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…

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.

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.

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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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.

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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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1981865_592636587503721_1613895537222570559_nIt’s been a minute since the Mint Julep Quintet had some of the spotlight – we’re grateful that people have opted to book the full size band so consistently, but it will be nice to revisit the quintet book for its swing era and trad jazz combo repertoire.  Join us on June 7, 2019 at the Cary Arts Center for the 6th Annual En Plein Air Art Auction and Gala, which features the works of 27 local artists painted outdoors with an auction and live music provided by yours truly from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  The show is free to everyone, we hope you’ll support local artists with your feet and be inspired.