Nouveau Swing

Hot Club of Cowtown and others revive the rebel spirit of Django Reinhardt

If that sounds familiar, it should. It was during the post-World War II era that the musical universe was shifting on its axis in a number of entirely new directions. Swing, the music of Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw, began to dry up, and its hip cousin bebop was commanding attention, along with its brother, Latin jazz. Its other cousin, rhythm and blues, was in its prime Ė Louis Jordan and Slim Gaillard were doing the flat foot floogie with a floy floy!

Over in hillbilly holler, Tennessee Ernie Ford and others were helping to invent a crossbred country-boogie thing that pointed right to Elvis and the rockabilly kids, who were five years down the road, while Bill Haley and His Comets turned R&B and swing into rock 'n' roll. It was a glorious mess.

Other acts joining the Hot Club of Cowtown on their past-blast, mix-and-match revival include San Francisco's Johnny Dilks and His Visitacion Valley Boys, who passed through Phoenix in February; Deke Dickerson, who has a new disc called Deke Dickerson in 3-Dimensions! split up into equal sections of R&B, rockabilly and Western bop; and then there's Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys.

Newbie old-timey bands are on the rise. Here, we see Hot Club of Cowtown.
Señor McGuire
Newbie old-timey bands are on the rise. Here, we see Hot Club of Cowtown.
Reinhardt's the standard-bearer.
Reinhardt's the standard-bearer.


Scheduled to perform with Riders in the Sky on Thursday, March 27. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $19 to $35. Call 602-267-1600 for more information.
Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street

Big Sandy is actually Robert Williams, and when New Times spoke to him on his cell phone the other day, he and his Fly-Rite Boys were spinning their wheels in a snowstorm, somewhere on the Colorado border, and were desperately hoping they could somehow negotiate their way to a gig at Harvey's Wagon Wheel hotel and casino in Central City, Colorado. It wasn't looking all that good.

Big Sandy has a new disc out in April called It's Time, which is the usual fine mix of hillbilly heartbreakers, rockabilly and Texas swing, and Williams had this to say about being stranded on the borders of musical genres: "I'd like to have the lines be just as blurred within the framework of what we do as it has been in the past, in musical history. I don't want people to say, well, here's a jazz song, here's a blues or rockabilly song. I want all the influences to mix together and maybe we can take all that old stuff and come up with something entirely new."

Who knows? Worked for Django.

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