You may have noticed we’ve had a lot more live music to dance to this year. That doesn’t stop as we finish out April and head into May. Tonight there’s live music 1950s Rockabilly at JNO from Ross Kleiner & the Thrill from Minneapolis, MN. $10 admission includes a beginning swing dance lesson at 8:15 PM. No partner needed. Dancing til midnight.
We’ve started offing workshops before Jitterbugs’ Night Out each week starting at 7:15 PM. No partner needed. $15 for the workshop includes admission to the dance. This is a great deal anyway, but especially on nights like tonight when we’ve got a national act playing. All the workshops are taught at a introductory level, so no experience is needed. Tonight’s workshop is Intro to Collegiate Shag. Hope to see you there.
We’ve got a couple new classes starting next week. Intro to Lindy Hop and the Big Apple on Thursday and keep your eye out for the announcement of a Balboa class starting next Friday. Also check out Intro to Swing the following Monday.
Check out more upcoming classes and workshops.
Tap Dance Festival
Omaha Jitterbugs is proud to be hosting RHYTHM WEEKEND: The First Omaha Tap Dance Festival. The event is this July, and we would love you to participate by taking classes, or volunteering to help us with the event.
Lindy in the Park
It’s Lindy in the Park Season! Starting in May, we’ll be at our usual spot on the edge of Stinson Park (Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th Street) for our eighteen season. Lindy in the Park will run from 1:00 to 2:00 pm (later if there is a good crowd!) every Sunday through August, and will, as always, be completely free of charge.
You probably already know that Omaha Jitterbugs is a 501(c)3 charity, and depends on the generosity of people like you to continue the programming you love. We are always happy to accept donations, and on May 25, we’re making it easy and fun for you to donate and to invite your friends and family to do the same.
Omaha Jitterbugs will once again be participating in the Omaha Gives annual Day of Giving, and this year there is a new way for you to get involved by creating and sharing a page to promote a charity that you care about. I’ll send more on this later, but in the meantime, check out the Omaha Gives website for more info.
JIVE – Volunteers are the Favorites
Omaha Jitterbug relies on an awesome team of volunteers known as JIVE (Jitterbugs Investing Volunteer Efforts – how’s that for an acronym?) to make our events happen. JIVE members enjoy discounted pricing on classes and events, not to mention that happy feeling that comes from working with friends to support a worthy cause. Speak with either our outgoing volunteer coordinator Kara Penniston or our incoming coordinator Mary Gronewold or email *protected email* to get involved. You will not regret it!
If you have any suggestions, comments, or ideas for Omaha Jitterbugs, or just want to talk about swing dancing in general, don’t hesitate to drop me a line or give a call.
See you on the dance floor!
WILLIAM “CHICK” WEBB: drums, bandleader, song writer.
Born: Feb. 10, 1902, 1905, 1907, or 1909 (most sources cite 1909, but 1907 is most likely), Baltimore, MD.
Died: June 16, 1939, Baltimore, MD.
Chick Webb was born into and extremely poor family and was taken care of by his grandfather. While an infant he was dropped on his back, resulting in several smashed vertebrae. Because of this he was rendered a hunchback and only grew to be four feet tall. He suffered a great deal of pain throughout his life and finally succumbed to tuberculosis of the spine. Because of his small size, other children nicknamed him “Chick,” and the appellation stayed. As a child, he was impressed by the drummers in parade bands that he saw on the way to church each Sunday. At age nine, he left school and sold newspapers to help the family. He earned enough money to buy a second-hand set of drums. Eventually his street-playing gigs around town got him enough attention to acquire his first professional job with The Jazzola Boys playing on excursion boats in the Chesapeake Bay. He struck up a friendship with the band’s guitarist/banjoist John Trueheart. The two left the band in 1924 and headed to New York City. They gigged around and their talents impressed many new and upcoming musicians, one of whom was Duke Ellington. Ellington got Webb his first job as a bandleader at The Black Bottom Club in mid-town Manhattan. Webb, supposedly only 17, was a reluctant leader. Ellington got him another job at The Paddock Club where the band was a sensation. At the end of 1926 a fire closed the club.
