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News and Views '10/'11 # 9
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 495
Weekly Avg: 1.0115

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:29 am    Post subject: News and Views '10/'11 # 9 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘10/’11 Installment # 9

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT

Table of Contents:
1. A Little over Half of Fifteen Days in Austin, including the “Lone Star Championships”
2. Potpourri
3. Coming Attractions

A LITTLE OVER HALF OF FIFTEEN DAYS IN AUSTIN, INCLUDING THE “LONE STAR CHAMPIONSHIPS”

Fifteen days in Austin is too much for one “News and Views”, and so, the last 7 days of Austin will come in the next “News and Views”.
Trust me, 15 days is not near enough time to dance at every dance, and on every floor in every club, lounge, joint and honky-tonk which has a floor, and also not nearly enough days to hear all the astoundingly good music, but then, we will have an additional 14 days in Austin during February, and perhaps another two weeks in March, and so, we may git er all done before we have to head north. Do you get the sneaky suspicion that Austin has become a must destination city for the LindyJazzMobile?
This is the fourth “Lone Star Championships” (LSC) and we have been to the last three—I have been planning our recent winter itineraries around this event, because it’s a good ‘un—good attendance by great dancers, live music 4 nights running, and a gold-plated venue, but more about that later.
In addition, happy happy, our good friend and LA DJ/LHer, Robert Vangor, flew in for his 3rd LSC. And more happy happy as we had a MN mini-reunion photo-op for Rudy and I, plus ex-patriots, Karen Turmen, Peter Strom, Michael Faltisek and Amy Johnson. Hey! MN testified at Lone Star: Karen took a 1st in Invit. J&J; Peter a 2nd and 3rd in Invit. Strictly and Invit. J&J, respectively, but I am getting ahead of myself…..
LSC THURSDAY, is the Lone Star kick-off dance at “The Fed” thrown by the combined Austin LH scene. We have often danced in The Fed, but I have never seen more people in that Ballroom; truly too numerous to count, but I guess over 400.
The ballroom is a very large and tall, gorgeous, well-lighted room with a wall-to-wall oak floor in very good dance condition and which, in my experience, has always has been that way, See, the room is two stories high, and, thus, it easily dissipates sweaty-dancer humidity.
The band was a trad. jazz quintet, with a classic three horn front line (clarinet, trumpet, trombone) and a two-piece rhythm section, bass and banjo. The band might be called the “Way-Two-Too Quintet”as they basically had TWO tempos, one WAY TOO fast for my plodding feet, and the other WAY TOO slow for my style of impatient dancing. That said, the dancers loved the music, which was a wonderful exemplification of everything Lindyites want—driving rhythm, short numbers, good musicianship, and bitchin’ high musical energy.
I pulled-up lame after a couple of hours, and I will, on Austin dance days, hereafter augment my regular double doses of Celebrex with “Aspercreme” unction on both knees, plus aspirin as needed—Tylenol just doesn’t get it any more. Whine! Snivel!
A few words are in order about “The Fed”. It’s the mansion headquarters of the “Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs.” Completed in 1931, it’s an excellent example of massive Georgian Revival Architecture, and, thus, it has been placed on the National Registry of Historic places. To call “The Fed” elegant is under-statement indeed.
Not to go Austin Chamber of Commerce on you, but, hear this, many dear Lindy Scenesters and weep. “The Fed” is the venue for all regular Austin swing dances (two per week) , plus the annual Austin Lindy Exchange and Lone Star Championships. It has a huge ballroom and several other smaller rooms for dancing, and It’s got to be one of the major reasons, why Austin has such a cookin’ hot Lindy scene. Other Austin plus factors are the presence of so much inexpensive danceable live music (Where astoundingly good jazz musicians often play for what’s in the tip bucket.), and, of course Texas University is in Austin. Austin is not one of those huge Lindy-dispersed cities (you know who you are), and finally, Austin is as (how shall I put this?), comfortable as old shoes. The recession has not hit here yet—e.g. music clubs are packed and jazz musicians work 6 nights a week. However, Austin isn’t going to get off that easy—the rush hour traffic is either snail-crawling or grid-locked, i.e., Austin ranks 3rd worst in the nation for rush hour traffic.
LSC FRIDAY was danced to “Giant City” a Hot Jazz/New Orleans trad jazz sextet which played a preponderance of fast numbers. It was tiring but the 320 preregistered and many walk-ins seemed to enjoy the musical energy. Competition is the prime reason for this event, and both the ability and numbers of contestants has gone up every year. This is not a cheap event, and so, only the dance-committed attend, and it is very satisfying to have that many people in one room and not have to even think about cherry-picking partners. I danced with many followers I didn’t recognize and found, to my distinct pleasure, that most of them were better dancers, by far, than I am. Sadly, for followers, there were many more followers than leaders, but happily for this leader, I had outstanding dances with almost every woman who smiled back at me.
SATURDAY, (A DANCE DAY TWOFER) 3PM AT THE CONTINENTAL CLUB. We went to the free matinee (3PM) show for the Redd Folkaert quartet, with hirsute Redd on guitar, plus held bassist, pianist and a drummer who sits back there playing shuffles all afternoon (where in the hell you gonna find one of them these days?) All four are top jazz musicians, and all can and do sing well. Redd is a marvel on electric bass and sings with a timbre cross between Willie Nelson and Merle Haggart. If you come to Austin and want to hear the best of Western Swing, don’t miss 3PM Sunday at the Continental Club. In years past, I have described at length the grimy decreped appearance of the club and its furniture, but, to my horror, I found they went and re-upholstered the garish red-plastic lounges while I been gone. Blasphemy! Damn! Next thing you know, they’ll sweep the floors and mop the restrooms. Of course, I have swore before thet I ain’t gonna do no more two-fer dance day, but, of course, I lied, cuz we’uns are in Austin ‘n’ I jus’ cain’t hep mysef.
SATURDAY LSC. Back to the Fed for the “Gould and Boyle Burninators” , a trad jazz swing octet of clarinet, sax , trombone front line, and RS of drums, bass, keyboard and two guitars (?). This band was kind to me. They alternated numbers; one too fast and one just-right medium tempo. So I spent half of my predictably-intermittent half of the evening on the floor, and, otherwise, in the hallway drinking water and schmoozing. Rudy, the dance animal, stayed on the floor.
