Will It Blend #5: Rockin’ Swing

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Beware, there are epidemics on the loose. Swing, no matter if you know swing styles of dance or not, has been known to cause involuntary body bouncin’, uncontrollable shakin’, and stylish struttin’ among listeners. Rock, meanwhile, seems to cause violent head movements, fist pumping, and concerticus jumpicus. Few genres invoke as much involuntary body movement as these two genres, so it is only natural that bands would mix them together.

Now, it should be noted that these two came from similar styles, and influenced each other in early stages of rock music. People like Elvis and Chuck Berry incorporated swing-heavy styles into their songs. It can be argued that swing also led to rockabilly music, which in turn led to neo-swing music of the late nineties. Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and similarly provocatively-named bands used different instruments from the traditional acoustic bass, drum, and brass core. Rock elements of electric guitar and synthesizers came into play, bringing a more modern feel to a traditional dance. Both swing and rock were (and possibly still are) traditionally rebellious forms of music and lifestyles, so it is almost as if they both helped each other at different times to become more modern, popular, and still rebellious.

One band that breaks heavily away from the traditional sound of swing is Diablo Swing Orchestra. Fusing metal with swing, they have a very aggressive, heavy sound that even rockers like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies don’t reach. Taking an alternate approach is Musik for the Kitchen, which instead of applying rock/metal to swing, applies swing to rock. They take mostly traditional instrumentation, plus an accordion, and then cover songs from “Seven Nation Army” to Rage Against the Machine in swing style. These are all great for dancing to, and no matter what style is influencing who, it is clear that swing and rock will blend exceptionally well.

-Kai

Blog Contributor

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One Response to “Will It Blend #5: Rockin’ Swing”

  1. John
    November 9, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Nice piece on the swing-rock connection. Enjoyed the read.

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