Webb’s band started playing at the Savoy Ballroom in Jan. 1927, the venue where he would eventually become the formidable house band. The ballroom had two stages and he played opposite the Savoy Bearcats and Fess Williams. He was still young and inexperienced as a leader, but he didn’t let that stop him from going against such incredible bands as Fletcher Henderson, Joe “King” Oliver, and Fess Williams. Chick Webb and his Harlem Stompers made their first recordings for the Vocalion label on Aug. 25, 1927, but the sides were never released. He had a smaller band throughout this time and wanted to expand its size. When his one-year contract expired at the Savoy, the management refused to let him increase the number of band members. His band played many venues and toured the road starting at the end of 1927. He had many ups and downs, but was determined to become a successful bandleader. He even turned down two offers to join the bands of Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington. In June 1929 Webb made two recordings for the Brunswick label: “Jungle Mama” and “Dog Bottom” credited as “The Jungle Band.” This was rather odd since Duke Ellington had already used this name for the same label. But Webb’s band played in a similar style to Ellington’s current “jungle” sound. In July 1929 Webb filled in for Ellington at The Cotton Club while Ellington was touring. Late 1929 found the band engaged at both the Roseland Ballroom and regularly appearing the Savoy Ballroom.
In early 1931, Webb acquired saxophonist Benny Carter from Fletcher Henderson’s band. Carter was also one of the first great arrangers to work with big bands and he gave Webb’s band a new innovative style. Chick Webb & his Orchestra made their first recordings under Webb’s own name on March 30, 1931 for Brunswick. Following was a period of touring. Carter left the band in Aug. 1931 and took half of the members with him. This forced Webb to reorganize once again. After more ups and downs, the band returned to the Savoy in Oct. 1932 and set an attendance record of 4600. His band backed Louis Armstrong on Dec. 8, 1932 for two Victor recordings “That’s My Home” and “Hobo You Can’t Ride This Train.”
By mid-1933 Webb had hired new band members along with arranger Edgar Sampson, who gave the band yet more stylings. By autumn 1933 the Savoy’s business had recovered enough to use Webb’s band as one of its major attractions. (Prior to this, the Savoy had been losing money and didn’t pay full price for the bands.) On Dec. 20, 1933 Chick Webb’s Savoy Orchestra recorded two tunes for Columbia. “I Can’t Dance, I Got Ants In My Pants,” recorded on May 9, 1934, was Webb’s first record to chart. Edgar Sampson’s “Stompin’ At The Savoy,” recorded May 18, 1934, became one of the biggest monster-hits of the swing era.
Webb had been a member of the Moe Gale Agency since late 1929. Gale was a booker, manger, and stockholder in the Savoy Ballroom. He negotiated a new contract with Decca records, and the band made its first recordings there on Sep. 10, 1934. Two tunes recorded on Nov. 19, 1934, “Don’t Be That Way,” and “Blue Lou,” both became swing era anthems. Webb hadn’t felt that his band had great commercial appeal. His band was musically skilled, but he wanted to gain a wider audience. His current vocalist, Charles Linton, was asked to find another vocalist. He tracked down a young singer he’d heard and brought her to Webb. At first, Webb was coldly unimpressed with the ragged-looking young woman. She wasn’t dressed well, her appearance somewhat unkempt. After some arm twisting, Webb relented and listened to the woman sing. Webb agreed to give her a two-week tryout at the Savoy. The young woman was Ella Fitzgerald.
