To celebrate the release of the Mint Julep Jazz Band’s new album Battle Axe, we are going to do a Front to Back concert, wherein we perform the entirety of Battle Axe from track 1 all the way through track 16 in order!

This is a free show at the wonderful new Blue Note Grill location near the old Durham Bulls field in the warehouse district – there will be much more room to dance! Join us for dinner at 8:00 p.m., show begins at 9:00 p.m. and runs until we finish!

If you still need to pick up a copy of the album, we’ll have plenty on hand at the show, or you can buy it just about anywhere digital music is sold – CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify…

See you Wednesday! Try the ribs!

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We are excited to be a part of Richmond, Virginia’s inaugural I Heart Balboa, a mini-workshop weekend occurring September 4-5, 2015. The weekend features Balboa instructors Kate Hedin, David Rehm, Chelsea Lee, and David Lee, and the Mint Julep Jazz Band is performing at the Saturday night dance at The Dance Space in Richmond. We hear they are close to selling out, so get your weekend pass or your dance pass soon!

The fierce support staff at the Fidelitorium.
The fierce support staff at the Fidelitorium.

With our new album out and not a lot of information that we’re able to fit on one side of a CD sleeve, we get questions about Battle Axe logistics, so here are some behind the scenes tidbits about the conception and creation of Battle Axe, accompanied by fantastic photos from our Sunday recording session taken by our documentarian in residence, Alexandrea Thomsen (aka dtownperspective).

Conceptually, it is difficult to come up with a direction for a second album – we wanted to deliver a solid album of dance music, take some creative liberties, showcase a range of tempos, and keep everything fun. With the idea that there are many jazz albums whose cover art verges on lackluster or isn’t eye-catching, we wanted to do something cool. And when I say cool, I probably mean nerdy. Would I buy this album and/or be intrigued by the title/cover art?

One of our local Triangle area dancers, Skyler Hinkel, is an avid video gamer and metal fan – death metal, pirate metal, folk metal, everything. He suggested that Mint Julep Jazz Band be a battle swing band and forge a new genre of swing music where all of our songs had something to do with battles. While the execution of a battle swing band would have been out of our reach in time for an album, the idea stuck and we decided, based on the Jimmie Lunceford tune in our book by the same name, to call the album Battle Axe and include some other conflict-oriented tunes.

With this concept in mind and prior to recording, we announced the title of the album on our Facebook wall, which garnered a great response, including one from Ryan Lemar, a swing dancer and instructor in Richmond, VA, who suggested that all of our albums should be named after weapons and rattled off a list, including a trebuchet. Our tenor player, Keenan McKenzie, who is also a whiz on the soprano sax, took this idea and ran with it, writing an original tune called “Trebuchet” that is very much in the vein of something Sidney Bechet might have scribbled down – trรจs Bechet, even!

Keenan also wrote the original tune “The Dwindling Light by the Sea” and arranged “Say It Isn’t So,” “You Can’t Live in Harlem,” and Mussogsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” (which he initially put together for a Halloween gig in 2014). The remainder of the tunes on the album were arranged by co-bandleader and trombonist Lucian Cobb.

Have you seen this?  Seriously.
Have you seen this? Seriously.

Going back to that cool cover art idea, once we had the Battle Axe concept, vocalist Laura Windley approached graphic designer and electronic music artist Judson Cowan (aka Tettix) about fleshing out a concept for the cover art. Judson attended East Carolina University with half of the band, and went on to do graphic design work, like designing a blimp for Conan O’Brien and print ads for the Atlanta Braves, electronic music recordings as the artist Tettix, and soundtracks for video games like Rogue Legacy. Judson was perfect for the job because of his knowledge of the nerdy, the cool, the funny, and the music. We think that his instru-weapons are the perfect visual compliment to the pun of our album title.

When we met with our recording engineer, Jason Richmond, who recorded and mastered our first album, he made two suggestions that affected the quality of the sound on the recordings and distinguished it from our first album: 1) that we record at Mitch Easter‘s studio, The Fidelitorium, in Kernersville because he thought the studio would be complimentary to our sound as an acoustic band and 2) that we record to analog tape, which would give our recordings that warmer tone of older recordings. At one of his jobs, Jason happened upon a closet full of unused analog tape that a university was going to throw away and gave to him, so he was excited to work with it in the recording studio and we are very pleased with the results.

