Traditionally there are a number of things which herald the arrival of summer. For some it is the arrival of the first swallow, for others its when the hawthorn bushes come into flower. For me there are two indicators that summer, if not yet here, is at least hastening towards us. These are my first cricket match of the year, and the imminent arrival of the UK's (the world's?) only festival dedicated to the electro-swing sound. The former of these took place yesterday (we lost, I still ache), and the latter is now just two weeks away.
In fact, this time in a fortnight I will be on a train returning to London from Birmingham, and if last year's shenanigans are anything to go by, I will be leaving a small pool of dribble on the train's table.
For those of you who haven't heard of Swingamajig, it is, in its own words, "a utopian future where scintillating circus performers meet under night club lasers [...] where the streets are alive with frivolitiesm, festivities and music day and night and where jazz and swing fuse with thundering synths and everyone parties like its 1929." Utopia, indeed.
Less cryptically, and more informatively, Swingamajig is a one-day urban festival in Birmingham dedicated to the electro-swing, gypsy folk and vintage remix sounds. For a taste of what to expect, here's a faintly amateurish video that I made at last year's event.
Building on the success of last year, the festival has expanded quite significantly for 2015. This year we will see six stages of live bands, DJs cabaret performances, circus skills, magic, and all sorts of other nonsense. The gates open at 2pm on Sunday 3 May and close again some 16 hours later at 6am the following morning.
As always at Swingamajig, the cream of the vintage remix and electro-swing worlds will be performing. What more would you expect from a festival organised by the Electric Swing Circus and Ragtime Records? I won't list the whole line up here, but acts definitely not to be missed are French trip-hoppers Chinese Man, the crew behind some of my absolute favourite tunes including this absolute head spinner.
It is to my shame that I have missed Chinese Man every time they have performed in London over the last few years, so I intend to be front and centre this time.
Another act at this year's Swingamajig that come highly recommended are Smokey Joe and the Kid. It would be fair to say that these guys are the electro-swing DJ/producer's act of choice - so many people in the scene cite them as their favourites that again, I find myself asking why I have not yet seen a live performance. Rumour has it that they spend 60+ hours per week in the studio, so it is hardly surprising that they have such popularity. Their sound combines so many styles and flavours that its hard to pin them down to one style, but almost everything they do has a sweet vintage tinge to it and their music is eminently danceable.
Of the live acts, I would also recommend that you catch Jenova Collective, who I saw for the first time a month or so ago - they really killed it in front of a really mixed crowd and are sure to get you moving with their dubby take on Vintage Remix. I'm also sickeningly excited about the Dutty Moonshine big band, which promises to be loosely controlled musical mayhem.
This year one change to the festival is the upgrade of the Ragtime Records stage to the Ragtime Records Warehouse. Anyone who has (literally) bumped into me at a gig knows that my dancing is... expansive, so the implied extra space in this name sounds like a good thing. There's going to be plenty to get me dancing too, with names like Ed Solo (who made the windows shake recently at the Boomtown warm-up event), Don Johnston (ft Leo Wood) - who are behind one of my utter favourite reworks of a classic jazz-age tune - see the video below - the lovely Tallulah Goodtimes, the legend that is Chris Tofu, Mista Trick, Mr Switch (World DMC Champ) and C@ in the H@.
I for one am shivery with excitement - if you've got your tickets I hope that this has helped to get those juices flowing, and if you haven't get over to the Swingamajig website before its too late!
See you in Birmingham!