Webb always got feedback from musicians who attended the Savoy. Kaiser Marshall, Fletcher Henderson’s drummer, told Webb, “You damn fool—you better take her.” Webb had a goldmine in Ella. She recorded her first song with the band on June 12, 1935 with “I’ll Chase The Blues Away.” Ella’s popularity with the public naturally demanded more recordings. On Oct. 29, 1936 she sang her first scat vocal on “If You Can’t Sing It, You’ll Have To Swing It.” Saxophonist/vocalist Louis Jordan was with Webb from 1936-38. (He had some on again/off again relationships with Ella during his tenure.) Jordan sang and acted as emcee at live shows. Supposedly, Webb was more than a little jealous of the attention Jordan was getting—stealing the limelight from his newest female vocalist. In any event, Jordan, who wanted to be a leader and more of an entertainer, either quit the band or was fired by Webb, depending on whose account one reads. Webb had also thought that Jordan was planning on leaving for a while and trying to get other members to quit too. It’s a good thing for music history that Louis Jordan did leave. His Tympany Five group was responsible for the highest amount of top-selling records by black artists from 1943-50.
Webb’s reputation took-off in 1937 due to his weekly radio broadcasts. Webb also got much attention from the battle-of-the-bands events at the Savoy Ballroom. On Feb. 28, 1937 Webb lost out to Duke Ellington. On May 11, 1937 more than 4000 people showed up for the battle with Benny Goodman’s orchestra. 5000 people were turned away. Webb had three books of arrangements, number three being the least difficult and number one composed of the hottest musical pyrotechnics. He beat Goodman with his number three book. When it was over, Goodman’s drummer Gene Krupa, also a friend and admirer of Webb, said, “I’ve never been cut by a better man.” Jan. 16, 1938, the night of Goodman’s famous Carnegie Hall concert, was also the night of Webb’s battle-of-the-bands with Count Basie. Musicians who played at Carnegie Hall rushed to the Savoy afterwards. Webb rarely lost on his home turf, and he pulled out all stops. Webb’s intent that night was to send “those hicks back to the sticks.” Even though Webb played with a fury of blistering intensity, Basie kept calm and swung in a relaxed and solid groove, much to the lindy hoppers’ delight. Webb used his number one book that night. Metronome magazine voted Webb the winner of the night’s escapade. Down Beat declared Basie the victor. Famed lindy hop creator and dancer Frankie Manning said, “Of course we loved Chick Webb. But for the dancers, Basie was the winner!” In any event, the night went down in swing music history as one of music’s greatest competitions of all time.
On May 2, 1938, Ella did a vocal on another of swing music’s all-time greatest hits: “A-Tisket A-Tasket.” Webb was a top-attraction, and Ella was a star vocalist. The band played numerous engagements and toured. From April to May, 1938, Webb’s orch. played a stint at the Flamingo Room of Levaggi’s Restaurant. Webb spend two weeks in the hospital. After leaving the hospital he did more touring. By this time Webb’s health was deteriorating rapidly. Despite his health, he still performed with amazing energy. He never complained of the pain he experienced. In late April 1939 he entered John Hoskins Hospital in Baltimore for treatment of fluid on his spine. Upon his discharge the band played at the Park Central Hotel in New York and afterwards at the Southland Café in Boston. Webb still played with undiminished energy, never allowing the pain to slow him down on the drums. The band continued with one-nighters and Webb’s condition worsened on June 9, 1939. He returned to the John Hoskins Hospital, while drummer Bill Beason took over the band. Webb had resisted his inevitable demise due to tuberculosis of the spine. According to the story, on June 16, 1939, as he was propped against his pillows, he said, “I’m sorry, but I gotta go.” He died immediately after delivering this statement. (Another story states he died in his mother’s arms.) His funeral was one of the largest ever held in Baltimore. People lined the streets and rooftops, and no late comers could make it to the church without a police escort. As many people said, this small man had such a large impact.
Bill Beason and Ella Fitzgerald took their turns managing Webb’s band after his death. The band was billed as “Ella Fitzgerald and Her Savoy Eight” and later as “Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra.” Ella didn’t care to manage a band, and soon after adopted a solo career, with incredible skill and precision earning her the well-deserved moniker “the First Lady of Swing.” Webb was inarguably one of the most important figures in swing music. He was only four feet tall, hump-backed, and had special drums made with extended pedals so he could reach them. He couldn’t read music and memorized every arrangement. He innovated percussion effects and syncopation. Drummers said that when he put the emphasis on beats not normally emphasized, that he was a forerunner of the forthcoming be-bop music. Webb was also one of the first drummers to make use of the high-hat cymbals. Many of the swing era’s most excelled and famous drummers cited Webb as a direct influence—drummers such as Gene Krupa, Jo Jones, Dave Tough, Sid Catlett, and Buddy Rich. Chick Webb departed too soon. It would have been interesting to see what he would have done keeping current with musical trends. Still today, he’s regarded as one of the permanent, primary, percussive practitioners and is held in great esteem; which is as it should be. This way musicians, scholars, and dancers will forever have Webb access.]]>
Hello my little lindyhoppers!
