How to bring more live music into the scene?

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djstarr
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How to bring more live music into the scene?

#1 Post by djstarr » Mon Mar 08, 2004 4:29 pm

I've been starting to work on music for the Seattle Lindy Exchange (along with Kevin T., Travis, and Dave (morte100)). One goal is to have more live music for our exchange this year.

A group of dancers in Seattle have been going to see the Ham Carson Quintet at a local creole cafe; I've been tagging along and really enjoying myself. We've been going for a couple of months now and making friends with the band. The band loves playing for dancers; they have a lot more energy when we dance than when we don't. They even like us so much that one of the local entertainment papers has an ad for them playing - and it says "with special guests the Swing Dancers". HA! - We are hoping to lobby this for free drinks ;-)

Anyway, Tonya has booked them for Camp Jitterbug and we have booked them for the Seattle Exchange --- luckily the owner of the Century Ballroom is very cool and is backing us up on our recommendation to hire them again for dance events.

Thought I'd share this story as an example for getting more live music into the scene - I think there is a lot of talent out there, it's just waiting to be tapped into.

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falty411
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#2 Post by falty411 » Mon Mar 08, 2004 5:50 pm

One thing I do want to say about live music. As much as Shorty Dave and I differ as far as what kind of music we like, iI must say I really respect his hard work and diligence in bringing live music to dancers in the New York are.

I also loved the idea of SwingDjs picking up instruments. time for a new thread
-mikey faltesek

"Dancing is the union of the body with the rhythm and the sound of the music." Al Minns in 1984

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yedancer
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#3 Post by yedancer » Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:25 pm

I work with a local jazz singer at the only weekly venue in our city to feature live music for dancers. It sure sucks when only 25 people show up (which happened last night) but on the nights when you get a good crowd, it's awesome.
-Jeremy

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Jake
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#4 Post by Jake » Mon Mar 08, 2004 7:59 pm

falty411 wrote:One thing I do want to say about live music. As much as Shorty Dave and I differ as far as what kind of music we like, iI must say I really respect his hard work and diligence in bringing live music to dancers in the New York are.
And, of course, his conspirators Christine, Nicole, Wexie, and the kids at Yehoodi :)

Toon Town Dave
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Re: How to bring more live music into the scene?

#5 Post by Toon Town Dave » Mon Mar 08, 2004 8:04 pm

djstarr wrote:The band loves playing for dancers; they have a lot more energy when we dance than when we don't.
This is a really good observation. This is common when some of us go out to a local club or lounge where there is live music. It doesn't matter if they are playing swing, blues, jump blues or even latin the pand looks and sounds bored and lifeless until a couple of dancers get going.

In fact there are usually a few of us that take over the area in front of the outdoor free stage at the local Jazz festival. I'm positive all the bands play better when there are dancers. Unfortunately most still play by the book and sound the same every time we hear them but when there are dancers most bands put a little more oomph into it.

I too love decent live music. Some of the "dance" bands around here downright suck. They tend to make canned music appealing.

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Spuds
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#6 Post by Spuds » Mon Mar 08, 2004 9:33 pm

falty411 wrote:One thing I do want to say about live music. As much as Shorty Dave and I differ as far as what kind of music we like, iI must say I really respect his hard work and diligence in bringing live music to dancers in the New York are.

I also loved the idea of SwingDjs picking up instruments. time for a new thread
If I can add to that:

Dave and the Jelly Roll gang are doing pretty much what Frank and I and the rest of the Yehoodi gang wanted to do from day one of creating the site. Bring musicians together with the dancers. It is a pleasure to work with them and get live music out there. I’m pretty much happy with the idea that they take over Yehoodi when I’m ready to drop out of the biz.

And with that, a plug: COME TO Y6A!!! :D

julius
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#7 Post by julius » Mon Mar 08, 2004 10:03 pm

I think the biggest barrier to bringing live music back to dancers is economics. When dancers are satisfied dancing to a cheaper night with a good DJ, it's hard to motivate them to go for a more expensive night with only a marginally better band. The band has to be outrageously good (in my experience) to draw well.

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gatorgal
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#8 Post by gatorgal » Tue Mar 09, 2004 9:09 am

yedancer wrote:I work with a local jazz singer at the only weekly venue in our city to feature live music for dancers. It sure sucks when only 25 people show up (which happened last night) but on the nights when you get a good crowd, it's awesome.
One of my good friends has a steady gig at the Fountainbleau Resort which has no cover, free parking, a decent floor, and a band that will pretty much play anything we want to hear.

I try to encourage folks to hear her every weekend (or at least every weekend we don't have a dance) but we get our biggest response when it's a "special event" or when I make a concerted effort to Lindy Bomb the place. I wish more people would take the initiative to go on their own, but they don't. A shame.

