Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping the gigs coming...

Hello all! Since my last posting, I've had the phone ring for a couple of more gigs for the Singapore Slingers, my 18 piece 'fox-trot orchestra.' With the advent of 2010, we've got at least a gig a month, through April... not bad for an 18 piece group in this 'economic climate'- whatever that means.

I found myself on the orchestra's Myspace page, updating our upcoming shows, and anyone who has ever listed a show or two on Myspace knows that you run into your past shows as you enter in new ones. They don't disappear into the ether... rather, they hang around on your page, and in this case, they hang around to remind myself that yes indeed- I have gotten this group off the ground, a feat I'm just a little bit proud of.

The Singapore Slingers have been gigging since October of 2008, when we played for a silent film night at the old Texas Theater, but we have actually been plugging away since December 2007, when our first rehearsal was held. We took a stab at it, but decided to hold off until 2008, when we picked back up in April. The time between then and our October gig was spent gathering repertoire, going through flaky players, and finally settling on a rehearsal spot. While the work never ends, those beginning months were definitely the hardest.

I can recall a gig in the fall of 2007 when I was doing sideman duty. Before downbeat, and after all was setup, I found myself talking with one of the other musicians there about my goal of having this group- with complete instrumentation, resulting in not 5, not 8, not 11 player, but with the full compliment of 17 or 18, which by the way, is about how many players the average 'stock' arrangement called for at it's fullest. I was told point blank it couldn't be done. Undeterred, I continued my quest for a 'fox trot orchestra' (as opposed to a 'swing band'), slowly but surely rounding up players.

The first result was a small group, almost a salon orchestra, that took a few photos but never gigged. I kept the whole idea rolling until I had rounded up 16 musicians as crazy as myself. They came from pit orchestras I'd worked with, Craigslist ads, and recommendations from current musicians. When I was first gathering musicians, some asked if I was in search of musicians to play a one time gig- like a musical- but nay, I told them that I was after something that Dallas needed, and didn't have... a band to bring back the sounds of the 1920s and 30s- something to evoke an era long gone, but with music that deserves to be preserved.

Today, I'm proud to say the Singapore Slingers are working, keeping everything flying and having a darned good time! We've got 4 shows this year so far, including one this Sunday at the Unity Church on Greenville Ave. Feel free to check out our website and see where all we'll be. If anything, I've learned that as hackneyed as it sounds, you can make your dreams come true, and that your dreams are indeed worth fighting for, regardless of how much work it may take- things do get easier, and I can honestly say that's no line!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

17 Piece Pride and Joy

Greetings and salutations, all! Today on this particularly gray afternoon, I've decided to take a minute and discuss my orchestra, the elephantine Singapore Slingers. At 17 piece, we're not exactly a combo. Nay, the orchestra is comprised of violins, violas, cello, flute, clarinet, saxophones, trumpets, trombone, piano, bass, drums, and banjo. As you probably gather, the venues we play are limited to where we'll fit! The orchestra specializes in American popular song, from 1895-1935, all pre-swing dance music... waltzes, rhumbas, one-steps, two-steps, marches, and of course, those indelible fox trots, and plenty of them. Those of you that have kept up with us know that you can easily catch our updates on Facebook, and hear our tunes on Myspace, but I figure this blogging jazz is just one more way I can spread the good word. Our next 'really big shoe' (for all you kids, that's an Ed Sullivan reference!) will be at the Unity Church here in Dallas, on Greenville and McCommas- 3425 Greenville Ave. to be exact. We'll be there, all done up and ready to go- bringing you music from many, many, MANY years ago (we plan on doing a waltz from 1893). Don't miss this great opportunity to hear great music you just can't hear anywhere else. As a side note, I'm pleased to announce that the Advocate Magazine recently ran a story about my little band- please feel free to check it out online here... Hope to see you all at the show- tickets are available at the church or on their website. See you at the show!