Musicians We Should Hear at Frankie100

Frankie100 is a year away and so goes the wild speculation about what it will be like. A recent comment on Facebook got me to thinking about the possible live music for this thing. Music is  the main ingredient for any dance event, but at something like Frankie100 where you’re expecting the bulk of the existing Lindy Hop population to attend, there are a lot of “considerations,” to put it politely, that you have to keep in mind.

I should note that even though I worked for Frankie95, I don’t have any intention of working for Frankie100, so I’m not working from any insider knowledge of that particular event. This is just blatant fan speculation on my part. Read the rest of this entry »

The Proletariat’s Favorite Videos of 2011

This list is different from the Most Popular Lindy Hop Videos of 2011 post from last week in that it is a compilation of videos that were popular with the visitors of the Wandering & Pondering Facebook Page.

In putting this list together, I ran into the same problems as I did in selecting blog posts to feature in the Wandering & Pondering’s Lindy Blogging Highlights of 2011. It’s a bit difficult trying to determine what was more popular than others based on all the different data available, both objective and anecdotal. In the end I just took everything that got pretty good numbers in one category or another, but didn’t do any sort of ranking other than selecting the main video out of each category to highlight at the beginning of each category.

The other thing I noticed is how something like this is at the mercy of what I decide to post. I realized this after noticing that this list is short on ILHC entries, and that’s when I remembered that I actually didn’t post many videos from that event because I saw everyone else was posting them on Facebook, on their blogs, and other places.

One of the purposes of the FB page is to drop the hidden gems I find without going through the trouble of formatting them for presentation here on this blog. In the process, I deliberately eschew stuff I figure most people already know is out there. Part of that is because I feel that the kind of person that follows this blog is past the casual beginner stage, and is a bit more discriminating in their tastes. I think that’s reflected in the videos you guys ended up favoring over others.

Yeah, I just realized that I just described you and my blog as the hipster part of the Lindy scene. I apologize.

But check out the first video below featuring Marie N’diaye & Anders Sihlberg which was the overwhelming favorite on this list.  It has a pretty good view count of over 3200+ views, but is well short of the videos from the most popular list. The Harlem 2011 Solo Jazz Contest clip is the same way, but there was still over lap with the first list as The Harlem Hot Shots at Herrang, and Slow Club’s Two Cousins were also pretty heavily favored.*

I’m not sure what that says about you guys, but I do like your taste in videos.

Couple Routines

“Denim Moves / Marie and Anders / Lindy Hop”

Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering & Pondering’s Lindy Blogging Highlights of 2011

Because there really wasn’t much happening on this blog. Fortunately, the lindy blogging community exploded like a hippo after a trip to a state fair chili cook off.

I talked about this extraordinary growth earlier this year on this blog, and it’s been good to see it continue. I mentioned in my first year anniversary post that I started this blog mostly because I wasn’t seeing much in depth conversation about dancing. I like to pretend that my lack of production is reflected in the fact that so many other people are posting interesting stuff.

I wanted to do the same sort of thing for blog posts as I did for the most popular Lindy Hop videos, but I quickly discovered how hard that would be since there is no one place like YouTube where I can reliably check who has had the most hits over the past year. At first I went through my handy dandy Facebook page for this blog and compiled the posts that got the most “likes” and comments. As I went further back, I realized the problem with this approach since I only started FB page in February, so obviously items posted earlier this year got fewer responses. Facebook does provide “Insight” numbers (number of impressions, views, clicks, responses, and virality which sounds slightly obscene) for posts on the page, but they only go back to July 19, 2011. The other problem I noticed is that really popular posts like stuff by Bobby White or Rebecca Brightly were re-posted by other people which would garner responses I wouldn’t necessarily notice, and would subsequently lessen the likelihood of people liking or commenting on my page. I thought about alternate ways to factor this in, but there really isn’t a good way to do it, especially with my short attention span.

Ultimately, I compiled this list based on a combination of the available data, my terrible memory, and arbitrary bias. If you think of a really cool post that isn’t included here, feel free to post it to the comments. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mobtown Ballroom Grand Opening: A Baltimore Homecoming

At the end of her second encore of the night, after playing for five hours, an exhausted Meschiya Lake motioned for everyone to kneel as she drew out her final chorus.  She then joined them on the ground, genuflecting to them as much as they were to her, and drew out a final breathless coda that brought everyone back to their feet, arms outstretched, and thanking her for helping them open this new house of a different kind of worship.

It’s hard not to make the religious parallels. The new Mobtown Ball is in what was formerly known as St. Paul the Apostle Episcopal Church and before that as Henshaw Memorial Church for almost 100 years. After the last congregation left a few years ago, the building was home to gutter punks who staged shows in the abandoned spaces. The neighborhood itself is known unglamorously as Pigtown, a name it got when there were slaughterhouses in the area to service the nearby rail road station now museum. The latest chapter of this eclectic history started on September 24, 2011, and centers on a bunch of Lindy Hoppers. Read the rest of this entry »

Believe It x2

It’s not too often that you get to hear the same band with the same personnel play the same song on the same recording date and give it two entirely different feels.