We recorded Battle Axe over a weekend in April at the Fidelitorium and Alexandrea Thomsen, who did our wonderful Kickstarter video and happens to be our guitar player Ben Lassiter’s wife, came out for the Sunday recording session to take photographs. At this point we had recorded most of the tracks for the album and we were doing re-takes on some songs we thought we could do better. The Fidelitorium was a great studio for us, tucked away behind the owner’s home and a “guest house,” which was essentially a little ranch house where the bands stay when they record there. The studio had an open lounge, dining, and kitchen area separate from the recording area and having that space to decompress and take breaks was great. The common area was also full of great artwork, oddities, knick-knacks, and interesting books. Here are some photos of the recording session for Battle Axe – enjoy!

Jason Richmond manning the ground control.
Jason Richmond manning the ground control.
Through the looking glass...
Through the looking glass…
Guitarist Ben Lassiter chunking out that swing rhythm on his axe.
Guitarist Ben Lassiter chunking out that swing rhythm on his axe.
Jason Foureman in the isolation booth
Jason Foureman in the isolation booth
Aaron Hill, Lucian Cobb, and Aaron Tucker taking a break to listen to takes.
Aaron Hill, Lucian Cobb, and Aaron Tucker taking a break to listen to takes.
Take one or take two?  Or re-do?
Take one or take two? Or re-do?
Toys at the studio!
Toys at the studio!
Keenan and Lucian listening to takes of Night on Bald Mountain.
Aaron, Keenan, and Lucian listening to takes of Night on Bald Mountain.


The Mint Julep Jazz Band is spending a day at the races! We will be performing at a bourbon festival and steeplechase on April 4 – Frontstretch Fest at the 64th running of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, North Carolina, to be exact! There will be bourbon and races, of course, but also local chefs, food trucks, local artists, horseshoes, cornhole, croquet, and even some hammocks for relaxing. We’ll be performing periodically from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Don your Derby best and come out! For more information and tickets, visit the Frontstretch Fest website.

We had such a great time performing for the 8th annual Orlando Lindy Exchange, and we’re excited to see that Jamie Lynn Photography was able to capture the fun and energy of this event, including some great shots of the band in action. Check out her photographs at the Jamie Lynn Photography Facebook page – here are two of our favorites:

This is what it looks like after the jam circle breaks and everyone rushes the stage to cheer on the band. :D
This is what it looks like after the jam circle breaks and everyone rushes the stage to cheer on the band. ๐Ÿ˜€ At Bahia Shrine in Orlando, FL
Somewhere between Oscar Aleman and Luciano Pavarotti is the Mint Julep Jazz Band horn section vocals.
Somewhere between Oscar Aleman and Luciano Pavarotti is the Mint Julep Jazz Band horn section vocals. At the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL

Seriously, these people and organizations are the best, and are the reason the Mint Julep Jazz Band will record a second album! Thank you all so very much! ๐Ÿ˜€

Contributors (people who donated their time, products, and services as rewards):

Kim Clark of Time Machine Vintage
Jazz Dance Education Council of Richmond, VA
Ben Lassiter
Valerie Salstrom
Jamie Sturdevant of Chatterblossom
Alexandrea Thomsen of Dtownperspective
Gayle Windley (our vocalist Laura Windley’s mom)

Backers (people who pre-ordered the album and opted for other delightful swag, in order of contribution; also, if we have somehow missed or misspelled your name, please email us at mintjulepjazzband@gmail.com and we will make it right!):