I’ve got some great news for you today. We’re adding some exciting new subscription plans to our existing class offerings. Presently, if you pre-register for a class through Omaha Jitterbugs website, you pay $10 a week per class. This will not change for people interested in just enrolling in a single class.
For some dancers, one class per week isn’t enough. Maybe you’re a beginner and you’re really excited about getting good quickly. Maybe you want to take both Lindy Hop and Balboa at the same time, and there’s also that routines class that you’re interested in.
Starting this month we’ll begin offering an “all-you-can-eat” package for our classes for less than the cost of two classes. If you subscribe, you’ll be able to take as many classes as you can handle that month, for one price. We’re also offering a reduced price for families with shared incomes so that couples or families with teenagers can all enroll in classes at the same time. Families with little ones might want to take advantage of this choice bring the kids to our Itsy Bitsy Jitterbugs classes.
The advantage to this is that we can begin planning classes that match the levels of dancers that have subscribed, which means that we can offer a larger variety of classes. In the past we’ve had a hard time keeping intermediate or advanced level classes going.
When you sign up online, you’ll be enrolled to renew every month until you cancel, and you can cancel at any time. There’s a deeper discount for those who pay for a full year at once. This subscription does not include admission to Jitterbugs’ Night Out or any of our weekend workshop events, unless noted otherwise.
Someone suggested we add a premium version of the subscription that does include JNO, and we’ll consider that if this basic version goes well. Let us know what you think in the comments.]]>
Omaha Jitterbugs is helping you start 2016 off right with opportunities to make good on your new years resolutions; dance more, stay active, learn something new, & meet new people.
Starting this month, we’ve got new classes on Thursdays at A. V. Sorensen Community Center, Fridays at the Eagles Ballroom, and Mondays at Simply Ballroom.
Also, stop by and dance with us Thursday at House of Loom for Sugar Foot Stomp spotlighting Tommy Dorsey (21+, no cover), and Friday for Jitterbugs’ Night Out at the Eagles Ballroom on 24th & Douglas. $5 admission includes a beginning jitterbug lesson at 8:15 (all ages).
One final note is that we’re always looking for new volunteers and new opportunities, so if you have ideas or talents to share, please *protected email*.
Copyright © 2016 Omaha Jitterbugs, All rights reserved.]]>
This week we’ve got lots of dancing! We’re kicking it off with Sugar Foot Stomp tonight at the House of Loom beginning at 8pm with DJs Brian Langbehn and Billy Sobczyk playing a tribute to featured artist Louis Armstrong. No cover. 21+.
Tomorrow our Spirit of Giving continues with two free workshops starting at 6pm upstairs at the Eagles #38 Ballroom. First Stops, and intermediate historical routine with Josie & Brian, and Safe dips and lifts with Kelly & James. At 8, it’s Jitterbugs’ Night Out: Featuring UNO Jazz Band. $10 includes a beginning jitterbug dance lesson at 8:15. This is our final week for accepting toys for Toys for Tots. Bring a toy and take home a free Omaha Jitterbugs magnet.
Also, don’t lose sight of the other special editions of JNO coming later this month, next week’s a holiday party, then it’s our Christmas Day edition, and then our Pajama Party, and then it’s 3 Day Weekend, playing the weekend of the Flying DecaVita’s workshops here in Omaha.
Copyright © 2015 Omaha Jitterbugs, All rights reserved.
