Last Saturday, all the cool cats at Downtown Brewing Co. were really digging those hepcats that were blowin’ up a storm on stage.
If you are unfamiliar with slang from the swing era, the word “cool” that many of us use today came from the 1950s and is used as a superlative; “cats” are jazzmen or people who love jazz; “digging” means to like; and “hepcats” are swing musicians.
Royal Crown Revue, the band that transported its audience back in time to the swing era (1935-1946), has been around for close to two decades and is widely known for reviving swing and rockabilly music nationwide in the early ’90s. The band is comprised of Eddie Nichols (vocals), Mando Dorame (tenor sax), Daniel Glass (drums), Scott Steen (trumpet), Mark Cally (guitar), Dave Miller (bass) and Jim Jedekin (baritone/alto sax).
If watching the band – which fit the part of a group from the ’30s with slicked-back hair, perfectly tailored double-breasted vintage suits and cool attitudes that made them all but ooze “smooth” – didn’t get concert-goers into the vibe of the music, then just looking around the venue most certainly would have.
The audience was a mix of ages, ranging from ladies and gents in their 20s to hipsters well into their 50s. Women were dressed in period outfits complete with flowers in their hair, tight pencil skirts and ruby-red lipstick. Men looked sharp by embracing the fedora.
The whole performance was full of energy. The audience and the band seemed to feed off of one another’s intensity because it was hard to choose what to watch more: the jitterbugs doing a mean lindy hop on the dance floor or the incredibly talented band that was in the groove.
Songs like “Zip Gun Bop,” “Hey Pachuco” and “Swingin’ All Day” gave way to infectious fast tempos, complicated hooks and creative solos from each member of the band. It wasn’t even an option to sit on the sidelines and watch others jump and jive to these songs; cutting a rug was required.
To slow the performance down a bit and let the sexy sounds of the saxophone come out, “Stormy Weather” was played.
At some points, lead singer Nichols, who spoke like an East Coast gangster, stepped off the stage to allow each member to get a little bit of individual spotlight and play some hot licks.
All the musicians were excellent and insanely creative, but Glass had talent that could only be described as exceptional and unforgettable. He was drumming so fast at times that it looked as though his hands weren’t connected to the rest of his body. At one point, he was even drumming on the strings of the bass, while Miller changed chords on the upper part of the instrument.
The night came to an end with an encore performance of “Viva Las Vegas” that was murder and left the crowd begging for more.
So if swing music and dancing is your bag, it would definitely be in your interest to check out the scene the next time these ‘Gators come into town.