Brad Nathanson
Quito Washington
Jesse Miner
Michael Quisao
K&T Eisenbeis
Craig Parker
Kofi Arthiabah
Gabrielle Kern
James Benze
Chris Ronderos
Debi Blair
Jane Dawson
Christian Bossert
Andrew Knipe
Stephen Badham
Tim Grimsey
Christine Cochrum
Lindsay Gardner
John Buhrmann
Laura Ansley
Keith Moore
Ryan Lemar
Eris Discordia
Ian Whitman
Rob Moreland
Amanda Croasdell
Sarah Ovenall
Glenn Crytzer
Martha S.
Beccy Aldrich
Chris Evans
Yulai Liu
Brennan Bowman
Michael Van Andel
Brian Tietz
Paul Gilbert
Ross Blythe
Peter Bonventre
Bobby Cook
Erik Kutzler
Brittany Bugge
Joseph Bopp
Tyler de Caussin
Sarah Henderson
Kate Hedin
David Bradford
Luke Holladay
Anna B
Chayant Tanti
Brian Fennessy
Srishti Garvey
Aaron Seals
Wes Price
Andy Straube
Amy Sosinski
Jacob Z. Price
Emily Topham
Gil Macali
Frank Verdi
Steven Travis
Phillip Bailey
Dror Speiser
Phillip Paggi
Robert Edwards
Albert Mak
Jeffrey Lane
Chase Bannister
Emilie Richard
Kelly Tomlinson
Olivia Bowman
Chelsea Lefaivre
Carl Blackwell
Chad Skeeters
Jenna Bayer
Cassandra Patitz
Paul J. McLaurin
Andrea Waybright
Austin Gowland
Tia Shelley
Beth Grover
Elaine Silver
Brian Sheridan
Alex Richard
Mallory Peterson
Jacob Rix
Jenna Pekofsky
Erik Myers
Christian Seyfert
Alexis Strickland
Aubrey Groves
Scott M. Manson
Rich Werden
Joanne Fujii
Amanda Fletcher
Stephen York
Jason Platt
Mary Lou Mazzara
Adrian Fahrer
Kathy Tilton
Bill Wolf
Ivan Huang
Sara Kremer
Jason Rights
Jack Mitchell
Phil Manijak
Joan Llabres
Ferdinand Stout
John Li
Andy Nishida
Jami Good
Helene Horowitz
Ryan Swift
Dani McQueen
Jill A
Gary Sharpe
Mark Calkins
Marcus Levine
Nirav Sanghani
Stephan Jankowski
Nate Landon
Conner Phillips
Ann Sychterz
Logan Rott
Laurel Mitchell
Sarah Gray
Antonia Burns
John Davies
Oren Forward
Nick Gorman
Ben White
Kristen Buxton
Joel Carlin
Gary Chyi
YoungWoo Joh
Jared Cary
Bill Speidel
Kevin M. Thoresen
Kris Light
Erica Vess
Frank Myers
Kenneth F. Hanson
Marc Latou
Melanie Levine
Holly Yang
Joelle Andrews
Paul Pj Ryan
Michael James
Jeremy Weinberger
Douglas B. Matthews
Eduardo Sanchez
Barry Pincus
Clara Goodwin
Sharon Ferris
Arnold Cabreza
Suzannah Hamer
Erin Riley
Colin Butler
Elizabeth Tietgen
Gina Helfrich
Tim Heard
Scott Angelius
Ann Mony
Emma Durham
Chiara Coombs
Allison Meeks
Daniel Newsome
James Green
Debra Blair
Maya Bernstein
John Ennis
Binaebi Akah
Tim McMackin
Cliff Dyer
Argsnargle Flartblart
Gena Bell Vargas
Dave Warner
Jennifer Barnett
Mahmood Sheikh
Melissa Hinkel
Andrew Boggs
Rik Panganiban
Valerie Salstrom
Larisa Harrison
Melanie Kramer
George Gee
Douglas Spaceage Schumann
Tai Heng
Rebecca Plante
Tim Korkuc
Madeleine Brook
Patrick Draus
Amanda Stock