The band I’m referring to is basically a one time deal called “The Chocolate Dandies.” This particular aggregation recorded for Commodore Records in New York City over 60 years ago on May 25, 1940.  They made six recordings that day including two versions of “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me.”

The first version was brought to my attention twice by two separate people.  Skye Humphries first mentioned it to me last summer, and then I later heard Naomi Uyama play it while DJ’ing at The Jam Cellar one evening.

This is actually called “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me #2,” but I heard this one first. Shoot me.

It’s pretty slow at about 127 beats per minute, just barely skimming the line between being able to swingout to it and straight up ballad.  The thing that helps blur that line is the playing of the front men who will all speed up as often as they slow it down during their solo’s without changing the overall tempo.  This is a master class on how to swing.  The effect at this tempo gives the song a nice dynamic that keeps listeners and dancers on their toes without confusing them.  I think it’s just a gorgeous song to dance to.  Not pretty or cute.  I’m talking about the definition of beauty for the ears.

Read the rest of this entry »

Camp Jitterbug 2010 Roundup

Camp Jitterbug is THE most important Lindy Hop event in the Western Hemisphere right now.  The killer instructor line up; great live and DJ’d music, uber high level contests, and the one of a kind Jump Session Show. I’ve never been actually, but it’s significance is such that it cannot and should not be ignored.   Read the rest of this entry »


Benny Powell passed away this weekend just at a time when I’ve been considering the concept of humility quite a bit lately.

Benny played trombone for Count Basie through much of the New Testament period of that orchestra.  I had the pleasure of meeting him while working on Frankie95 last year.  He was one of the more prolific musicians during the weekend.  He co-led the band for Frankie’s memorial service.  Then the next night my man just showed up to play when he didn’t have to.  He confused the heck out of everyone because we thought he just got his nights mixed up since he was scheduled to play with Wycliff Gordon and Art Baron on Monday night.  But he heard of the three big bands playing on Saturday, and just wanted to be there.

He was just amazed at the energy of the people and the event.  And he was more than happy to give it back.  Hearing and watching him play that Monday with Wycliff Gordon was really one of the most inspiring nights of music that I’ve ever witnessed.  Benny’s sound felt like a soft cool breeze in comparison to Art Baron’s heat and Wycliffe’s sheer power.  He was just coolest cat on that stage in his hat, smiling at the 1200+ people in the ballroom.  Those guys were supposed to stop playing around 1 am, but they kept rollin along until the bitter end of the event at 2 am.  Their version of Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” still haunts my waking dreams to this day. Read the rest of this entry »

A Year’s Worth of Wandering & Pondering in One Post

When I started my blog I read all kinds of nifty tips to make it awesome and get lots of people to read it.  Oddly enough, all of them fail to advise you to post something actually interesting.

This may sound a bit conceited, but I think most of the stuff I post here is pretty interesting to read.  Maybe not all of it.  Just 98%, give or take a couple percentage points.  I should know—I read it all the time, and I never get tired of me.

One fun tip talked about summarizing your blog’s content every once in awhile, so for all of you new readers here who keep searching for Skye’s non existent website or information on a certain convicted lindy hopper’s sentence*, here’s a handy dandy guide to all the other stuff you’re missing.  Or if you’ve already read them, here’s your opportunity to go back and relive the pain and/or the glory. Read the rest of this entry »

Frankie95 Highlights and Observations Pt VII

Part seven of my Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Festival recap with a few grammatical edits from the original.  You can see a compilation of videos from Sunday here on my site.    This note was originally posted on June 24, 2009.

The rest of Sunday evening went pretty smoothly.

Sitting through the Jack & Jill semi-finals reminded me why these things are usually scheduled in the afternoon of most events. We were originally supposed to do it right after the show and before the bands took the stage to give people time to go eat dinner or otherwise freshen up. Unless you’re in it, prelims and semi-final dance contest rounds aren’t the most riveting things to watch. Thanks to Joel Domoe, Aurelie & Tony Tye and our DJ, Ryan Swift for moving things along as quickly as possible.

We were incredibly fortunate to be working with Jonathan Stout and Paul Cosentino that night. I usually get the impression from most bands that they feel like they’re slumming when they play a swing dance. However, Jonathan and Paul genuinely love playing for dancers, and they were incredibly accommodating for all the delays and changes that happened that evening. They were super generous by giving up playing time so everything could be done in a reasonable time. Read the rest of this entry »

Frankie95 Review: The Warm-Up

I am in the process of re-posting a series of notes I originally put up on Facebook recapping my involvement with Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Festival. I wasn’t planning posting the following note, but as I was preparing this series, I noticed that there’s some interesting background bits that I thought may be useful to know to give what comes later a little more context. This was originally posted on March 30, 2009 entitled:

An Unofficial and Very Vague Frankie 95 Update

A few people have questions about what’s happening with Frankie’s 95th Birthday Festival. To be honest, there aren’t that many answers. Or at least few that I can give publicly.

It’s become cliché to call this the biggest Lindy Hop event “eva,” but it’s very apropos. It’s a big, huge beast with a lot of moving parts dependent on other parts, some of which are not in place yet.

Read the rest of this entry »

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