SUNDAY LSC . The band “Soul Track Mind” was a Mo-Town/Soul band, and I found no reason to dislike the musicianship of this octet led by a male singer, but that music does not reach me in any way, and it did not beckon me to the floor. I will be honest, my feet don’t know what to do with all of the extra drum accents in the byzantine rhythms found in soul, mo-town and funk. Further, mercifully, I was drunk back when “Jump and Shout” was popular. Even though the music quickly drove about half of the dancers off the floor, the remaining ones seemed to dig it just fine. I waited, impatiently, for a band break, in hopes I would hear some swing music, or maybe a big band tune or two, but alas, it was late when I heard that the band would play one continuous 3 hour set of tunes, each one of which not as long as your typical endless nightmare, but damned close. Then, I found, to my chagrin, the post-set DJed music was also Soul music. So, I fled to the alternative/Blues room and found, to my delight, a DJed variety of moderate tempo jazz, including a very pleasing Stan Getz recording. Who wudda thunk it? And, here I had been cooling my unrequited dance heels in the big room all night. Well, waxing philosophical, I’d been eating the bear three night running, but, this night, the bear chawed my butt.
MONDAY We went to “High Ball Lounge” a new swanky Austin club which opened in October. For those how have seen “The Derby” in L.A., this club closely resembles it Every Monday 8-10P (no cover), the “High Ball Lounge” offers the “The Republic of Texas Big Band” an astoundingly good 16 piece BB with a male and female vocalist. The band ensemble work was tight; the drummer way more than adequate, (great swinging fills, but a little light on the bass drum and high hat). There were two fine soloists in the reed section (solo-chair tenorist and the lead altoist), and the male vocalist had very pleasing voice timbre; the female vocalist had splendid swing phrasing.
DIG THIS, talk about nostalgia trippin’ for Rudy and I, on one side of the “High Ball Lounge” and away from the band stand, large dance floor and seating, there are 8 bowling lanes that used to be in the old, but now closed, Rock ‘n’ Bowl in New Orleans. The old R’n’B hosted the longest standing live music regular weekly swing dance in New Orleans. Rudy and I have danced there almost every year since circa 1993, and we were there for the first night when they re-opened after Katrina. The old R’n’B was on the second floor, and the underneath shops had been completely gutted by the Katrina floods. We had a surreal and scary drive home that night through flotsam-covered streets in devastated neighborhoods with no stop lights nor signs, no street signs (pre-GPS days) and no human presence anywhere. It was like a scene out of a B-grade post-natural disaster horror flick.
Anyway, the BB has a fine, if predictable, book, with several interesting arrangement twists, and they played mostly swing-dancable tempos to a crowd of mostly older well-dressed adults. The only disquieting note for the evening was a very sticky wood dance floor. I guess, on any given night, ya jus’ cain’t ever have it all.
TUESDAY, Now look! I’m confessin’ that I’ve, for sure, been “swungover” before, but I think this was the worst case of “swungover” I can ever remember. Five straight days of dancing wiped me out. I slept 10.5 hours, and I never do that. “Slept” is a poor choice of words, it was more like I was “comatose” for 10.5 hours. I don’t think I even got up for a 3AM whizz.
We don’t dance tonight but tomorrow starts another string of dance nights—it’s dance-relentless and tempo-merciless in Austin. There are so many good bands playing so much good danceable music in so many venues with dance space, and so few charging a cover. What more can I say? Well, actually, plenty more as we are going to be in Austin for 4 to 6 weeks this winter. And so…..this night we walked across the street from our run-down el-cheapo RV park to Flipnotics, a live-music coffee shop to hear “Hip Replacment: a hard-driving, musical-soul stirring, jazz-plus string trio of up-right bass, guitar and fiddler/guitarist/vocalist/leader and musician-extraordinaire, Erik Hokannen. I could not do him justice with description, but if you are ever get in Austin on a Tuesday night, go to Flipnotics at 9PM for a rare musical treat.
WEDNESDAY. Another two-fur night. (yes, dear dance hearts—it often happens in Austin).
First we went to the Continental Club for the free cocktail hour, two hour, two set performance of “Hot Club of Cow Town”. If you haven’t seen them, you are in for a treat. It is a string trio; a crowd-pleasing slap bass player, outstanding guitarist and singer, and everyone’s sweetheart, Alana James, on fiddle*. They play an eclectic mix of C/W, country, Gypsy jazz, jazz, and Bluegrass, most of it blinding fast—think “Orange Blossum Special” ODed on Benzedrine. This is a tight band, as good to watch as listen to. Alana has dynamite stage appeal using a darling facile face, graceful movement, and it doesn’t hurt that she is purty as new new-hatched kitten. Rudy and I got in a few dances—had to ration, as we had another dance venue later.
*Alana once got kicked out of her Kansas City high school orchestra for patting her foot. As we say down here in Texas, “At ain’t rat.”
Then we went to the High Ball Lounge for the “Black Red Black” modern jazz trio. With the inestimable Red Young** on B-3 organ, plus fine jazz trumpeter and drummer. We got in a couple of dances, but mostly we watched and listened.
**For you Lindy Hoppers long in the tooth, that’s Red Young of “Red and the Red-Hots” fame.
THURSDAY we were off to the “East Side Show Room” (ESSR) for dinner, and once there, and finally ate (a long story all in itself) we listened to and did a bit of dancing to an ad hoc assemblage of “The East Side Dandies” a trad jazz combo, this night with the highly unusual instrumentation of trombone, tuba, banjo and drums. All the musicians were excellent, the banjo player is 7 feet 0 inches tall, the trombone player is sterling, the tuba player took solos improvising on melody, and I would pay big money to hear the drummer propelling a modern jazz combo. The inside and outside of the ESSR defies description, and so, I won’t even make an attempt. The food is prepared from local sources, and I think it is well worth a visit there for dinner. Music 11P-1A on Thursdays, no cover, a little dance-space on a distressed floor of unspeakably strange composition, alcohol served, difficult on-street parking.

