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News and Views '10/'11 #8
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness

Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:23 am    Post subject: News and Views '10/'11 #8 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘10/’11 Installment # 8


Table of Contents:
1 Continuation of Dancing in the Big Easy
2 The New Orleans Dance Renaissance Weekend
3. Lindy in Houston
4. Coming Attractions


Rudy and I went to New Orleans longest running regular swing dance venue, “Rock ‘n’ Bowl” to dance to “Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys”. Amanda is cute, the guys (guitar, bass and drums) are not. Amanda, native New Orleanais, started playing violin at age 4. She is now 20, pretty, petite, shapely and comfortable on stage while being energetic to hyperactive. She plays violin pretty good and she sings on key with a chirpy voice. The music was Rock-flavored country/Cajun/?, and the bass guitar was over-amplified to distortion—did I mention that the music was Rock-flavored. The large crowd included no dancers, of any kind, to speak of—most people just stood around on the dance floor waiting for the liquor to kick in. Rudy and I danced to almost every tune (most too long and a mite too fast) for most of the first set, and then left before the liquor kicked in. I think Amanda has a future in music, but she’s not in my future.

Are you ready for this? We went to a Mid -Town New Orleans bar on Canal Street, by the name of “Chickie Wah Wah” to dance to a band by the name of “Asylum Street Spankers” (ASS) . The bar features music, no smoking and dancing on a tight concrete floor but only when a crowd does not stand on it. They expected 200 for ASS, and there were seats for maybe 35—got the picture? Does a “Blues Joint” come to mind? This iteration of ASS was a septet, augmented in the second set by New Orleans musical institution, Washboard Chaz, playing a B-Flat washboard with two affixed tuned tomato-juice cans. The 4 piece seated front line of ASS played all manner of stringed instruments and a saw. The three-piece standing back-line was fiddle, bass and abbreviated drum kit. The music was entertaining, and otherwise, ranged from raunchy ballads to neo-bluegrass/1920s-30s roots/ jazz/ blues,/ragtime/country/folk rock/progressive and comedy rock with more than a little being musically irreverent. ASS is a 16 years old Austin TX band playing its last New Orleans gig—they plan to dis-band in April 2011. Their leader and band progenitor, Christina Mars, kicked us off the sticky concrete dance floor because people seated behind us couldn’t see her, and later, she picked a fight with a heckler while the rest of the band cringed, obviously having previously witnessed her display a short-fuse, Buddy Rich disposition. We danced in a back aisle mostly out of sight of the band. The band used to be militantly acoustic. They probably dropped that when their following changed from folkies to boisterous drunks. There is good to excellent musical, theatrical and vocal talent, and for seven pieces with no written music, the band is agreeably tight. The band got its name from its early days of busking on Guadalupe St. in Austin (nee Asylum St. because it led to an insane asylum), and “spanker” was an early 1900s name for a musician who played an instrument vigorously and well.
This band has some legs. They have 8 current members and 37 former members. They’ve cut 2 DVDs and 15 music albums, all on their own label, “Spanks-a-Lot”. They premiered their theater production of “What? And Give Up Show Biz “ in a NYC off-Broadway theater, and they have an anti-war YouTube offering entitiled “Stick Magnetic Ribbons on your SUV” which drew over one million hits in the first month.
Our group of nine people balked at the $15 cover for ASS, but our leader, Tracy Sherry, doggedly negotiated our cover down to $10 per. Not much dancing, but a fun night.
First night, New Year’s Eve
The venue for both the first and second night dances was a large second story venue on Magazine Street with a fast fast floor—I was in heaven, as fast floors are kind to my knees. This New Years Eve dance was replete with good chow, free (pour-your-own) bar, and complementary noise-makers and champagne at midnight. A fitting LH end for 2010, and entry of 2011. It was a masked masquerade dance (is that a redundancy?) to “Jayna Morgan and the Sazerac Sunrise Jazz Band” with Jayna on vocals plus a quintet of trumpet, reeds, keyboard, bass and drums, an entertaining band, with an eclectic book, and all of it danceable.
Second night, The first day of 2011
