…want some candy?

A fairly short post about the new track by the fairly well-known Rockabilly band ‘The Baseballs.’ Those of you who aren’t familiar with the band; they use modern songs in the charts and cover them in a rockabilly/do-wop style. Not too thrilled with them to start off, I needed a bit of convincing.

When ‘Candy Shop’ came onto my boyfriend’s cd player in the car one night I was suddenly interested – after a version of ‘torn’ by Natalie Imbruglia that wasn’t particularly to my taste I found myself wanting to dance or sing or whatever else and turned the thing up.

Although covering well-known and sometimes irritating rap tunes and naff r+b stuff, I think what makes the Baseballs interesting is their diverse textures and techniques. For example in Candy Shop, they use everyone’s voice as much as possible with exciting harmonies and add interest with the steady intro and contrasting middle eight. Although very talented musicians, I can’t help but feel that they should push themselves a bit further. I would personally love to hear some of their original stuff – it’s clear that they are exceptionally telented and definitely have the potential to do so. Come on Baseballs, show us what you’re really made of!

But back on topic, their new release is pretty wicked. It would be nice to see a few more modern bands doing some proper music! The original song was released by 50 Cent, so it’s a bit of an insult to even compare the two; of course the Baseballs’ version exceeds every standard that 50 Cent apparently set.

Go out there and buy the single on CD because it’s bloody brilliant.

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Shim Sham…the official guide

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The Shim Sham.
Two very strange words I had only heard in the ‘window cleaner’ context before now. Definitely never heard the two used in the same sentence! It was originally created by Leonard Reed, but the version I learnt was choreographed by Frankie Manning. Originating in the 1920’s, this dance encompassed everyone available at the end of a show… where they would all get up, some dancing and some stumbling through it at the end of the night. This routine is a tap/lindy dance which although appearing quite tricky and technical, should look (when performed correctly) very laid-back and effortless. A round up of the moves in order:

Step Slides x3
Full Break
Push it! x 3 followed by cross overs
Tackie Annie
Full Break
Half Break
Full Break
Half Break
Full Break

Repeat with no full breaks.

Boogie Backs, Boogie Forwards
Boogie Backs, Boogie Forwards
Boogie Backs, Shorty George
Boogie Backs, Shorty George.

And here it is in action, performed by Frankie Manning and Erin Stevens:

I learnt this dance at a 4 hour workshop, which was organised by the teachers of my Lindy Hop class. There was a refresher session a week later, to go over what we had previously learnt. Although hard work, it was certainly a good way to learn such an elaborate routine! It took a while to comprehend that ‘full break’ did not mean ‘coffee break.’ It was a great day, however, and I enjoyed the challenge! Before I went to bed that night, I persuaded my sister to walk through the Shim Sham again to try and hold it all in my head. We both definitely panicked when we realised the full break was completely obsolete and out of time! I began to get frustrated, having understood the routine that afternoon. I went to bed, and even as I laid in the dark carried on muttering … ‘left, right, left, left…’ (believe me, if you ever learn the Shim Sham, this is what will happen to you.)

After another practice in the kitchen the following morning, however, it ‘clicked’ and all came together. After running over it a few more times, I began to be able to do it without really thinking. The ‘concentrating face’ had been replaced with a smile (no jazz hands, NEVER!) I advise those who are learning:
-Knees bent
-Small, comfortable steps
-Arm co-ordination
-EXPRESSION!

At the end of the day, just enjoy it and have fun. This is what the Shim Sham is all about!

Oh, and to deviate, there is a story that my lindy hop teacher Caron told us about how the name ‘Lindy Hop’ came about.

At a charity dance marathon in 1928, a reporter saw famous Shorty George break from the group of dancers in the hall, and asked him: ‘What is this dance you’re all doing here?’ George, shrugging, replied ‘No idea, it’s just what we do.’ The reporter insisted upon a name so George had a look at a newspaper cover laying on the next table about Lindbergh’s famous ‘hop’ across the atlantic in a plane. So, naturally, George replied ‘Lindy Hop.’

