The future is always uncertain, no matter who occupies the Oval Office. As far as dealing with the here and now, Eight O’Five Jive singer Lee Shropshire believes the retro-flavored music her band makes can help with providing an escape.
“We still have racial divides, sexual and class inequality, and we are now facing many challenges never considered during the jump-swing era of the 1940s and ’50s,” she says. “It’s important to continue to create and uplift, while adding a dose of humor to help relieve the stress of dealing with all of this.”
Formed in 2011, Eight O’Five Jive is based in Nashville, Tennessee. The quintet is not the only swing band in the country music-dominated city, and the way Shropshire sees it, her group makes a concerted effort to differentiate itself.
“[While others] have focused on the music of the ’20s and early ’30s,” Shropshire explains, “we lean toward the late ’40s and ’50s, which brings a bit more of an edge to it. We try to write or select songs that might be a little overt, as far as social norms go, but also have an element of humor attached. We strive to put on a good show while dressing sharp, and not let the audience catch too much of a breath. We like to keep our crowd moving.”
That’s the goal with Swing Set, the second Eight O’Five Jive album, due Jan. 27. The band started recording the collection’s 11 songs about a year ago and finished in summer 2016. While Too Many Men (released in 2014) leaned heavy on outside material, Swing Set features only one cover, a rendition of Rudy Green’s “My Mumblin’ Baby,” a 1956 single on the Excello label.
“We definitely wanted the [original] songs to be fun, sly, ‘seriously’ humorous, but with a ‘catch my drift’ attitude about them,” says Shropshire. “We like our drinking songs, so of course, that theme was in the mix. Songs like ‘Never,’ ‘Back of My Hand,’ and ‘Watch Out for Their Wives’ all have an independent-woman essence about them, but they also come with a bit of a wink.”
— By Chris M. Junior
Eight O’Five Jive on tour (schedule subject to change):
• Jan. 20: Grimey’s Records — Nashville, Tennessee
• Jan. 27: Acme Feed & Seed — Nashville
• Feb. 1: International Blues Challenge — Memphis, Tennessee
• Feb. 2 (11:30 a.m.): Alfred’s on Beale — Memphis
• Feb. 2-3: International Blues Challege — Memphis
• Feb. 3-4: Hard Rock Café — Memphis
• Feb. 10: The Family Wash — Nashville
• Feb. 17: National Dance Club of Murfreesboro — Mufreesboro, Tennessee
• Feb. 19: Acme Feed & Seed — Nashville
• Feb. 24: National Dance Clubs of Brentwood — Nashville
• Feb. 26: Daniel Day Art Gallery — Birmingham, Alabama
Photo by Bill Steber