It was a vintage/costume dance to “The Cottonmouth Kings” a quintet of bass saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, guitar and bass. This is a good driving rhythm band, and all played with good cheer, and since many of the Lindy Focus dancers had made it to New Orleans, the experience level on the floor was markedly bumped up. There were a bunch of dance contests held, and a costume/vintage attire run-way strut contest.
Third night, on Frenchmen Street
This was the first of two nights of the dancing sardines
We first went on to dance to the “Palmetto Bug* Stompers” in DBA (“Doing Business As”, Why? I don’t know). The band has the typical three horn Dixieland front line (clarinet, trumpet and trombone) and a washboard, bass and guitar rhythm section—good band, an abundance of good dancers, but not near enough room on a small distressed wood floor.
*To satisfy any curiosity, the “Palmetto Bug” is the southern name for the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), It is the only native of the three predominant cockroaches in the United States. The other two are aliens, the disgusting German and sewer-abiding Japanese cockroaches. The Palmetto bug is the largest and most handsome of the three, sporting long gorgeous antennae, a golden tan color, and measuring well over two inches.
Then it was on to “La Maison” to “Washboard Chaz Blues Trio” of blues harp, guitar and Chas on the rub-board- a fun band with more good dancers** on a larger but still too small wood floor in even more distressed condition.
**I fail to understand why, when LHers are packed tight onto a dance floor, a few insist on getting piggy with the obviously dear floor footage, by doing space-gobbling kicking Charleston and big swing-outs. Sigh! To cut them some slack, perhaps they have never had the experiences required for learning to dancing appropriately elbows-in and tight on a crowded floor which demands it.
But, before Chas came on, we were “treated” to a modern jazz trio of a good drummer, a good bassist and a weird steel guitarist who sounded like he was playing a Theremin down in a toilet bowl. I’m tellin’ ya. Ya hear every kind of jazz down here in New Ah-leens.
A fun three nights at Dance Renaissance, with good dancers aplenty, old and new friends and a wide array of highly danceable vintage jazz.
Finishing off the second night of the dancing sardines we went to dance to “Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns”. Meschiya used to be a vocalist with “The Loose Marbles.” She has beguiling voice quality and very nice phrasing. This took place in the second floor dance hall of Mimi’s Bar in the Marigny neighborhood****. A big turnout of excellent dancers made due on not nearly enough floor, but a wood floor with a fair to good surface.
****There are many named extant neighborhoods in the older sections of New Orleans, e.g. Marigny, Bywater, Treme, and, of course, Vieux Carre (Old Quarter a.k.a. the French Quarter). Across the river (West Bank-which is really the south bank) there is Algiers. And many named sections of the city are further fractionated into small traditional named neighborhoods. Tradition may not be everything in N.O. but, nonetheless, it’s very BIG.
A new venue opened for regular Thursday night dancing at The Chocolate Bar, which serves a wide variety of desserts, and provides a quarry tile floor with a danceable surface and live music 7-10P. The band was “Buzz and the Blue Cats” a trio of tenor saxophone, rhythm guitar and drums playing quite danceable standard swing music at reasonable tempos. Space was at a premium but a small cardre of good dancers shared politely.
The regular Houston Sunday night Lindy dance has moved back into the Melody Club, which has, I am to understand, repaired the air conditioning and fixed the roof leaks. This is a large venue with a oak parquet floor over concrete in excellent dance condition. There is adequate seating and off-street parking. There is an adjoining room for teaching, The acoustics are good as is the sound system. The DJed music was, by recent standards for Lindy dances, a little on the slow side (Oh! thank you), and the jam circle music was, I’m guessing, right at 200 bpm. The experience level of Houston dancers has continued to increase, in a large group of dancers. We stayed an extra half hour over our M.O. of two hours of steady dancing. So, we must have been enjoying ourselves.
FFI on Houston Lindy go to the calendar on www.hsds.com
1. Lindy in Austin
2. The Lone Star Championships in Austin
3. Maybe Lindy in Dallas/ft. Worth
Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper, (limping after 13 nights of dance in 24 days, whimper! Snivel!)
January 11, 2011, in Austin TX
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