Friday, August 03, 2012
Rock around the dock
Bedford's Sway Katz brings its smorgasbord of sound to SML on Aug. 11.
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The name may evoke memories of Tommy Dorsey or Benny Goodman, but Sway Katz of Bedford isn't limited to big band sounds of the 1940s.
Founded in 2006, the Sway Katz is a 20-member musical ensemble specializing in an aural kaleidoscope of Latin, swing, jazz and funk.
"There's a lot of tonal and rhythmic colors that you get in a big band that you can't get with a smaller ensemble," said musical director Scott Walter.
The band performs at venues ranging from weddings and jazz festivals to other special events.
"We'll play any venue, we'll make a show," Walter said.
Music is chosen depending on the gig.
"We have about 200 pieces of music to choose from, and there's always something. We choose something that we think is really fun and exciting," he said.
The players' backgrounds are as diverse as the band's musical compositions, with some members teaching music in schools while others have honed their craft for many years. All have a love for sharing their talent, Walter said. In addition to attending performances and rehearsals, the majority of players work outside jobs to support themselves, as monies taken in by ticket sales are primarily recycled back into the program to purchase music and equipment.
"The Sway Katz is a 'lab band,'" said Don Hershey of Huddleston. "The musicians are there to master challenging music instead of making money."
As many venues have reverted to recorded music to entertain guests, Walter said compensation comes not in monetary gain but through the development of an art that is becoming increasingly difficult to find.
"There's no place else to do what we do," said vocalist Kim Pitts, one of the band's founders.
Pitts said a memorable performance was playing for the Music for Americans Independance Day celebration in Roanoke. The band performed "God Bless the USA" in the presence of members of the armed services.
"To see them stand when we did that song, it still makes me teary," she said.
The Sway Katz is scheduled to perform its summer concert at the Trinity Ecumenical Parish on Aug. 11. Audience members can expect a performance with "very engaging dance music that will cause people to get up out of their chair," said Hershey, an organizer of the event.
"The music is fun, and the band is fun," Walter said. "We're in it to enjoy ourselves."
Tickets are $10.
For more information about the concert, firstname.lastname@example.org.