of Michelle from Sugar Blue Burlesque.
Then I added a hare’s head from stock.xchng.
The background paper was also from stock.xchng.
The sunray thing was from deviantart.com.
There’s a bit of nice wallpaper in there (as in the stuff you put on walls) fromlovelamp.
There’re some brushes (now, there’s something I’d never used before) from brusheezy.
I think the font is from dafont.
I’m going to have a bash at some more of these photoshop tutorials. I wish I was a bit more visually creative, or that I had something specific to design for. I just couldn’t think of anything to write on this one (it’s pretty dumb, I know).
I’m also a bit concerned about putting animal heads on women’s bodies. Especially on burlesque bodies. There’s something weird there. And I’m not entirely comfortable with burlesque as it is – my politics suggest that there’s really nothing all that ok about stripping and women dancing erotically for (predominantly) male audiences. I mean, just ’cause it’s old timey stripping, don’t mean it _isn’t_ stripping and _doesn’t_ carry all the accompanying problems that stripping carries generally.
… part of me is also thinking about the Dietrich film ‘Blonde Venus’ and all that feminist film stuff about female bodies as ‘pieces’ cut up by the male gaze. I also worry about animal headed women not being able to ‘return’ the male gaze.
But there you go. I dare say my using that picture of a woman I know without permission is also problematic.
I have a couple of ideas for animal headed men, but I think I’m kind of over them. We’ll see, though. I think I’d like to go for a more modern look as well – I’m a bit over that dirty look. But it is useful to know how to do it, now.
But what _I’d_ really like to know how to do, is add those ‘pieces of paper’ with the text on them. I also discovered that I’d forgotten how to do shaped text (as in following a free form line). Sigh.
…and, my foot is still bung. It’s about three weeks, now, and I’m only up to 10 minute walks. They make my foot hurt and hurt, though. But yesterday I rode my bike and it didn’t hurt my foot. Ace. I still have a bit of a cold from MLX, but I’m absolutely dying of cabin fever and lack of exercise. I MUST do some sort of exercise before I go nuts. I also plan to get into yoga again after christmas. My house-bound-ness has made me very dull, I’m afraid, so nothing more from me. There’s more Deadwood to watch. :)

the legend of D4E

Whenever I see D4E (which is a few times a year at a lindy exchange – in Sydney, in Perth, in Melbourne) we plug our earbuds into each other’s mobile music devices and play each other music.
This is where I learn about music that isn’t jazz and wasn’t released in 1992 on Shock Records.
I only play music – he makes it.
the legend of D4E Hip Hop Mixtape
(I’m not sure if he rocks, though)