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THE BEST...THE BEAUTIFUL...AND THE BIZARRE | Wave Watcher
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It Don't Mean a Swing

November 15, 1998|Joe Sehee

What with neo-swing bands sporting the same zoot suits, fedoras and Louis Jordan numbers, it's getting tough to separate one group from the other. The Zoot Suit Revue, however, stands out. It's the first swing tribute ensemble to cover the covers of standards made popular by contemporary acts such as Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Hardly afraid of homogeneity, Zoot Suit actually celebrates it--at weddings, corporate gigs and even the Derby in Los Feliz, the club featured in the movie "Swingers," which no longer draws many of the top-name swing bands it helped establish a scant few years ago. Zoot Suit Revue is the brainchild of local entertainment coordinator/manager Dave Hewitt, who felt that most swing groups were taking themselves too seriously. "They're so defensive about being derivative, but how can you play music that's 50 years old while wearing zoot suits and not be derivative?" Hewitt asks. "Besides, nobody else cares that it is." The 36-year-old swingali, who started the band this past spring, lined up a song list of jump-swing chestnuts and stuck six guys who could actually play in standard-issue swinger apparel. Now this Sha-Na-Na for the '90s is gearing to go into the studio and possibly cut its first album. Still, Hewitt says they'll never forget their roots--or lack thereof: "This scene is about fun, not about originality. We're just going to keep giving the people what they want."

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