Joan Bullard
Fran Richmond
Jeff Meyer and Sarah Lapan
Joe Pangburn
Rosa Matusik
Anthony Licata
Adam Raines
Maddie FitzGerald
Ana Oara
Elliot Simon
Lauren Chester
Lynn Redmile
Tom Lassiter
Iris Carter
Nick D’Amico
David Rehm
Jonathan Jones
Carrie Newman
Matt Dorrance
Keith Beckman
Susan Manke
Norma Owens
John Palmer
Samuel Sykes
Mary Ann Carothers
Lyneah Marks
Laura Boyes
Matthew Royal
Doug Noel
Cindy Cuomo
Caitlyn Deeter
Jenni Li
Claudia Thornburgh
Albert Hardy
Benjamin Cass
Lauren Maringola
Deborah E.
Aidan Dunne
Clark Gibson
Sarah White
Sarah Garr
Heather Adams
Dang Mai
Ulla Wingenfelder
Cansu Cimen
Diane Carroad
Laurie Desch
Edwin C. Butterworth
Michael Gamble
Bobby Smith
Brad Mohr
Chelsea Reed
Johann Waldvogel
Matthew Lewis
John Rowe
Raleigh Vintage
Moriah Wood
Brenda Price
Heather Reynolds
Vicki Smith
Lily Mahon
Emily Schuhmann
Lizzy Hazeltine
Kevin Sizer
Carol Linden
Karl Sakas
Artist Andrea
Sean H
Andy Weaver
Linda Boschert
Susanna Rosen
Hannah Catzen
Meghan Lisi
Jamie Foehl
Sommer Gentry
Bradley J. Rogers
Kristen Churchill
Warren Cheung
Matthew Mella
Sarah St. Ores
Adam Speen
Simon Vogt
Amir Rosenblatt
Joy Jing
John Derrick
Beth Midavaine
Royall Spence
Andrew Byrnes
Marie-Eve Gelinas
Helen King
Elizabeth Farrington
Robert White
Jason Maynard
John DeFranco
Doc Harvey
John Antram
Abby Cohen
Richard Springs
Gary House
John DelVecchio
Matt Gritter
Tessa Smith
Brennan Ames-Phares
Andrea Gomez
Morgan L. Williams
Camille Wood
Misty Landrum
Cat Keen Hock
James Pack
Albert Alva
Mark Henderson
Erin Douglas
Bri Swingdancer
Matthew Keener
Travis Getz
Chris Imershein
Andreas Olsson
Lucie Q. Ewen
Clara M.
Michele Bailey
Richard Poole
Matt Mitchell
Susan Sacher
R Lynn Rea
Margaret Williams
Susan Gauthier
Owen Hortop
B. Darst
Tom S.
Amy Dalton
Randy Zingo
Michael Herbert
Alexandria Sampson
Emily K.
Triangle Swing Dance Society
Holly Owens
Michael Baswell
Mary Kyle Manson
Mike Guzzo
M. Legett
Ska Bob
Sebastien Lienard
Ethan Olson
Ben Rich
Michael Steinman
Ryan Ewing
Sean Johnson
Matt Lam
Stina Dallons Isaksen
Gavin MacInnes
Joshua Mclean
Caroline Gleeson
Athena Moon
Richard Korn
Voon Chew
Nelle Cherry
Rebecca Conley
Chris Parizek
Manu Smith
Ben Beccari
David Rohan de Silva
Christine Sirota
Jennifer Donner
Stepan Jordanek
Scott Cappelluti
Lindsay Kelly
Matthew Brooks
Corrie Holliday
Ben White
Elizabeth Quay
Beth Bernobich
Lindsay Giese
Jason Sager
Dave Hall
Jeong JongHwa
Ksenia Sedova
Vicki Matthews
Nicholas Neagle
Tiffany Christensen
Erika Anstead
Clay Miles
Robert Szarka
Nick D
Heinrich Hess
N. Joanne Foil
Anthony Russell
Kemper Talley
Rob Keder
Matthew Tucker
Etsuyo Choi
Sam Carroll
Dylan Kilpatrick
Caitlin Farthing

We’ll be joining the stellar lineup of musicians for the spring 2014 Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance, along with the Indigo Girls, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Del McCoury Band, and dozens of other great local, regional, and national acts. We’ll be performing Sunday, April 20 from 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. in the Dance Tent – they’ll have a wood floor in the tent so everyone can cut a rug and avoid the mud. ๐Ÿ˜‰

For more information about the festival, the artists, the location, camping, tickets, schedule, and any questions you may have, visit Shakori Hills’ comprehensive website at http://shakorihillsgrassroots.org.

This is our first music festival, so we are really excited – see you there!