Anyway…
The performance at Skegness was last night and although not too enthusiastic to join in, the crowd seemed to enjoy it. Even if they didn’t, we did and it went very smoothly.

I would recommend to any Lindy Hopper, Jiver or jitterbugger to learn the Shim Sham… it’s a necessary part of swing and it’s good fun. Maybe not a dance that appears regularly at the clubs but it’s a really nice dance to be able to get up and do on your own without needing a partner.

Good luck and enjoy it!

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

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I first discovered this band when looking for a cover of ‘I wanna be like you’ on the old youtube! Initially what drew me in was their sensual salsa sound but after a bit of research I realised that this influence wasn’t all there was to this group! They are recognised more commonly for playing wild, unleashed swing music with 1920’s influence… a hint of rock and roll and just a pinch of cuban style.

Album cover for 'Americana Deluxe'

So after listening to a few tracks, I decided to hunt down an album to buy. I browsed around Amazon and eBay, and their own personal website. The copy of ‘Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Americana deluxe’ (produced by Coolsville Records) I found was around £7 (this particular album I found was very rare and virtually out of production!) I recieved it promptly in the post; the booklet provided information of the band members in a beautifully designed cover. It’s evident that a lot of hard work has gone into the design! Being an art student, I really appreciate this, and it’s what I love about buying CD’s rather than downloading music. So, I discovered the eight members of this band; Andy, Jeff, Kurt, Scotty, ‘The Kid,’ Karl, Dirk and Josh. The big band brass sound they produce clearly neeeds all eight members. All are used to their optimum capacity; when listening it sounds as though there is a full concert orchestra playing, quite remeniscent of the Brian Setzer Orchestra. That quirky walking bass, the rock and roll brass and swing drums. There is an element of showground extravagance and that vintage feel of ‘showtime!’ I’m not a huge fan of jazz music and big band but these really rock the joint as well as jazzing it up.

From backstreet sleaze, (Maddest Kind of Love) to fast swing… to saucy cuban tunes, (Please Baby, Mambo Swing) this band has it all. One of the first things I thought when listening to this album was; ‘Bet they’re sweet live.’ A whirlwind of energetic musicians who just love to make music. When talent and enthusiasm collide, it’s a beautiful combination! (And may I appreciate, as a piano player that their pianist is extremely advanced.)

I particularly liked ‘Jumpin’ Jack’ and ‘Minnie the Moocher.’ Big Bad Voodoo Daddy just ooze ‘cool’ and style; the juxtaposition of parts is interesting and entertaining, no two instruments play the same part at the same time. Even though the tracks are quite long, they continue to keep the listener entertained by swapping roles, including reoccuring sections, solos and vocal parts. No two songs are the same, and this album is enjoyable throughout.

I recognised a few well-known extracts from famous swing tunes and other songs such as the small clip of ‘it don’t mean a thing, if you ain’t got swing’ in ‘Jumpin’ Jack’ and a small comical extract of the funeral march in ‘Minnie the Moocher.’ I can safely say that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are a fantastic example of true fusion. They are the real deal when it comes to swing music and I highly recommend this album. It’s also nice to hear different members sing the final track, in a flamboyant show stopping finale.

Next: The original Frankie Manning’s Shim Sham… and how to retain your sanity when trying to learn it!

Maunside Radio

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I am currently listening to Maunside Radio; a station based around Mansfield. Although it offers a diverse lineup of shows, I am going to be writing about the Rock and Roll show on Wednesday nights 19:00 until 22:30. This is the first time I have listened to this particular rock and roll radio show; in the past I’ve tuned in and out of various other stations but I have to say that this show has really impressed me! Concise dialogue and loads of excellent tunes. ‘Sexy Mother For Ya’ and ‘Dynamo’ being examples of these; the diverse songs chosen are very enjoyable. Often a problem with rock and roll radio shows, is that the songs blend together in a mass of someone’s personal taste that reeks of one genre or area of rock and roll. This show, however is extremely exciting in its music choice; from rockabilly to 1940’s lindy tracks to local bands…to the classics 1950’s rockin’ tunes.

