TL/DR: The Mint Julep Jazz Band is recording our third album, Watch the Birdie, and the Kickstarter launched today for pre-orders and swag!

Our album artwork was lovingly painted by the incredible Durham-based artist Darius Quarles.

(From our vocalist Laura Windley)

When I was young, I wondered why each subsequent band album seemed to have more and more years between albums, but now I understand. When a band does well, they are busy, then the members are busy contributing to other endeavors, and then people need a break after being so busy, so the thought of a new album is definitely lower on the priority list, particularly when other work is steady.

In 2020, we decided that 5 years was enough time gone by since the release of Battle Axe and that we should record another album. You know how the rest of this story goes with the global COVID-19 pandemic essentially putting a halt to life as we knew it.

We scheduled this recording a couple of times during the pandemic and had to keep pushing it back, but we believe it’s for real this time, so we are launching a Kickstarter today for album pre-orders and swag. I know some of you have told me that you need a new tee shirt, so we got you! I’m also excited to add enamel pins, Burt’s Bees, a sponsorship option, and some quality time noshing with yours truly as rewards, in addition to some of our recurring rewards.

What will this album be? It’s a dance album, of course, but it’s also the culmination of efforts aggregated just prior to the pandemic that still feel new to us, plus some new-to-us arrangements created during the pandemic, and some old favorites that should be put on tape. The project feels fresh to us, so we hope you enjoy it as we slowly re-open our jazz dance and music community.

It’s also a celebration of our 10th anniversary as a band! Our first gig was in February of 2012 at the (now defunct) Hot Club of Durham weekly swing dance in the Trotter Building in Durham’s DIY district. I look at videos of that night and think about how far we’ve come, but also how we did a respectable job for a very first gig. It’s been a wild ride and we thank you for all the wonderful musical experiences we’ve shared since then.

Visit our Kickstarter page for more information about the tracks on the album, swag, and how to get your copy/copies of our recordings – we’re offering digital, CD, and vinyl this time! You have 58 days to get your order in, the countdown begins…

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

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.

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The next two weekends are packed with great dancing and music and we’re excited to be a part of all of it!  On July 6, 2019, find us at the historical Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom for the inaugural Red, White, & Bal, a Balboa Workshop weekend hosted by Capital City Swing.  We’ll be performing from 9 p.m. to midnight – for more information, visit the event website.

On July 13, 2019, our hometown of Durham, NC is the backdrop for the Triangle Swing Dance Society’s first full-fledged Lindy Hop workshop weekend, the Bull City Swingout.  We’ll be performing at another historic ballroom, the Durham Armory, from 8:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.  For more information, visit the BCS website.

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World-renowned Balboa dancer Olga Marina is launching a new website this month called isolobalboa.com, which will feature more than 100 videos, demos, exercises for both for leaders and followers in the pure Balboa and Bal-Swing dance styles.  We’re delighted that Olga featured the Mint Julep Jazz Band’s recording of “You Can’t Live in Harlem” in her promotional video for the website, which showcases her incredible footwork and joyous energy!  Follow her Facebook page for more updates on videos and the website.

Fresh off Camp Hollywood, we’re ready for a couple of live shows on our home turf!  Catch us on these two dates:

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 12 AND 15 ARE CANCELLED DUE TO HURRICANE FLORENCE, CARY’S PARK AFTER DARK SHOW IS RESCHEDULED FOR OCTOBER 3

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From a past performance for TSDS at the Carrboro Century Center, courtesy of Tiffany Brantner.

October 3, 2018 (rescheduled from the cancelled September 12, 2018) at The Town of Cary’s Park After Dark, Cary, NC – our first performance for the Town of Cary, we’ll send out the summer outdoor concert season in style.  We’ll be performing a free concert at Cary’s Downtown Park from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., bring a picnic dinner or pick up food from one of the local vendors at the event. For more information about food, parking, and weather updates, visit https://www.townofcary.org/recreation-enjoyment/events/special-events/park-after-dark.

September 15, 2018 at Triangle Swing Dance Society dance, Carrboro, NC – always happy to be playing on for dancers on the best dance floor in the Triangle, at the Carrboro Century Center.  Free beginner swing dance lesson at 7:00 p.m., we play from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.  For more information, visit the TSDS website at www.triangleswingdance.org.

West coast friends and beyond, please join us Labor Day weekend 2018 at Camp Hollywood in Los Angeles for our west coast debut!  We’ll be performing at the Friday evening dance (August 31) at Camp Hollywood at the LAX Marriott from 9:00 p.m. to midnight and the theme for the night is a tribute to the classic Hollywood film Cabaret, so come in your 1920’s/cabaret/chorus girl/emcee/Bob Fosse finest.  Camp Hollywood is one of the largest and longest-running swing dance camps/competition weekends in the United States and it’s an honor for us to be invited to perform!  For more information and to register, visit the Camp Hollywood website.

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