Join the Swing Set

Just for Kids

April 29, 1999|By Lou Carlozo | Lou Carlozo,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

The music and dancing of the pre-rock era are back in full swing! That's right, swing is in, with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, The W's and Squirrel Nut Zippers reviving a sound that was hot in the 1940s and '50s.

At last month's Grammy Awards, two of Setzer's songs won awards ("Jump, Jive an 'Wail" captured Best Bop Performance by a Duo or Group, and "Sleepwalk" won Best Pop Instrumental). Clubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco began featuring swing in the late 1980s. The 1996 movie "Swingers" also helped fuel the comeback. So did the Gap khakis TV ad that features a 1930s dance, the Lindy Hop (named after flying ace Charles Lindbergh).

Today's Swing revival is often called "neo-swing." It's happy music for people weary of grunge and gangsta rap.

"Perhaps kids are sick of feeling bad about themselves," said Tom Maxwell of the Zippers. "The message of a lot of music is 'I'm stupid, I'm worthless."

Kal Rudman, editor of the radio magazine Friday Morning Quarterback, is a swing fan. "When you hear the Squirrel Nut Zippers on the air, it grabs you by the collar, makes you holler."

Swing dates to the 1940s. Before TV, audiences listened to swing on the radio and in movies. Band leaders Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey were swing-era stars.

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