On November 2, 2012 we are launching a Kickstarter campaign to crowd fund our first CD, titled “Durham on Saturday Night.” We are asking for pledges toward our $6,000 funding goal and, in exchange, you can get different fabulous rewards based on the amount of your pledge/contribution – some of the rewards include digital and physical copies of the CD, handkerchiefs with the band logo, drawstring backpacks/dance shoe bags with the band logo, a limited edition poster, cupcakes baked for you by vocalist Laura Windley, and hanging out in the studio with us as we record the CD!

Here is what we are posting on our Kickstarter page as information about the CD project:

“The Mint Julep Jazz Band, Durham NC’s swing, hot jazz, and little big band outfit is putting together their first CD! We are excited to finally be getting into a recording studio with this group of jazz musicians to work a little magic and have something that you can take home with you after the show or the dance!

Never heard us or heard of us? Take a minute to check out our ReverbNation page for a preview: http://www.reverbnation.com/mintjulepjazzband

One of our Kickstarter rewards is a logo drawstring bookbag, which conveniently doubles as a shoe bag for dancers.

Why Kickstarter? Think of it as pre-sales – you are essentially ordering this album in advance, with the understanding that the new Mint Julep Jazz Band recordings will be more polished than the recordings we’ve taken with Laura’s iPhone and will have the energy we have at our shows. We’re going to bottle that up for you and give it to you, you just have to buy the bottle first. We guarantee it will keep your toes tapping and swing hard enough to get you out of your seat!

What do we need all this money for? It takes a lot of money to make a CD and the money is divided amongst recording, mixing, mastering, graphic design, duplication, licensing fees, and probably some unanticipated expenses that we will encounter. It is a big undertaking for any band and we hope that you will consider contributing to our Kickstarter campaign in exchange for some of the fabulous rewards we have for you, plus our undying love and loyalty.

The CD, “Durham on Saturday Night,” will feature Lucian Cobb on trombone, Jim Ketch on trumpet, Keenan McKenzie on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Aaron Hill on alto saxophone and clarinet, Aaron Tucker on drums, Jason Foureman on bass, Jared Wofford on guitar and banjo, and Laura Windley on vocals. Our cover art will be designed by Durham artist and watercolorer to the stars, Jamie Wolcott.”

The official go live date is November 2, which we chose because we will be performing that night at the Eastern Balboa Championships, the southeast’s largest and only Balboa event. We are excited about performing for such a large audience from all over the United States and about the possibility of being able to offer a CD for sale, even if it is pre-orders!

If we are do not reach our Kickstarter goal of $6,000, the CD project will not be funded. You are only charged if the Kickstarter is fully funded. We hope you will consider pre-ordering the CD through our Kickstarter campaign to ensure that we have a CD to share with you!

No, seriously, they really do. John Ennis and Ruth Brown are getting married on September 8, 2012 and are opening up their wedding reception to be an open-to-the-public swing dance. For John and Ruth, there is no better way to spend their wedding weekend than surrounded by live swing music and dancing. To that end, they have planned a weekend doing just that and are inviting everyone who wishes to dance to amazing music to attend not one, but two dance events – the more the merrier!

Here’s the information from the Facebook invite:

John is a big fan of Fred Astaire and we’ll be performing at least one of his songs for the reception/dance

“Friday, September 7th, 2012
Live Band: Gypsy Roots
9:00pm – midnight
Beginner Lindy Hop lesson at 7:30

Saturday, September 8th, 2012
Live Band: The Mint Julep Jazz Band
2:00pm-5:00pm
Beginner Lindy Hop lesson at 1:00

Location:
Lewis Ginter Recreation Association
3421 Hawthorne Ave.
Richmond, VA

Admission:
General: $10 for one dance, $15 for both
Students: $7 for one dance, $10 for both

Spiffy attire encouraged for the Saturday dance (we’ll be in wedding attire)! Please wear comfortable shoes with smooth soles (please, no black rubber soles).

New to dancing? Have no fear! Ruth and John will be teaching the beginner lesson before the Friday night dance, while Erica Vess and Ryan Lemar will be teaching the beginner lesson before the Saturday afternoon dance. No dance partner required.