POTPOURRI

A word about Austin pub-crawl areas is in order. One consists of several venues along seedy East 6th St. in what I would call the counter-culture pub-crawl. Another is what I would call the tourist/conventional pub-crawl on 5th street near downtown. The third is on South Congress and might be labeled the Country/Western pub crawl. My whimsical titles for these areas do not imply that all the joints on the crawls are uniformly as I portrait them. Austin is beginning to unlock its quite interesting aspects, this during our third winter here.

Among the musical groups we may not get to see this winter in Texas are, lamentably, “Asleep at the Wheel” which is spending some time during February in Osceola Iowa (I think the “Wheel’s” booking agent needs a proper ass-whuppin’), and Kat Edmonson, who is, judging by her website, apparently laying out for a while. And, hear this; when we first got to Austin, Dale Watson was in Minnesota—“thet too ain’t rat”. But, Dale will be back, and, we hope, to stay fur a spell.

COMING ATTRACTIONS:
1. The Last Half of Fifteen days in Austin (for this, the first of three two week spells in Austin)
2. If there is N&V space available, some about music and Lindy in Fort Worth/Dallas.

Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper Emeritus (by virtue of age, not ability)
January 22, 2011, in frigid Austin, Texas
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 495
Weekly Avg: 1.0115

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:44 am    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Bump!

It's just so sad. Nothing posted on MNLindy for 9 days. So I couldn't help myself and wrote this sefl-serving "Bump".

MNLindy R.I.P.

Allen Hall
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