Tina 8)
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BryanC
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#9 Post by BryanC » Tue Mar 09, 2004 9:47 am

I think the better question instead of how to bring live music _into_ a scene is how to get dancers into a live music scene. So many scenes revolve around a venue(s) that is dancer-centric. This means that if dancers want to dance to live music, it's expected that live music is brought _into_ the dancer environment. It's a massive paradigm shift (j/k), but what if dancers went out and brought themselves into their city's live music scene?

If Calgary (a city that is literally in the middle of nowhere) has enough live bands to go OUT dancing to every weekend, surely cities like Chicago, DC, Seattle, and New York must have places to go and bands to see. It doesn't mean everyone goes to the same place, of course, but there's nothing wrong with smaller groups of people going out to smaller places to dance. Or venue hopping. Go scout your city. Go to the mountain, 'cause the mountain ain't gettin' up and coming to you.

P.S. And always, always buy a drink. And tip the waitress. Or bartender. Or waiter.

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#10 Post by julius » Tue Mar 09, 2004 11:29 am

well said.

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Travis
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#11 Post by Travis » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:06 pm

BryanC wrote:I think the better question instead of how to bring live music _into_ a scene is how to get dancers into a live music scene.
It's a two-way street. The venue Brenda mentioned is not dancer-friendly in that there is little space to dance, the floor isn't great, and, unless you're totally clueless, you should order food or a drink. A fair number of locals know about this place but some would still rather go to the established dj'd dance even though the two barely overlap in regards to when each starts and finishes (once could easily go see the live band for 2 hours and still get to the dj'd dance before most people show up). Now that the venue is getting more exposure it'll be interesting to see if more people start showing up.

So, in this case, it took a few of the locals going out and finding the live music and then bringing that music into the dance venues so that the dancing masses can (hopefully) enjoy it.
BryanC wrote:And tip the waitress. Or bartender. Or waiter.
Or the band.

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#12 Post by mity » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:21 pm

I live in NYC. Here we had a little problem with most of our venue's closing (for whatever reason). Now we have a few choices: there are 2 DJ dances, there is a Friday night dance to live music and there is Monday night at luci's.

I choose to attend the DJ nights for the following reason.

I like to dance. And if I choose to go out Friday night or Monday night the dancing will not be good. Most of the bands that play Friday night dance are not particular stellar. Monday dance on the other hand has the best dance band in NYC. However, both venues have the same problem: Not enough good dancers.

Living in NYC I could go listen to good live band (with no dancing) for about the same price at so-so band with some dancing. I choose to go dancing to DJ music and get my dancing fix. And then go to jazz clubs and get my music fix there.

Of course we have exceptions, like jellyroll and other special occasions, when good music meets good dancing. However, those are exceptions and not the standard.

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#13 Post by mousethief » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:30 pm

Travis wrote:It's a two-way street. The venue Brenda mentioned is not dancer-friendly in that there is little space to dance, the floor isn't great, and, unless you're totally clueless, you should order food or a drink.
Unfortunately, lots of dancers are just that clueless. You can trace the roots of this argument back to the Neo Swing craze, when the fad began to die away and club owners were left with dancers who tried to dodge covers and drink free water all night. Not everyone, certainly, but charity is a bad business to be in for entrepreneurs.

Djangos is an upscale, currently-in-identity-crisis jazz club in Dallas. Very much designed for live music and dancers. Hostesses wear evening gowns there (I was there 3 weeks ago anyway) but during the opening week, the Lindy Hoppers came out in their jeans & athletic gear, ate the free nuts and drank water. They were acting like it was Monday Night Football back at the casa. Not all, but enough that Jen and I felt bad to call ourselves Lindy Hoppers.

Kalman
"The cause of reform is hurt, not helped, when an activist makes an idiotic suggestion."

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BryanC
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#14 Post by BryanC » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:43 pm

Travis wrote:It's a two-way street. The venue Brenda mentioned is not dancer-friendly in that there is little space to dance, the floor isn't great, and, unless you're totally clueless, you should order food or a drink.
Yeah, dancers can be completely clueless and totally cheap.

"Small dance space" and "not a great floor" are things that, for the most part, the majority of live venues are going to be like. It's not realistic to pick up the population at something like the Century and transplant them into a small jazz bar. That's just not going to happen--and if it did, it would be a disaster. DJ'd dances will always have their place in any large swing scene, but "small dance space" and "not a great floor" aren't good reasons not to go out and check out your local scene. I agree it's a two-way street, except that most of the traffic seems to be going in the "bring the music to the dancers" direction. There's probably more than one venue that has a good band playing on Friday or Saturday nights. 50 people spread out over 3 venues is totally manageable.

Besides, you'd be amazed at how many people can actually dance in a 10ft by 10ft square, "good floor" or not.

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#15 Post by BryanC » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:46 pm

mity wrote:I live in NYC. Here we had a little problem with most of our venue's closing (for whatever reason). Now we have a few choices: there are 2 DJ dances, there is a Friday night dance to live music and there is Monday night at luci's.
I can't believe that NYC would have a shortage of danceable jazz bands in venues that could hold a handful of dancers. I just can't.

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