Erica Vess will also provide her excellent and nationally recognized DJ skills during the band breaks!

And of course, there will be cake…”

We are excited to be a part of the wedding festivities and are looking forward to dancing, cake, and performing at the historic ballroom at the Lewis Ginter Recreation Center!

The Mint Julep Jazz Band is delighted to be a finalist for Best Jazz Artist or Band in our first year of existence! Many thanks to all of our fans who voted for us. Congratulations to our tenor saxophonist, Peter Lamb, whose band Peter Lamb and the Wolves was the winner of the Best Jazz Artist or Band award! See the results of the Independent Weekly’s 2012 Best of the Triangle Reader’s Choice poll at http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/best-of-the-triangle-2012-readers-choice-poll-winners-and-finalists/Content?oid=3081364&storyPage=3

The Mint Julep Jazz Band is looking forward to performing at ItalianFest at Lafayette Village in Raleigh this Saturday, May 12, 2012. We will be performing from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on the green in front of The Village Grill.

ItalianFest is an all day event, starting at noon, with lots of live music, Italian-themed activities and, of course, food! Come and bring your appetite for some delicious Italian food, relax with a glass of wine, and enjoy the sounds of the Mint Julep Jazz Band.

For more information about the schedule of events, visit the event Facebook invite at http://www.facebook.com/events/382478951767401/.

For more information about Lafayette Village, visit their website at http://www.lafayettevillageraleigh.com.

See you there! Ciao!

On Saturday, April 28, we’ll hit the road for a gig in Greensboro at the Oriental Shrine Club, playing the evening dance as part of the Piedmont Swing Dance Society‘s spring workshops with Joel Plys and Jenna Applegarth. We’re looking forward to seeing a big crowd of dancers out for this one!

Oriental Shrine Club
5010 High Point Road
Greensboro, NC

7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – Free beginner lesson with admission

8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. – Mint Julep Jazz Band plays

Admission: $8.00 for Members and Students Under 21, $10.00 for Non-Members

For more information about the Piedmont Swing Dance Society, the dance, and the workshops, please visit the PSDS website at http://www.piedmontswingdance.org/

The terms “jazz” and “swing” can conjure very different imagery and sounds, depending on who you ask. With that in mind, it can be difficult to describe the music we perform in the Mint Julep Jazz Band. When most people think of “jazz,” what usually comes to mind is smaller combos playing bebop, modern jazz, straight ahead jazz, or standards. The term “swing” tends to bring up thoughts of Glenn Miller’s recording of “In the Mood,” Benny Goodman’s recording of “Sing Sing Sing,” or even Louis Prima’s “Jump, Jive, and Wail.” While the understanding of these terms may be more of a pop culture reference to most, it’s kind of like saying all music from the 1970’s is disco, or all music from the 1980’s is new wave – the terms jazz and swing have a much broader definition, with jazz as the umbrella term and swing as a subset of jazz.

A packed Casino Ballroom at Catlina Island, CA, circa 1940, swing band in the distance, beyond the sea of people...

So where does the Mint Julep Jazz Band fit into swing and jazz?

Jazz, in its earliest form, originated in the early 20th century. In terms of a timeline, the Mint Julep Jazz Band doesn’t go all the way back to the beginning of jazz, but does pick up jazz shortly thereafter. In the 1920’s, jazz grew to prominence and began to gain mass appeal, thanks to the popularity of radio and enhancements in recording technology. The Mint Julep Jazz Band plays several arrangements of jazz tunes from this era, primarily from the late 1920’s.

Jazz continued to gain popularity into the 1930’s, and began to take on the name “swing.” Most of the music we play is from the 1930’s and early 1940’s, which was the height of the swing era. This music is still jazz and, at the time, was America’s pop music – it was the music that filled the dance halls and airwaves, it was trendy and was associated with youth culture. We believe this music was popular because it is so much fun – it’s toe-tapping music, has a great energy, and is a joy to perform.

Thus, it’s possible for us to be both a jazz band and a swing band because the terms overlap. We hope you’ll come to one of our shows and hear some of this music firsthand – even within early jazz and swing, there are different sounds and subsets to keep things interesting, and we think you’ll like what you hear!