Swingers Hour – Saturday Afternoon

This is one of the most loved sessions of the entire weekend at Southport. It’s a chance for everyone to get dressed up in ’40s and ’50s gear. As usual there were plenty of girls in swirly Rock ‘n’ Roll style dresses, looking absolutely fabulous. There were guys in American WWII Uniforms and I was dressed in my full Teddy Boy outfit including my Blue Crepe Shoes.

Chris Uren – The Best Swinger in Town

As far back as I can remember, Chris has always done one of the Swingers Hours over The Southport Weekend. This year he was spinning the tracks for the Saturday afternoon session, and as always he provided the dancers with some fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll and Swing music to dance to. Here we go then with some of his great selections.

A Rock ‘n’ Roll Track from before Rock ‘n’ Roll was invented

Chris Kicked off his set with a perfect track. Perfect because it had the bouncy rhythm of a great Rock ‘n’ Roll track, but it was slow enough to modern jive to comfortably. Why don’t you eat where you slept last night by Zuzu Bolin is interesting in many ways, as its marks the transition between Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The track has the 12 Bar Blues pattern we associate with Rock ‘n’ Roll, but the trumpet intro sounds like something from a ’40s Swing Band. Remarkably it was recorded in 1952 a good two years before Elvis broke through, and four years before Bill Hayley’s classic Rock around the clock.

Chris ups the tempo with Billy Boy Arnold

Billy Boy Arnold’s 2001 recording of Let’s work it out is one of the best tracks I’ve ever Rock ‘n’ Rolled to. It has everything – the bouncy walking bass, classic bluesy guitar work, and a piano solo that almost blew me off my feet. Sadly, in my view, tracks like this are just too fast for modern jive. Several years ago I realised that I had to learn to Rock ‘n’ Roll, if I was going to really enjoy dancing to tracks like this beast of a record. The Rock ‘n’ Roll footwork somehow halves the beat and makes it so enjoyable to dance too.

The Place is Absolutely Rockin’

Whether people were Modern Jiving or Rock ‘n’ Rolling is not really important. What was obvious was that everybody was loving it and why not. The three areas of The Boudoir were packed and the atmosphere was electric. This was people having a load of fun on the dance floor. This was Southport at its best – the reason we all look forward to it so much. Thanks to Wayne for capturing the atmosphere with this fabulous piece of video.

A Tribute to The Great Big Joe Turner

Big Joe Turner is probably the Daddy of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but sadly got little recognition. One of the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll tracks ever made is Shake Rattle and Roll. Most people associate it with Bill Hayley and The Comets, but Big Joe Turner recorded it first. Both were recorded in 1954 and I’m pleased it’s Turner’s version that gets played at modern jive freestyles.

Chris treated us to three of Big Joe Turners other cracking tracks – The chicken and the hawk, Honey rush and the track I’ve chosen to feature Feeling happy. When you know that Feeling happy was originally a 1950 B-Side, it makes you realise just how prolific Big Joe was. Turner was also the first to record Flip Flop and Fly, later featured in the Blues Brother’ Film, and Lipstick Powder and Paint covered by Shakin’ Stevens in the ’80s.

Time to Swing and Boogie

Here’s a track from Chris’ playlist that’s pure Swing. Choo choo ch’boogie was recorded by Louis Jordan in 1946 and you can hear the influence of The Glen Miller Band all the way through. The pace is a little too fast for modern jive, but perfect for Swing.  Rock ‘n’ Roll footwork was basically modified from Swing Dance, so if you can Rock ‘n’ Roll you can easily dance to tracks like this – but hey, no one’s going to stop you modern jiving.

How ever you dance to this you are going to have a smile on your face – and I did! I loved the piano and sax solos – in fact I loved the whole thing. No wonder Swing was so popular in the ’40s.

Time to Slow it a down

After all that energy swinging to Louis, I was pleased that Chris slowed it down with Fats Domino’s Ain’t that a shame. By comparison the pace of this classic track is a lot gentler, but it still has a lovely bouncy feel, and is perfect to modern jive to. Great choice Chris.

Chris finds Rockin’ tracks in The Country & Western Vaults

You can always rely on Chris finding something a little different, and he found a couple of gems in the Country & Western music vaults. The first was Juke joint jumping from Wayne Hancock with its wonderful steel guitar work.

The second starts with the lyric ‘Some people like to rock, some people like to roll, movin’ and a groovin’, gonna satisfy my soul.’ That’s my kind of lyric and this is my kind of Rock ‘n’ Roll track. Let’s have a party by Wanda Jackson from 1959 is a great big wallop of Country & Western fun. I loved it – the whole room loved it.

Something from the last decade to finish of a great set

Si Cranston is a contemporary singer who really captures the spirit of both Rock ‘n’ Roll and Swing. Hi Coupe de villa from 2014 is one hell of a track. It was one of the best tracks of the afternoon, and Chris saved it to close his fantastic set. Watch the video and see the clips of Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll dancing. I don’t think I’m going over the top when I say they capture the fun we all had on Saturday afternoon.

The best bit – we could do it all over again on Sunday

An hour of this great music is just not enough. No problem – we could do it all again on the Sunday at the same time – and we did!