Old Stuff for a Modernist Crowd

Everything about the swinging music we love to DJ

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KevinSchaper
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Old Stuff for a Modernist Crowd

#1 Post by KevinSchaper » Fri Aug 01, 2003 4:34 pm

The local austin discussion about George viciously brutalizing the scene inspired this topic...

for George, and anybody else who wants to play swing-era stuff in a mostly post-swing-era scene, what're are good baby-step kinda songs?

Does it work better to work in blocks of stuff from the same era or jump back and forth?

...comments on going the other way are worthwhile too..

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Re: Old Stuff for a Modernist Crowd

#2 Post by Nate Dogg » Fri Aug 01, 2003 6:37 pm

KevinSchaper wrote:The local austin discussion about George viciously brutalizing the scene inspired this topic...
I know you were kidding about the "viciously brutalizing" description. But, for the record, that is not what happened and that is not what was stated in the thread. A few folks complained about the set. However, not everybody did, plenty of people danced and enjoyed the set.

The complaints I heard dealt with variety within in the set. Nobody said, "he played a Jimmie Lunceford song, damn him." When I play Chick Webb and Jimmie Lunceford nobody complains. Nobody had any problems with specific songs and performers. Maybe some tunes got more dancers out than others, but it was not like he played bad songs.

For the most part if a typical dance is only 10 - 30% pre-war song and 70% - 90% post war, if a DJ flips the ratio, some people will notice.

Added 8/2/03 - Also, it was a three hour set due to the other DJ having to cancel out. That magnified the perception by some people that the set was lacking in post war tunes. This was also pointed out in the thread.
Last edited by Nate Dogg on Sat Aug 02, 2003 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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lindyholic
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#3 Post by lindyholic » Fri Aug 01, 2003 11:44 pm

I find the best way to get people used to swing-era music is maybe by mixing up DJs. I know Vancouver is a very post swing-era type of scene. But when I DJ I usually DJ with someone who is post swing-era, since I am all about the swing-era. And everyone has liked it thus far because they get a bit of everything and I find that is the best way to introduce people to the swing-era music.

Harrison
www.lindyhopper.ca, Canada's Swing Site.

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Lawrence
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Re: Old Stuff for a Modernist Crowd

#4 Post by Lawrence » Mon Aug 04, 2003 10:18 am

Nate Dogg wrote:
KevinSchaper wrote:The local austin discussion about George viciously brutalizing the scene inspired this topic...
I know you were kidding about the "viciously brutalizing" description. But, for the record, that is not what happened and that is not what was stated in the thread. A few folks complained about the set. However, not everybody did, plenty of people danced and enjoyed the set.
Nathan is trying to be too diplomatic because we both like George, personally, and don't want to slander him. George was not viciously brutalized, and yes, some "people" danced because they came to dance and will dance to anything. They could wiggle off-beat to bad music just as giddily as they wiggle off-beat to good music.

But the energy and vibrancy was not there in the dancing, and there were lots of complaints: far more than usual. I also received far more compliments than usual for injecting some much-needed variety. Those complaints were echoed even louder the next week when a new, even more ardently-vintage DJ forced everyone to listen to oompah-looppah pre-swing music (1&3 beat emphasis WITH TUBA), and didn't seem to play anything recorded after 1934 all night. And the compliments for saving the night this time went to Nathan. Once Nathan started DJing, the vibe changed in the room, and the huge, broad line of people standing on the side of the dance floor dissolved.

It stems from ignoring what the dancers at that venue want and instead pursuing an agenda. To the extent that they want to encourage an all-vintage, all-the-time scene/venue/night, they should realize that they are merely alienating people from vintage music by force-feeding it to everyone en masse without any variety, especially given the modern day prejudice against lo-fi music from several generations brought up exclusively on hi-fi music.

As always, pay attention to the crowd, know the venue (ask the promoter or some key people beforehand if you don't know it, yourself), and play different genres in those "mini-sets" that we have discussed, while playing transitional songs in between those different genres to keep a flow going.
Lawrence Page
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Re: Old Stuff for a Modernist Crowd

#5 Post by yedancer » Mon Aug 04, 2003 10:24 am

Lawrence wrote:
But the energy and vibrancy was not there in the dancing, and there were lots of complaints: far more than usual. I also received far more compliments than usual for injecting some much-needed variety. Those complaints were echoed even louder the next week when a new, even more ardently-vintage DJ forced everyone to listen to oompah-looppah pre-swing music (1&3 beat emphasis WITH TUBA), and didn't seem to play anything recorded after 1934 all night. And the compliments for saving the night this time went to Nathan. Once Nathan started DJing, the vibe changed in the room, and the huge, broad line of people standing on the side of the dance floor dissolved.

