Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011: My (Lindy/Music) Highlights

Well another year rounds to a close and it has been almost a year since I started this blogging thing. So as to be completely original and not copy anyone else at all I thought I'd post my #lindyhop and #musicnerd highlights for the year.

I'm glad it has been such a great year for dancing for me. Next April I head off to Nepal to do volunteer work for 12 months so this blog will take a different turn (there won't be much about lindy to blog about); I might actually start posting more stuff about what I'm up to :)

So here we are:

Best Exchange - MLX Turn it up to 11
Now there's been a lot of love out there for MLX this year but that's cause it was freakin' awesome. Great venues, bands that were in the pocket and gun DJs who brought it. And every night was consistently good, which is rare at exchanges - usually there's one event that doesn't quite go off as much as the rest. What was really great this year was to see a whole bunch more Sydney folk there than is usually the case. Here's hoping that continues.

Best Workshop - Jazz with Ramona in Sydney
I don't usually take too many workshops (so this is hardly indicative of what's on offer around the traps), I've only done a handful this year, but this was great. A single day broken into 3 sessions working on Charleston and solo jazz. Ramona has such a relaxed and flexible teaching style - it felt she was acting more in the role of a facilitator than an instructor and that's the sort of situations where I feel I get the best learning outcomes. Sure it was ridiculously hard and I still have a whole bunch of things to unlearn, but I had a great time.

Best Social Event at an Exchange - Hullabaloo Wine Tour
I like Hulla, this was my second year there. It's also the second year that they've done a wine tour around the Swan Valley (though my first time on the tour). Good wine, good beer, good spirits, good food and chocolate = full of win! Plus getting to hang out with a bunch of other interstaters for a day was fab!

Best Band at an Exchange - Oz Big Band, MLX11
Perthies sure represented at MLX this year. In addition to the usual invasion of dancers we had an invasion of musicians as well with two bands being brought over for the event. The Saturday night dance featured Oz Big Band who really brought it playing a whole bunch of 'Greatest Hits of Lindy'  like Corner Pocket, Blues in Hoss' Flat and more. Each track was solid and swinging done by a serious group of musicians who really held it together. Hoping I can see them again soon!  

Best Live Music Gig - Big Jay McNeely with Adam Hall and (some of) the Velvet Playboys
This was a hard one. Between Tuba Skinny, all the great exchange music and plenty of other live gigs I've been to it has been a year of awesome music. The Big Jay gig just pips out the Legends of New Orleans concert (only cause the Opera House is a silly venue to have Jon Cleary, Allen Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band rock it out). He comes out - not on stage - but through the crowd having to use his sax as a walking stick to get up on stage, and proceeded to play 2 honkin' sets of music leaving the other guys in the band (who weren't even half his age) trying to catch up.
I was talking to Adam Hall after the gig and he said that after the first set when a bunch of people were leaving Big Jay said to him "What are all these people leavin' for" to which Adam responded "They think you're only going to do one set". Well they got back out there and proved them wrong.

Most Surprising Live Music Gig - Big Village Christmas Party
I went to this show last week to see the Hi Tops Brass Band perform expecting to be a bit ho-hum about the rest of the hip hop but I was very pleasantly surprised. The MCs were fantastic and some quite comical too. There was a recently formed all-girl hip hop band called She-Rex (the guitarist that plays with the Sirens is a member) who knocked all our socks off. Then there was an act called Sketch the Rhyme which featured a bunch of MCs and a bunch of sketch artists with their work displayed on a projection screen. It was fascinating and hugely entertaining, they even threw in a game of celebrity heads. Towards the end of the night all these DJs started pulling out horns and guitars and belting out riffs in between laying down scratches. Last up was True Vibenation with three guys on horns throwing down honking riffs in between some great verse. A really cool night - there are some seriously talented musicians in Sydney.

Best New Album Release - Bernard Berkhout's Swing Orchestra - Let's Dance
Every track on this album is solid big band swinging goodness. I would play any and all of them at any dance and fill the floor. Gold!

Best New Australian Album Release - Christa Hughes and the Honky Tonk Shonks - Shonky
Combine the consummate showwoman Christa Hughes (who has had a long and varied career including being part of experimental rock band Machine Gun Fellatio and a stint as ringmistress at Circus Oz) and a bunch of the cats from the Cope Street Parade and you get one rollercoaster ride of an album. This album covers a bunch of popular artists ranging from the White Stripes to the Jackson 5 but all as a jazz/blues band. (I'm pretty sure the insanely talented Grant Arthur, who plays Sousaphone with the Cope Street and Banjo and Trombone in this band, did the arrangements) Well worth checking out.