Vintage jazz dancer, DJ, songbird, blogger

The South Carolina Jazz Festival has reimagined itself for COVID and the Mint Julep Jazz Band will be performing an outdoor concert as part of the festival!  Here are the details:

October 15, 2021 
7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. 
The Wine Factory 
165 2nd Street
Cheraw, SC

Held in Dizzy Gillespie’s hometown, we are delighted to be a part of this event, after having scheduling conflicts for several years.  Thanks so much to the festival for asking again this year!

If you’ve never been to Cheraw, it’s a little over two hours from Durham, NC and here are some other location driving times:
– Greensboro, NC – 1.5 hours
– Charlotte, NC – 1.5 hours
– Columbia, SC – 1.75 hours
– Charleston, SC – 2.3 hours
– Wilmington, NC – 2.3 hours

Whether you’re in for the weekend, taking a day trip, or just riding in for the show and getting back late because the next day is Saturday and you can sleep in, we promise lots of great swing music.  BONUS: you can stick around until 11 p.m. and catch more swing with the last set of Le Pumpe‘s jazz manouche!  They are playing from 8-11 at the Bistro Restaurant, just around the corner from The Wine Factory.

Click here for the full lineup and list of venues/addresses.

The Mint Julep Jazz Band cordially invites you to a jazz picnic at historic Orchard Park! Join us on June 12, 2021 from noon to 3:00 p.m. for an afternoon of music under the trees, enjoy the provisions in your picnic basket, do a little dancing (pursuant to the current safety guidelines), and then recline on your picnic blanket six feet away from the nearest attendees. This event is all ages and open to the public.

Through crowd funding from our wonderful community, we were able to cover the bare minimum costs of this event, but we will continue to take donations toward musician compensation and any unforeseen expenses – please send your donation to me with a note for “picnic” or “jazz picnic” to Venmo @Laura-Windley or via PayPal at caab241@hotmail.com (select friends and family so there is no fee). We will also have a virtual tip jar at the show and hope that you will support this live music endeavor.

Orchard Park is a park owned by the City of Durham and we want to be sure that the event is enjoyed by everyone and hope that we could potentially do this again. The city’s guidelines are applicable to attendees as follows:

  • Please wear a mask when you are not eating.
  • If you are feeling sick, please stay at home.
  • Please make sure your picnic area is 6 feet away from the nearest groupings of people. If we reach attendance of 100 people, we may ask newcomers to set up in an adjacent section of the park.
  • At this time (4/23/21), the city’s guidelines say “no shaking of hands,” so this means no social dancing. I hope this changes, but make plans to do solo dancing.
  • Hand sanitizer is encouraged, please bring some with you, as we will have port-a-potties and no facilities for hand washing.
  • There is a water fountain at the park, but you should also plan on bringing enough water for the afternoon.
  • Please pick up your trash and dispose of it appropriately; otherwise, Lucian Cobb and Laura Windley will be picking up your trash and that makes for a long day. 

To RSVP to the Orchard Park Jazz Picnic, ask questions, and for more information and updates, please visit our Facebook invite for this event.

Orchard Park is located at 1000 S. Duke Street in Durham, North Carolina.

This past weekend the Mint Julep Jazz Band premiered three new music videos as part of the California Balboa Classic’s virtual event, CalBal Live! The event reached out to 5 bands/bandleaders to create brand new recordings for the event, compiled remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, Gordon Au’s Grand Street Stompers, the Jen Hodge All-Stars, Keenan McKenzie and the Riffers, and the Mint Julep Jazz Band. We hope you enjoy these new-to-us tunes, here’s the scoop on each song, the sponsors, and the musicians for each recording:

COWBELL SERENADE

If you say CalBal three times fast it might come out sounding like cowbell at the end – hence this tune is a pun on the event’s nickname. We’d been looking for pitched cowbells for years, online an at music stores, and it took a pandemic Zoom cocktail hangout for the topic of almglocken to come out. Thanks to Jonathan Stout for the suggestion, we think they worked out great! Here’s our rendition of Johnny Blowers’ Cowbell Serenade, sponsored by Gary Chyi.

Lucian Cobb – trombone, Matt Fattal – trumpet, Keenan McKenzie – tenor saxophone, Aaron Hill – alto saxophone, Chip Newton – guitar, Jason Foureman – bass, Kobie Watkins – drums, Laura Windley – glockenspiel

I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER

This is an original arrangement of I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, written by Lucian Cobb, with vocals inspired by the Boswell Sisters. Thanks so much to Kevin Wang, Lian Tarhay, Ursula Hicks, Kevin Nguyen, Matt Mitchell, and Jennifer Reed, all swing dancers in Austin and Dallas, Texas, who joined forces to sponsor this song for CalBal Live.