Sent via MailChimp on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 3:05 pm
But sometimes, it’s possible to look at the action happening on the dance floor full of experienced, excellent dancers and be intimidated. The best antidote for dealing with these feelings is to remind oneself that dancing is for fun, first and foremost. A high-level dancer I admire and respect tremendously has said that almost everyone on the floor is thinking about their own dancing, the music, and having working well with their partner. Judging them just isn’t on the radar most of the time. This is true even as you are dancing with a lead or follower who is more advanced than you might be. They want a fun dance with a happy partner and aren’t so worried about the mistakes as long as no trauma results. That’s really where it’s at. So fear not and jump on in – the water’s fine!
We will open with a special announcement from Mr. Jeff Koterba of the Prairie Cats. Take it away, Daddy K:
Jeff Koterba from Prairie Cats here…I’m asking for your help for two wonderful women with whom I work at the World-Herald. You may not personally know Jolene McHugh or Susan White, but when I tell you that both women are undergoing extensive treatment for Cancer, I know you’ll understand how costly such treatment is. That’s why the Prairie Cats are playing a benefit for these women, Sunday, Arpil 20th at the Nomad Lounge, 1013 Jones St. in the Old Market.
I’m giving you a heads up on this event now, because we really need to pack the place. Plus, it’s important that we sell advance tickets to better guage how to plan for the evening. First off, the Nomad has been generous to open on a night they’re usually closed. Additionally, we’ll have plenty of raffle prizes and some very impressive silent auction items. The bar will be open and appetizers will be available, too. Plus, my kid, Josh, is opening for the Cats. All this for a suggested donation of $10, $15 at the door. Everything kicks off at 6:30 pm.
Tickets will be available starting this Friday, March 28th at the Omaha Jitterbugs Night Out, Eagles, 24th and Douglas. www.omahajitterbugs.org
Tickets may also be purchased by calling me, Jeff Koterba, 556-2027.
The proceeds will go to both Jolene and Susan. So not only is this for a great cause, well, it’s a great chance to catch the Prairie Cats in a really swanky venue. If you haven’t been to the Nomad, there are those who say it’s the closest thing to a New York club we have in these parts.
We’d really love to see you on the 20th of April, and please, if you can, get your tickets early!
Thank you so much in advance for your generosity!
Thanks Jeff! That’s Sunday, April 20th, at the Nomad. A cool club, cool band, and a great cause. What more could you ask for?
Next, I’d like to invite everyone to check out the new Omaha Jitterbugs website, recently re-engineered and re-launched by our web-meister Troy Nothnagel and our promotions manager Merinda Nothnagel. It represents a big leap forward in functionality over the old site, making it easier to navigate and maintain. A big thank-you is due Troy for his diligence and perseverance in this project. Well done, amigo!
The weekend after next, Peter and Mia are teaching at the Rhythm and Jazz Revival festival in Minneapolis. This event replaces the Midwest Lindy Fest usually held about this time. View the event MySpace for more details: http://www.myspace.com/rhythmandjazzrevival
We would like to see as much support as possible from the Omaha scene for two cool regional dance events – the Hawkeye Swing Festival in Iowa City (April 11th-13th; http://www.hawkeyeswingfestival.com/) and the MoKan Swing in Kansas City (April 18th – 20th; http://www.kclindyhop.org/mokanswing/home.htm These are both great events and will be even more fun if Omaha represents in force! I’d love to see thirty Omaha dancers at each, especially the very close-by MoKan Swing. Plan on it, you won’t regret it.
Cowtown Jamborama favorites Peter Loggins and Mia Goldsmith will be coming to Omaha for a workshop weekend May 10th and 11th. They’ll be teaching a full range of material from Pure Balboa through Charleston and Lindy Hop. More details soon to come!
Speaking of the Jamborama, it has been brought to my attention that the current scheduling of this year’s event places it in direct competition with the newly announced International Lindy Hop Championships in Washington, D.C. As a result, our event may be moved to the second or third weekend in September. Rest assured that the event will take place, and will be the best one yet.
