A unique style of music was brought to the Townhouse Conference Room on Wednesday night when the Swing Caravan stopped by to perform. The Swing Caravan added a modern twist to a mix of jazz and blues songs, all of which they make their very own.
The Swing Caravan is made up of a quartet of musicians. Matthew Ruby Shippee is the guitarist and vocalist, Julia Kay is the bassist, Dave Nelson is on the drums, and Geoff Cunningham plays the trumpet.
The group’s first song was an American swing song from the 1930’s with updated lyrics. Shippee explained how the 1930’s were a fun era for music and culture, which was why they chose to play the song.
They continued on to sing a gypsy jazz classic called Vipers Dream. This song was very upbeat, and the group seemed to have a lot of fun performing it, dancing and laughing. Shippee went on to say how it could translate into a “stoner’s dream” because it was a song for young people combining blues and jazz.
The Swing Caravan also played a song by Django Reinhardt. Shippee described Django to the audience a musician who was not really a part of organized life, but who was both untrained and illiterate. Django, Shippee said, actually couldn’t sign his name on contracts for a while. He would book a gig and forget about it, or get paid for it and then gamble all of his money away without paying the band. He spent most of his career in Paris as a gypsy and lived in a hotel with his monkey.
“Django was releasing a record during World War II, and there was this one song, Nuages which translates [from French] as ‘clouds,’” said Shippe, prior to play the song. “It was a hit in that era in Paris.”
They played a couple songs from their latest album, including A Lion, A Tiger, A Bear, which was very upbeat. The last song they played was called Dark Eyes, off their last album, that was a gypsy jazz song with a New Orleans rhythm that was a lot of fun to listen and dance to.