Local swing band Speakeasy 3 has played private parties, local clubs (where mostly young people come dressed up to dance) and even retirement homes—where guitarist Scott Stobbe says audience members often mouth the lyrics to the songs from the ’20s and ’30s.
“They were pop hits back then,” he says.
The group started in 2014 as a trio—hence the name—with Stobbe on guitar/banjo, Stella D’Oro on vocals and Tennessee O’Hanlon on the clarinet. Today, the group will play shows with anywhere from three to six members, depending on the space the band is playing. The current lineup includes Stobbe on guitar, D’Oro on vocals, Olaff Schiappacasse on drums, Jamie Brudick on bass, John Hensley on trumpet, and Brad Hecht on sax.
“I’ve been playing this type of music in different bands for a long time. I’ve always had a love for it,” Stobbe says. “It’s very happy, danceable music. But at the same time, interesting music. It’s not boring to play.”
Besides their covers from the classic swing era, they also have some originals in the same vein. Stobbe, who’s made many musician friends in New Orleans, discovers obscure gems whenever he visits there, and then digs up the sheet music for the band to play. It really doesn’t matter how well-known the music is. As Stobbe has seen, there’s something about swing that draws in nearly any crowd—whether they know the songs or not.
“It is pretty accessible dance music that can fit in a lot of situations and venues pretty easily,” he says.
INFO: 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $5. 427-2227