They can accept requests, which is always a great personal touch for listeners. I personally sent a request for ‘High Class Lady’ by the Lennerockers and it was played accompanied by a lovely comment from the DJ! Brilliant.

Thoroughly recommend the station, if you want to listen go to

www.maunsideradio.com and click ‘Listen Now’ at 7:00 on a Wednesday night… enjoy, and rock on! Support this local station!

 

Americana International at Newark showground… part 2

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So by tea time I was feeling a bit more like rockin’ it up. Especially as the rain had stopped (albeit everything was very wet) and Si Cranstoun was coming up at about 9 o’ clock. After eating, I replaced my smarter shirt with the Vince Ray one I bought earlier and we went to see Si.
I’ve heard a lot about this guy, both good and bad; some relinquish in the idea that ‘Dynamo’ was in fact his ‘only good song’ but a lot of others have described having fantastic nights out at his shows. I was pleased to finally see the man behind that floor-filling single, and put a face to a name. What struck me instantly was how powerful his voice was; from such a slight man it was pretty impressive! He really knows how to sing and has been doing it for years. There were songs I enjoyed in his performance but generally I began to realise that it wasn’t Si that was the problem but the band behind him. Armed with trumpets and reggae guitar, the ska-element of the backing turned the hairs on the back of my neck up (in a bad way) and although all were excellent musicians, the sound wasn’t really rock and roll. It’s a shame because I’ve listened to his album since, and it’s a lot more like the traditional 1950’s rock and roll with a modern twist. I wouldn’t travel to see him again (unless it was just him or if he had a different band) but would still enjoy his music if he had a set alongside other bands. Part of it was personal taste too; the fusion may be interesting and enjoyable to someone else but personally I really can’t stand ska or reggae music so it just put me off. However kudos to him for writing his own songs; they were just as well written as some of the old rock and roll that’s continuously regurgitated. It was really refreshing to hear new music, and to not know all the songs for a change.

(Thank you wordpress for saving my draft without telling me… internet explorer did that old trick of closing itsself down.)

It seemed like a vast proportion of the day was spent going back to the car to get more snacks; after Si Cranstoun we adhered to this tradition and sat eating doritos while watching people go by. It was a while until the Fret Tones and Jack Rabbit Slim. A group of ladies came by and one decided to have a look around our car even though we remained inside it. The light of the day had now diminished and it was beginning to get dark; combined with the blacked out windows of Barrie’s pimped out PT cruiser it was amusing to realise that said lady had not noticed that people were inside. As she approached the front bumper, squinting at the paintwork in the bad lighting, we flashed the headlights at her. The amusement of ourselves was probably not matched to hers; she didn’t seem too impressed that we made her jump… but then she laughed (after recovering from the shock) and came to chat to us for a bit.
We went inside to the pavilion, to see the Fret Tones. Although the room was filled with violent drunks and The Fret Tones (although we only caught the end of their set) were surprisingly good. The guitarist was incredibly talented and I could have watched him play all night. They really entertained and had a brilliant stage presence. I would definitely go and see them again and would like to get to know a few more of their songs! Their sax player was impressive!
After the Fret Tones it was of course JACK RABBIT SLIM.
My personal favourite.
These were fantastic, as I’d expected; the new album hadn’t been really exciting I didn’t find but live… these guys were absolutely fantastic. Desperately disappointed that I didn’t manage to dance to any of their set – apart from a salsa to ‘Wolf Call,’ but they were really enjoyable. They have that kind of lowdown and dirty blues element and you can’t help but to be swept up in it and love it to bits. This is my favourite genre of rockabilly and I can’t resist it! Fantastic set, and wicked dancing from a couple near us.

