Hold on to your hats – cowboy hats, that is! The Arizona Senior Academy will ring in the New Year with a return of the Tucsonics Western Swing Band on Tuesday (Jan. 2), in a show starting at 11:30 a.m.
This five-piece band of Tucson all-stars got us into the swinging cowboy spirit last summer with virtuosic fiddling by Nick Coventry, fast-picking guitar licks by Matt Mitchell, note-bending slide and pedal steel guitar playing by Alvin Blaine, upright bass flair by Evan Dain, and solid rhythms by drummer Fred Hayes, along with vocal harmonies to top it off.
The Tucsonics will win you over with Western Swing classics, cowboy standards, fiddle and dance tunes, and songs of the legendary Bob Wills, Tex Williams, Spade Cooley and Merle Haggard. Don’t be surprised if a bit of jazz finds its way into the mix.
If the names Coventry, Mitchell and Dain sound familiar, that’s because their gypsy jazz band, Hot Club of Tucson, has been a long-time favorite of the Academy. Classically trained Nick Coventry has been playing gypsy jazz violin since the age of 12. Matt Mitchell’s University of Arizona degree is in classical guitar, but he plays jazz and klezmer styles too. Bassist Evan Dain’s career has spanned all genres from jazz to rock, pop, bluegrass and country western.
Alvin Blaine is a highly sought-after sideman who plays lap steel, pedal steel, slide guitar, Dobro, banjo and more. He performs locally with Heather Hardy, Peter McLaughlin, and the Scattered Grass bluegrass band, among others.
Fred Hayes is one of the busiest freelance musicians in Arizona. A drummer for the Tucson Jazz Orchestra, he performs with local and visiting national artists too numerous to mention.
Written by Leslie Nitzberg, Academy Village Volunteer