Lushly Eclectic Oldtimey Stoner Swing – New York Music Daily
Lushly Eclectic Oldtimey Stoner Swing from the Jitterbug Vipers
A big draw in their native Texas, the Jitterbug Vipers play songs that sound like classics from the 1930s…except that they’re originals. True to their name, the band’s songs are great for dancing, and as oldtime stoner music goes, few other groups compare: theMoonlighters, or the late, great Asylum Street Spankers come to mind. These vipers have a new album out, Phoebe’s Dream, which sets Sarah Sharp’s sultry, period-perfect vocals floating over the slinky groove of bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux and nimble drummer Masumi Jones, guitar monster Slim Richey channeling a century’s worth of classic jazz and swing tradition with a deviously eclectic, bristling attack that’s all his own.
The briskly shuffling title track recounts the story of Big Phoebe, who “tried to smoke her way into heaven, but they turned her back around” – and then she takes matters (i.e. more ganja) into her own hands. A Viper Just the Same tells a familiar tale in an oldtime vernacular: a stoner can spot another stoner from a long ways away. What’s especially cool about this song is how they switch the rhythm from a bolero to straight-up swing, and then back, fueled by Richey’s unexpectedly skronky guitar solo.
Stuff It, a co-write with Elizabeth McQueen from Asleep at the Wheel, has the sardonic wit of a classic, dismissive Mae West insult song. When You’re High is an unselfconsciously pretty, aptly balmy number that could be interpreted as a love ballad…but you know better. Dangerous stakes out some Romany jazz territory, a tribute to an irrepressible guy with fast fingers and “a bag of tricks, from mushroom soup to tortoiseshell picks.”
Richey kicks off Viper Moon as a lullaby that recalls Les Paul, then they take it in a bossa nova direction – it’s another stoner love song. Sharp saves her most pillowy vocal for the ethereally bluesy ballad Trouble; they follow that with the instrumental Django’s Birthday, a showcase for Richey’s agile Romany-style fretwork.
Along with all the weed-smoking numbers, the band also includes one for the drinkers, the tongue-in-cheek stroll That Was Just the Sauce Talking. There are also a couple of covers. They reinvent the 1939 Ella Fitzgerald hit Undecided as western swing – with what sounds like a quote from the Simpsons theme? And they give Billie’s Blues an expansive Stormy Monday treatment, with some wickedly cool, boomy brushwork from Jones. The Vipers’ next hometown gig is on Jan 29 at Lambert’s, 401 W 2nd St. in Austin.
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Meaux Jeaux’s blog numero 3
Welcome to the new year, my lovelies! Hope your new year’s eve was spent exactly how you wanted to spend it!
Slim and I and the band made our annual pilgrimage to the desert in Terlingua. Saw a ton of our fans and friends down there, too. It seems to be a growing thing to make that long trip to camp at our rancho, dig the desert vibe, get renewed and ready to kick some serious ‘ass to the people’!
This year we were comped rooms at lajitas where we played most of our gigs, so we didn’t camp except the first night. The stars at night are big and bright out there. and number in the bazillions! It really is amazing how many are up there, when you get away from the big city. Even out here where slim and I live has no comparison to out there! although I didn’t receive a visit from my parents from another planet this year, I did receive the love and adventures available in this extraordinary environment.
Science experiments included melting bottles, stuffing marshmallows into bottles and melting them, watching marshmallows become scary monsters in the fire, creating a new game, specificly for musicians: “get the rock into the can”. There is video, courtesy of masumi jones, online. On our face, I think.
And then the fireworks rained down on us the last night of 2013. it was beautiful, but our 2 desert dogs were not pleased and took a powder! We called and called and called, but I’d thought they’d made it halfway to mexico by then. So we left our rancho and went back to lajitas to pack and sleep, asking the ghost boys (ghosts along the brazos) to let us know if they showed up. And what do you know? Greg called the next morning and said blossom was there, but not jesuscita; she hadn’t come back. 🙁
So slim and I went out to get blossom, and looked and looked for jesuscita. By now, it was looking like she HAD made it halfway to mexico, but slim would NOT give up (my hero!); after hiking through our canyons, he decided take the car and look for her along the roads to the rancho. And dang if she didn’t come trotting up to the car! Yeah, we were very happy campers! And so was she!!! she kept nuzzling him all the way back to the rancho! Perfect ending. Next time, we’ll keep them in the car, for sure!
There was, of course, much jammin’, and hiking through our canyons on the rancho. And much visiting with our friends and families. One night at the starlight, most of my ‘hood showed up for dinner and our music. I remarked that it was lovely to see all my neighbors, but what a bitch to drive 500 miles to do it! Ha!
So I hope all of y’all are looking forward to this year! We are! World domination continues unabated with some very exciting things happening in our world. This month has our episode of “song travels with Michael Feinstein” airing on jan.21st, we’ve been accepted by SXSW, and more to come. Will keep you posted.
And thanks for supporting live music and us, your favorite 1930’s psychoswingadelic rock band, the jitterbug vipers! And don’t forget to eat your black-eyed peas!