Knackered, we went home shortly after they’d finished.

Next year I’m staying all weekend.

Americana International at Newark (FRIDAY day and evening)

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PART 1

To arrive at Newark Showground on the 8th of July with dark clouds looming overhead wasn’t too promising. We arrived around midday, and ate straight away until the shower that had begun already had passed. Could hear a girl singing in the country and western stage but didn’t know who it was; to be honest we didn’t spend much time there throughout our stay. We began looking round the extensive rock and roll stalls before seeing some friends we knew who had packed what seemed like everything but the kitchen sink (full changes of clothes including knickers being a highlight of the list!) As the rain began to threaten again, we dashed to Angie’s caravan. After declining an offer of bacon sandwiches, we sat and chatted to her until the second shower had passed; whilst missing the beginning of Rocket ’88’s performance. Angie particularly sat with a pained expression; missing one of her favourite bands all for the sake of avoiding a downpour. We managed to run and catch the end of their set and they were good, caught up with some friends while they were on so didn’t manage to give the band my full attention. The dancefloor was covered in puddles of rain and looked like a deathtrap; a very minor hinderence for some hardcores however!

I finally bought a Vince Ray t-shirt from an ace little stall for £15. Had a chat to the stall owner and the materials he had on sale he’d ordered from America. Noticed a wicked cotton material very similar to Imelda May’s dress on Graham Norton’s show Jan 2011. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzy0LeT0jzs) saw some jackets with a panel of said material on later when looking around. Wish that the Americana highstreet could replace the normal highstreet; there seemed to be absolutely everything available to buy. I bet some people (with money) bought some very rare dresses that weekend! Saw a particularly gorgeous Hawaiian wiggle dress that I have had an everlasting yearning for!

These few minutes when looking around the stalls were about the only moments of sunshine we got all day. Maybe the removal of the jacket was a bit optimistic.

We had a little peep into the jive class going on in the main pavilion; during which we bumped into (literally) a very excited Paul and Theresa. We all had a dance inside to Please Mama Please by Go Cat Go and followed with a Charleston Stroll to a rockabilly cover of ‘Wanna be like you’ from the Jungle Book. One of my favourite Charleston stroll numbers! The much loved Hicksville Bombers played at around 4pm; and this is when the real excitement began. Not only was torrential rain witnessed and survived but HAILSTONES the size of very large peas; three enormous umbrellas between the three of us was only just enough coverage! I don’t think I have ever experienced the horrendous conditions that ensued. Violent thunder, streak lightning, rain pounding overhead and a gorgeous full half circle rainbow caused a lot of distruption to the Bombers’ gig. But in true style, they embraced the weather and played upon it; ‘we have a new competition, enter the new Hicksville Bombers wet t-shirt competition and get a free cd!’ Definitely a memorable gig; the crowd had definitely warmed to the fact that they were going to get wet no matter what. The dancefloor was used as a swimming pool and even through the worst of the downpour; boppers still raved and splashed around in the wet. I had my first ever jive in the rain, which was brilliant until we called Time Out as it got heavier. The rumbling, fast pace of the Hicksville Bombers’ sound combined perfectly with the thunder and lightning; what an atmosphere.

Part two to come soon… including the fantastic performance from Jack Rabbit Slim, a surprising discovery at the Fret Tones gig and publicly flashing innocent women!

 

and so it begins…

Hi guys,

So the plan is to keep this blog as a review page for any local gigs or films or festivals that I go to. Nothing too serious, it’s just a bit of fun really to keep me writing and will be nice to remember some of the less memorable gigs or bands that I see.

These reviews will probably be heavily weighted on the rock and roll side, but it gives people in the circle (and out) to read about some local bands in the area.

Hope you will all enjoy reading!
Sarah

 

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