It stems from ignoring what the dancers at that venue want and instead pursuing an agenda. To the extent that they want to encourage an all-vintage, all-the-time scene/venue/night, they should realize that they are merely alienating people from vintage music by force-feeding it to everyone en masse without any variety, especially given the modern day prejudice against lo-fi music from several generations brought up exclusively on hi-fi music.

As always, pay attention to the crowd, know the venue (ask the promoter or some key people beforehand if you don't know it, yourself), and play different genres in those "mini-sets" that we have discussed, while playing transitional songs in between those different genres to keep a flow going.
DAMN you Lawrence. You are such a fool! It's "Oompa Loompa" not "Oompah Looppah."
-Jeremy

It's easy to sit there and say you'd like to have more money. And I guess that's what I like about it. It's easy. Just sitting there, rocking back and forth, wanting that money.

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Re: Old Stuff for a Modernist Crowd

#6 Post by Lawrence » Mon Aug 04, 2003 10:48 am

yedancer wrote:DAMN you Lawrence. You are such a fool! It's "Oompa Loompa" not "Oompah Looppah."
Who are you calling "scruffy looking?" :)
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#7 Post by julius » Mon Aug 04, 2003 12:49 pm

Lunceford, among other bands, used a two beat rhythm that, I suppose, you could call "polka" (which is what you mean by oompah loompah rhythm I assume). I certainly wouldn't call it pre-swing though. That kind of music definitely inspires much more charleston-related dancing in me. And since New Testament dancers generally aren't into charleston....well. Yeah, I can see how it would alienate dancers.

But yes, variety is good. An entire evening of Sidney Bechet would get on my nerves, honestly. Unless I were in a Bechet mood.

As far as music that can bridge the gap, I suggest playing Summit Ridge Drive by Artie Shaw every so often. Also that Alberta Hunter(?) version of Darktown Strutter's Ball. There's tons of other music that can bridge the gap but I don't recall much of it offhand. What you need is music that swings elastically but doesn't derive from the New Testament Basie sound, and there is plenty of that, I'm sure.

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Re: Old Stuff for a Modernist Crowd

#8 Post by Nate Dogg » Mon Aug 04, 2003 2:06 pm

Lawrence wrote:
Nate Dogg wrote:
KevinSchaper wrote:The local austin discussion about George viciously brutalizing the scene inspired this topic...
I know you were kidding about the "viciously brutalizing" description...
Those complaints were echoed even louder the next week when a new, even more ardently-vintage DJ forced everyone to listen to oompah-looppah pre-swing music (1&3 beat emphasis WITH TUBA), and didn't seem to play anything recorded after 1934 all night.
[/quote]

Lawrence:

And discussing this publically is beneficial to our scene in what way?

I am being diplomatic because I think DJ feedback is best done offline. Hell, I would be pissed if my first set ever was discussed in forum like this. The newbie DJ in question is on the schedule two more times, if you have problems with any of his sets; tell the Music Coordinator, a Board Member, or speak with him yourself.

Nathan
Last edited by Nate Dogg on Wed Aug 06, 2003 7:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#9 Post by Soma-Guy » Mon Aug 04, 2003 8:35 pm

I think alot depends on how good the D.J's taste in music is, not necessarily what era they play. Some D.J's just have zero idea how to play to a crowd. I keep my sets more than 90% pre-war era and it never seems to come up as an issue. There is alot of variety in the old music and a good D.J can spin only in that era and never have most of the audience pick up on that fact. Reuben is a good example of a D.J who spins mostly from that era and can keep a floor filled. While other D.J's I have heard that like to play only from that era can kill a floor in only a few songs.

And in terms of Vancouver being mainly drawn to newer music I would have to disagree Harrison. For example me and my partner Louise just started a night called "Molten Swing", (a tribute to Bennie Moten) but never advetised it as a "classic swing" night. And to be honest most people have never really noticed it's almost entirely old music. They just go out there and dance because the music is good, not necessarily because they like the era.

