This month, I am joined by pianist and bandleader Gordon Webster. A piano player since age four, Gordon had his first gig playing for swing dancers in 2001 and he caught the Lindy Hop bug soon after. His passion, diversity, and musicianship have made him one of the most sought-after musicians in the Lindy hop world, becoming a fixture at events like The Snowball, Lindy Shock, Swing Camp Oz, and Beantown Camp. His seventh album, entitled “This.” was released this month, and he is currently wrapping up an ambitious Indiegogo campaign supporting that album and an upcoming digital single-of-the-month club.
Gordon and I sat down at his home in New Jersey to talk about his development as a musician, the moment at Swing Out New Hampshire when he realized playing for dancers is what he was meant to do, and how his approach to band leading is different than some other swing bands today.
We also discussed what goes into recording an album, how Mona’s Tuesday night jam session has become the go-to late night destination for early jazz musicians in NYC, and why he finds the ever-changing tastes of the Lindy Hop scene the greatest inspiration for him as an artist today.
Gordon also speaks candidly about Steven Mitchell, the allegations against him, and how that news impacted him personally and professionally.
This month, I am joined by international instructor and award-winning swing dancer, Todd Yannacone.
Todd has been a traveling instructor since the age of 16 and has won numerous titles at major national and international events. He is a member of the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame and has taught, performed, or judged in 30 countries around the world. When at home in New Orleans, Todd can be found performing on guitar or piano with a number of different bands, including his own, Hot Toddy & His Fully Dressed Po' Boys.
Todd and I sat down at Lindyfest 2017 to talk about being dragged to swing dance classes as a teen by his mom, how Hop the Millennium completely changed his perspective on swing dance, finding inspiration in drastically different dancers (and dances), and why he still considers himself a social dancer above all else.
We also discussed what drew him to New Orleans, his custom guitar and clothing, and even though it sometimes gets lost among all of the posture, counterbalance, and footwork, at the end of the day it's the simple act of holding hands and connecting with a partner that really matters when dancing.
This month, I am joined by one of the top swing drummers in the world, and bonafide rock star, Josh Collazo.
Josh is known to most swing dancers through his work behind the drum kit with bands such as Jonathan Stout’s Orchestra and Campus Five, Dave Stuckey & his Hot House Gang, or perhaps his first band, The Feetwarmers. But Josh may be better known to more mainstream music fans as the drummer for the Grammy-winning and platinum-selling band, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
Josh and I sat down after Lindy Focus XV and talked about how he balances those two musical worlds, how his passion for swing dancing in the late 90s influenced his development as a drummer, and what it’s like to fill the shoes of drum legends like Gene Krupa and Chick Webb at the Lindy Focus tribute nights.
We also discussed his early experiences as a bandleader, the technique and music theory of what provides an authentic swing era sound, and how he has gained enough confidence as a swing musician to take the torch and start creating original swing music with his new group, the Candy Jacket Jazz Band.