If you aren’t a friend of Omaha Jitterbugs on MySpace and Facebook, do log on and join us. There are some fun photos on both sites. Also, for more OJ photo action, check out Cliff Crowell’s pics at http://dancerman.smugmug.com/.
Please pre-register for classes by emailing *protected email* with “Class Registration” in the subject line. Specify what classes you are interested in, and be sure to include your phone number so we can contact you in the event that the class has to be cancelled. Thanks!
This week’s swing birthdays include Thad Jones (3.28.23), Paul Whiteman (3.28.1890), Astrud Gilberto (3.30.40), Freddie Green (3.31.11), Red Norvo (3.31.1908), Harry Carney (4.1.10), Duke Jordan (4.1.22), John Laporta (4.1.20), Booker Little (4.2.38), and Bubber Miley (4.3.1903).
Last week’s trivia question was: This amazing singer, possessor of a voice Mel Torme called “the single best vocal instrument of any singer working in the popular field,” was “discovered” by Billy Eckstein after she won the famous Apollo theater amateur night. What was her name, and what was her nickname? We’re speaking of the “Devine One”- Sarah “Sassy” Vaughn. Noted for her seemingly limitless range both for pitch and inflection, Sarah ranks with Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holliday as one of the most brilliant jazz vocalists of all time.
Now on to This Week in Swing.
DANCES and SHOWS
Friday 3/28 Jitterbugs Night Out – Eagle’s, 24th and Douglas Streets – Beginning lesson at 8pm; open dancing from 8:30 to midnight. $5.
CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS:
Starting this Week:
Ongoing this Week:
Wednesday, April 2nd 7pm–Intro to Lindy Hop with Brian and Josie- LaVista Community Center – (week 3of 4)
Saturday, April 5 – 12 noon Lindy IIa with Nate and Christy – Just Dance (4 weeks, $40)
Saturday, April 5 – 1pm Jitterbug (single time swing) with Nate and Christy – Just Dance (4 weeks, $40)
Monday, April 7 – 7pm Lindy I with Nate and Christy – Location TBA (4 weeks, $40)
Monday April 7 – 8pm Advanced Concepts in Swing with Nate and Christy – Location TBA (4 weeks, $40)
Saturday May 3 – 12 noon Lindy IIb with Nate and Christy – Just Dance (5 weeks, $50)
Saturday May 3 – 1pm Intro to Swing with Nate and Christy – Just Dance (5 weeks, $50)
Monday May 5 – 7pm Lindy I with Nate and Christy – Location TBA (4 weeks, $40)
Monday May 5 – 8pm Continued Advanced Concepts in Swing – Location TBA (4 weeks, $40)
UPCOMING NOTABLE EVENTS
4/11 to 4/13 – Hawkeye Swing Festival
4/18 to 4/20 – MoKan Swing
4/25 – Green Party at JNO for Arbor Day
5/10 and /11 – Workshop Weekend with Peter and Mia
7/04 – Ralston Parade
8/21 to 8/24/08 The Cowtown Jamborama VI
TRIVIA – The person sending the best response to *protected email* will receive $5 in Jitterbucks at the next Jitterbugs’ Night Out. Put “trivia” in the subject line. Ties will be broken by time of receipt.
For five Jitterbucks: On January 16, 1938, Count Basie’s guitarist Freddie Green did something that he almost never did in his entire career. What was it, and under what circumstances?
See you on the dance floor!
This message was sent by: Omaha Jitterbugs, PO Box 27618, Omaha, NE 68127-0618]]>
Friday, March 14 2008 the Omaha Jitterbugs present the Rite of Swing dance and toga party in celebration of the soon-to-arrive Spring equinox. Live music will be provided by the sensational Prairie Cats! (www.prairiecats.com. ) Beginning swing lesson at 8pm; open dancing 830 until Midnight. There will be an informal contest for best Roman attire. Location is upstairs at the Eagles Club, 24th and Douglas Streets in downtown Omaha. Admission $7 if you’re wearing a toga, $10 otherwise. Come welcome the return of Spring in swingin’ first-century-frat-house style!]]>