Laura Windley – vocals, Lucian Cobb – trombone, Paul Rogers – trumpet, Keenan McKenzie – tenor saxophone, Aaron Hill – alto saxophone, Ben Lassiter – guitar, Peter Kimosh – bass, Aaron Tucker – drums

RAGGIN’ THE SCALE

When we started talking to the CalBal Live organizers it became clear that they were excited about everything the bandleaders proposed and were up for funding big band charts. While the Mint Julep Jazz Band isn’t a big band, Lucian really wanted to do a big band song because it would be fun to put together. He had already transcribed Raggin’ the Scale (from an Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra live recording from the Savoy Ballroom) for Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders Orchestra and Michael gave his blessing for us to record Lucian’s transcription, so here we are! Thanks so much to Pasadena Balboa and Jam for sponsoring Raggin’ the Scale, this song is an absolute blast.

Trumpet – Renee McGee, Jay Meachum, and Jim Ketch; Trombone – Lucian Cobb and Evan Ringel; Alto Saxophone – Brian Miller and Aaron Hill; Tenor Saxophone – Keenan McKenzie and Annalise Stalls; Drums – Dan Faust; Bass – William Ledbetter; Guitar – Ben Lassiter; Piano – Clark Stern; Glockenspiel – Laura Windley

In non-COVID times, the Mint Julep Jazz Band would have performed over Labor Day weekend at Camp Hollywood, but this year Camp Hollywood put on a four day virtual event that was as close to the real thing as we can get right now.  We decided to put together a remote recording with video and audio of the band performing “Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet” to premiere at Virtual Camp Hollywood and now you can watch it on YouTube.  Enjoy!

Fellow swing bandleader Glenn Crytzer has put out the call to action for musicians to donate this week’s Bandcamp proceeds to an organization that will help uplift the black community – the Mint Julep Jazz Band is joining in. We will donate all proceeds of this week’s Bandcamp sales to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is an organization that litigates against white supremacist groups, classifies and monitors hate groups, and promotes tolerance education programs. If you have not already purchased both of our albums, now is a great time – we’ll be donating all proceeds from June 1-7, 2020. 
 
Please also see the call on Glenn’s Facebook post if you are a musician and to see the bands joining in – maybe you own both of our albums, but there’s other great jazz music in the list that will also benefit the black community.

UPDATE: In light of the pandemic, the Mint Julep Jazz Band concert on March 22, 2020 at Galloway Ridge for Fearrington Cares has been canceled. We are hoping to reschedule this concert for the fall.  Stay healthy and safe, everyone!

We’ll be performing a concert on March 22, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Chapin Auditorium at Galloway Ridge as a fundraiser for Fearrington Cares, which provides “information and services to all residents of the Fearrington Community that will facilitate the health, safety and independent living activities of those residents on a non-profit basis.”  Tickets are $40 and you can purchase advance tickets and get more information by visiting the Fearrington Cares website or by visiting the Fearrington Cares Center located at 26 Swim and Croquet, Pittsboro, NC on any weekday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. prior to March 18, 2020.  See you soon!

IMG_0348

The Global Trickeration Project was created by the organizers of the International Lindy Hop Championships to celebrate Norma Miller‘s 100th birthday and her signature choreography.  The project invited dancers from all over the world to learn Norma’s Trickeration routine, film it, and send it to ILHC to be included in a tribute to Norma at the International Lindy Hop Championships.  Norma’s legacy and dancing live on as the Queen of Swing continues to inspire us today and talk about her legacy following her passing last year.

Traditionally, Trickeration is done to Count Basie’s recording of “Jive at Five,” but the dancers in Lyon, France opted to use our recording of this fantastic tune for their choreography – thanks and cheers!  Here’s to Norma!

We are excited to announce a double-nighter on the southern coast/Cape Fear area of North Carolina, which is a new area for us and I know some people are very excited to have us in their town for a little hot jazz listening and rug-cutting!

On Friday, January 10, 2020 we’ll be at the Hannah Block Historic USO in Wilmington, NC for a swing dance hosted by the Cape Fear Swing Dance Society – join us from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for dancing in this historic venue.  Admission is $15.00.  For more information visit the CFSDS website.

On Saturday, January 11, 2020 we will do a rare sit-down concert for Brunswick Community College’s Odell Williamson Auditorium in Bolivia, NC.  We’ll plan a program of interesting tidbits and tasty tunes for your listening ears.  For more information and to purchase advance tickets, visit the auditorium’s concert series website.

AR-191119295

While the Mint Julep Jazz Band may not have any public shows in December, there are many Mint Juleps involved in the album release show for A Bull City Holiday on December 3 at Motorco – most notably, our reed man, arranger, and songwriter Keenan McKenzie, who wrote and arranged 12 original holiday tunes and invited 30 Triangle musicians to appear on this album.  We hope you will join us, the show will feature almost all of the musicians on the album, performing Keenan’s originals and some holiday classics in groupings ranging from trad jazz combo to big band.  Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8:00 p.m.  You can get advance tickets on the Motorco website for $12 (plus a parking option), or pay $15 at the door.

The album is officially available for download on November 25 on Bandcamp, but you can preview 2 tracks already – or, if you happen to see Keenan at ILHC, around town, at the December 3 show, or otherwise, pick up a copy from the artist directly.  Albums will be available at Dolly’s Vintage in downtown Durham very soon.

He’s already received a delightful review, courtesy of Joe Bebco of The Syncopated Times, if you’d like to read some love for the album.