So I’m working backwards for a reason. Several actually. I was going to do a recap of my self-proclaimed Greatest Lindy Exchange EVER!,but then it became apparent that I should do a separate post on the Battle of the Bands on Saturday night. After I started working on that, I turned it into an even bigger project by soliciting input from the musicians, DCLX committee members, and dancers who attended. The good news: I’ve gotten a ton of really insightful responses, so now the challenge is weaving this wealth of information into a coherent post. Maybe more.
The bad news: This is taking longer than I thought, even as I keep getting more and more responses.
So until I finish those posts, I thought I’d give you guys a little taste. First here are three other accounts of the exchange out there and counting. The last one is by one of the musicians, Russ Reinberg, the clarinetist in Jonathan Stout’s bands on Friday (Jonathan Stout & His Campus Five featuring Hilary Alexander) and Saturday (The Jonathan Stout Orchestra) of DCLX. Lots of interesting insight from the other side of the band stand.
I also took a number of videos this weekend. I’m posting three of them here with a little back ground. These videos are of the last band of the weekend, The Boilermaker Jazz Band. Despite the heavy hitter line up that preceeded them, including bands led by Glenn Crytzer, Jonathan Stout, Gordon Webster, Craig Gildner, and Stacy Brooks; the Boilermakers were still able to rally the near exhausted DCLX-ites to such a frenzy that they held them hostage onstage for THREE encores. You would think batting clean up behind one of the most exciting musical nights in modern Lindy Hop history would be tough, but BMJB hit one out of the park.
The first video is the first encore. Yes, it’s the theme from “Sanford & Son.” They usually whip that one out when a) the crowd is hot, and b) when they’re feeling particularly loose. You’ll have to forgive my camera work at the beginning. I was preparing to DJ the late night, and grabbed my camera when it became apparent they would do an encore. I just flipped it on as I made my way through the crowd.
The second encore of “Tiger Rag” has a bit of DC-centric history behind it. Many years ago, around 2003/04, we were starting to get to know the Boilermakers. In my discussions with musicians lately, there’s been a lot of talk of the divide between them and the audience/dancers. However, that’s never been an issue with Paul Cosentino and the rest of the Boilermakers who have never waited for people to come up to them when they are not playing at gigs. They’ve been more than happy to meet us at least half way and approach us to hang out and shoot the shat before and after gigs and even during their breaks.
There's also a mutual respect between them as musicians and us as dancers. I've heard various members of the Boilermakers express their admiration of dancers as creative equals and not just paying customers. I remember bassist Ernest McCarty coming up to a group of us and saying that he sees plenty of people dancing all the time but there are some out there that he considers "artistes" which I consider high praise from a guy who spends his spare time writing plays and poetry and sculpting & painting.
During one of our first discussions, Paul made the mistake of revealing two things: 1) They would take requests and 2) they don’t really like playing a lot of typical hot jazz standards. The second part is interesting because people like trying to label them as a Dixieland band. I remember one promoter even referred to them as a ragtime band obviously not knowing what ragtime music is. I think this is due to the fact that they sometimes carry a banjo player, usually Dan Davisson. People sometimes like to judge with their eyes instead of their ears.
Do you remember that time they played “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me,” “Savoy Blues,” or “Muskrat Ramble?” Probably not, because they tend to avoid those kinds of traditional jazz festival standards like the plague simply because they’re over done by just about everyone.
Their usual dance repertoire usually consists of stuff made famous by Eddie Condon, Fats Waller, and especially Duke Ellington. I think their versions of the Ellington 1930’s small group material is their sweet spot. In fact, they are probably most well known for their version of “All God’s Chillun’ Got Rhythm” which they’ve been pimping out jokingly (sort of) as the new national anthem.
(filmed earlier in the evening)
One night, armed with this knowledge, I felt like messing with them and in between every song of their last set I would yell out “TigerRag!” (Just like that with no space in between.) There was no particular reason I chose that song other than it had a really short title that I could blurt out every chance I got that night. When we got to the end of the night, I think they got sick of me taunting them and finally obliged my
request demand in spectacular fashion. They let loose with a blistering version of that song, and we responded with one of the hottest jams I had seen up until that point. It was long too. The the band completely outlasted us and we gave them the love in return.
Ever since then, people in DC would scream out “Tiger Rag!” when they wanted to challenge the boys of BMJB to step up their game on a particular night. It’s not really a request, so much as it is a dare.
Fast forward to the end of their first encore at DCLX 2011, and the crowd cheered on for a solid minute until they start chanting “TIGER RAG! TIGER RAG!” You can hear the rest for yourself.
My favorite part is bassist Ernest McCarty’s solo. In it, he doesn’t just kill a break. He commits first degree murder, buries the body in the woods, and dares the FBI to find the it before digging it up and bringing it back to life with so much funk that James Brown’s ghost had to be escorted off stage.
Even after stopping the whole room and getting them to scream the lyrics with them, the dancers of DCLX still wouldn’t let them go. This is where Paul let us know that he remembered that he’s playing for dancers, so he gave everyone in that ballroom an opportunity to have that last great dance with our DCLX crush.
You’ll notice that the camera is now steady because I just set it down and went to go grab a dance myself. I love the last part because everyone is obviously punch drunk at that point. That didn’t stop us all from having one last moment of togetherness ,celebrating a great weekend and leaving everyone hoping for another.
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me
Many thanks to the entire DCLX committee for providing this great event and thank you for your patience. Keep an eye out for posts wrapping up the rest of DCLX and the now legendary Battle of the Bands within the next week or two. Until then, you can always check the Facebook page for Wandering and Pondering for the latest videos and articles from around the Lindy blogosphere.