KissME in Ann Arbor, July 21-23, 2017

I spent this past weekend at KissME in Ann Arbor – the first time I’ve been to this event, because last year friends of mine with exceptionally poor timing scheduled their wedding the same weekend. At any rate, KissME was a blast. I had so much fun dancing all over Ann Arbor, including the famous river dance on Sunday, and got to spin a few tunes along the way.

KissME Friday

My first set was on Friday night at the very beginning of the evening before Alex Pangman and Her Alleycats took the stage, as people wandered in, registered, and got their T-shirts. This set was about thirty-five minutes long, and I mostly focused on fun, easy-to-dance-to music so people could get comfortable and warmed up on the floor before the live music started. The one song I DJed here that filled the floor almost immediately was Jump for Joy by Sarah Vaughan, which surprised me, because it’s a relatively slow tempo. But Sarah Vaughan’s voice has such beautiful energy and, well, joy, I think people found it hard not to move to it.

KissME Saturday

The next day, I opened the afternoon dance. That was a very tricky mood to hit, because people were tired from the night before, but if I played music that was too slow, they wouldn’t get up and dance to it. I mostly hung out in the 130-150 BPM range, looking for songs with good energy but not blazing tempos. Songs that stood out in this set included Rose Room by the Benny Goodman Sextet, which has a beautiful feeling that I just love, and Alexander’s Ragtime Band by Ray Charles, which is a bit of an unusual choice of artist, but it really swings and I love the driving rhythm.

After the Saturday evening dance, I picked up some albums from the fantastic Boilermaker Jazz Band, who played that evening and did an incredible job. I bought Give Me Your Telephone Number, Live at the Mobtown Ballroom (I’m from Maryland, and Mobtown is in Baltimore, so that’s special to me), and their new album with the music of Benny Goodman, Slipped Disc. They were even nice enough to give me a little extra discount because I’m a DJ.

Of course the first thing I did when I woke up at home this morning was import all the music into my library and put in the BPMs for each song. The Boilermakers like to play fast music, and I love their clean sound and energetic instrumentation, as well as their unique takes on some original big band classics. I look forward to playing more of their music at future gigs!

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