Joel

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Lawrence
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#10 Post by Lawrence » Mon Aug 04, 2003 9:59 pm

julius wrote:Lunceford, among other bands, used a two beat rhythm that, I suppose, you could call "polka" (which is what you mean by oompah loompah rhythm I assume). I certainly wouldn't call it pre-swing though. .
No, I'm talking pre-swing traditional jazz with a 2-beat feel that did not use a swing rhythm and used a Tuba as the main element of the rhythm section. Polka rhythm is in triplets.
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#11 Post by djstarr » Tue Aug 05, 2003 12:05 am

Some of my very humble opinions:

Vocals help a lot; I tend to try to mix in a lot of vocals regardless of era because I think folks on average relate to vocal music easier.

Cab Calloway and Lucky Millinder are good for bridging between eras - especially when going to some jump blues --

I also think Louis Armstrong is underplayed - anybody else feel this way? I've been playing lots and lots of Louis across eras just because I like him so much.

Jimmy Rushing is another artist who could be used this way --- his stuff with Basie swings so hard, but I also just got a later album of his - "Everyday I have the blues" - which has a bunch of hard driving blues that everyone seems to dig.

and I agree with all the post about new DJ's --- even though Seattle loves pre-war era music, there have been some newer DJ's who will get fixated on a certain sound and never vary the beat or the feel.....not a whole lot you can do until they pay attention to how much people are dancing.

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#12 Post by main_stem » Tue Aug 05, 2003 7:16 am

djstarr wrote:
and I agree with all the post about new DJ's --- even though Seattle loves pre-war era music, there have been some newer DJ's who will get fixated on a certain sound and never vary the beat or the feel.....not a whole lot you can do until they pay attention to how much people are dancing.
Seattle loves a mix of good swinging jazz music. Assumeing one way or the other handicaps a DJ. Yes there are certain venues here geared in specific ways, but by no means does that mean the whole of Seattle is one way or the other.

Personally I try never to go into a venue assuming to know the crowd and knowing what they like. I'll ask around and see what people talk about but when I get there I spend the time feelingout the crowd.

It's not only new DJs that get fixated on certain sounds. Some older DJ get just as fixated and clear the room. Old timers need to pay attention to things that new DJs need to if not more so. They set the bar. If the continue to set the bar low new DJ will do the same untill they find legs of their own, assuming that they eventually will.

Brenda as a new DJ yourself I hope you will pay attention to all these posts about new DJs.
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#13 Post by yedancer » Tue Aug 05, 2003 9:26 am

djstarr wrote: Jimmy Rushing is another artist who could be used this way --- his stuff with Basie swings so hard, but I also just got a later album of his - "Everyday I have the blues" - which has a bunch of hard driving blues that everyone seems to dig.
Speaking of Jimmy Rushing, I just cannot make myself like his voice. Am I the only one that doesn't like Jimmy Rushing?
-Jeremy

It's easy to sit there and say you'd like to have more money. And I guess that's what I like about it. It's easy. Just sitting there, rocking back and forth, wanting that money.

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#14 Post by Soupbone » Tue Aug 05, 2003 10:56 am

yedancer wrote: Speaking of Jimmy Rushing, I just cannot make myself like his voice. Am I the only one that doesn't like Jimmy Rushing?
Sorry... can't back you up on that. I likes me some Jimmy Rushing. My fave Rushing feature is (I believe) the last tune he ever recorded with Basie called "Walking Slow Behind You." It's got the best lyrics about killing someone who's messing with yer lady friend I've ever heard ("Satan's going to claim you for his own, if you don't leave my baby alone".... good stuff :)).

Given, most of the stuff of his that I like I wouldn't play at a swing dance. But, that one works well. But, anyhoo...
Gary

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#15 Post by mark0tz » Tue Aug 05, 2003 11:26 am

Ya, I hella dig that song Soupbone, and I like a lot of other Jimmy Rushing stuff. "Evenin' " comes to mind off of Basie at Newport. Same with some of his "shouting" from Basie at Cafe Society. His voice and style is unique, and I love it. Comparing him to Joe Williams, though, is like comparing apples and oranges.
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