A trio of tracks from the recent Jitterbug Vipers release. Such a sweet sweet listen.
Check it out!
The Jitterbug Vipers:
Slim Richey – Guitar
Sarah Sharp – Vocals
Francie Meaux Jeaux – Bass
Masumi Jones – Drums
The Jitterbug Vipers specialize in a cult jazz offshoot called “viper music,” a screeching U-Turn back to the party where jazz music packed the dance floor and dazzled the audience with brilliant streams of improvisatory musicianship.
Steeped in the ribald wit, quaint sophistication, and graceful virtuosity of classic artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, the Jitterbug Vipers make the sound their own. “We don’t think of ourselves as a jazz band,” says bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux. “We think of ourselves as a 1930s rock band. We just wail.” Raucous and refined, toking and swinging, the Austin-based quartet draws the crowd into its heady bliss whenever and wherever it takes the stage.
Most modern takes on the 20s and 30s feel stiff and rehearsed, long shackled by nostalgia and overly reverent revivalism. But the Jitterbug Vipers’ “swingadelic” tunes are a different story, full of energy and genuine surprises.
The Jitterbug Vipers are Slim Richey, a Santa Claus-bearded jazz/swing guitar legend deemed Texas’s “Most Dangerous Guitar Player”; Francie Meaux Jeaux, a rainbow-haired bassist boisterously laying down slinky lines; Masumi Jones, one of Japan’s finest big band drummers; and the sultry chanteuse Sarah Sharp, the group’s primary songwriter.
Slim Richey is an American treasure, a living piece of history. His elegance, humor, and panache as an instrumentalist put him squarely in the pantheon of underground icons such as Danny Gatton, Roy Buchanan, and Lenny Breau. Surrounded by three supremely talented women, whom he affectionately calls the Hidy Hidy Hos, he is nonetheless the group’s clear spiritual leader.
Bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux didn’t even start playing bass until she met Slim, her husband of 25 years. “The day after Slim and I got married, I did a hit of acid and he put a big ugly ass bass in my hands. I started plunking around and was hooked immediately.” Live, she plays with her back to the audience, in a style coined “Ass to the People” by drummer Masumi Jones. That motto has become a rallying cry for the group and has even become a popular bumper sticker around Austin.
Drummer Masumi Jones, the “Tokyo Tsunami,” met Slim at a jazz jam session. In her native Japan, she grew up enamored with big band drumming and later honed her craft in America attending Berklee College Of Music. “I didn’t really realize what kind of band I was in until 3 or 4 months later, when we were at a legalize marijuana demonstration,” Masumi says giggling.
Singer Sarah Sharp, the Jitterbug Vipers’ primary songwriter, also attended Berklee. After initially joining the band as a sub, her honeyed flow and playfully naughty innuendo quickly won over fans and critics. Outside of penning tunes for the Jitterbug Vipers, Sarah works under the moniker Kaliyo with co-writer Andrea Perry. Together they craft smart indie pop, and Kaliyo has had wide-ranging success with song placements in fashion, film, and TV.
For their most recent album, Phoebe’s Dream, the Jitterbug Vipers challenged themselves to write nine modern classics evoking the rollicking spirit of the swing era’s halcyon days. The album pairs these originals with evergreens like Billie Holliday’s “Billie’s Blues” and the classic “Undecided,” popularized in 1939 by Ella Fitzgerald.
Gigging regularly, the quartet has become a festival staple, recently appearing at Kerrville Folk Festival, Old Settlers Music Festival and Utopia Fest. “Looking out at the crowd at a festival, a theater or The Continental Club, sometimes I have to remind myself this is real,” Sarah says incredulously. “It’s such a trip!”
DownBeat Magazine – The BIBLE of Jazz Since 1934
DownBeat Magazine - September 2013
Jitterbug Vipers: Phoebe’s Dream
By Michael Point
“No Musical act embodies the “Keep Austin Weird” civic mantra with more style and class than the “swingadelic” quartet Jitterbug Vipers. The band’s witty updating of classic 1930s reefer jive music, featuring septuagenarian guitar genius Slim Richey front and center, is sly, sophisticated and more than a little habit-forming. The inherent humor of the material disguises serious musicianship from not only Richey- who sparkles on the disc’s denouement, the closing “Django’s Birthday”-but also from bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux and drummer Masumi Jones. Sarah Sharp, who serves as the primary songwriter, sweetly sails through a selection of originals in the tradition with seductive nonchalance but also digs down deep for an exquisite rendition of “Billie’s Blues.””
My adorable IT husband wrote this analogy. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
IT Guy Builds a house and sells it to an end user.
Client: Hey, my house is broken.
IT: Can you be more specific.
Client: Yeah, it is broken and I will die if you don’t fix it.
IT: We can send someone out there but we need more information on the problem.
Client: I don’t know what the problem is, I didn’t do anything and it is now broken.
IT: Is this something new, or something that has always not worked as expected?
Client: This is something new. I woke up this morning and the house was broken.
IT: Is the problem in the bedroom then?
Client: It started there, but has since moved.
IT: Is the problem in the roof, walls, doors or other part of the structure?
Client: I don’t think so. Can you just come and fix it?
IT: We can, but it would help if we know the problem so we could determine its urgency?
Client: I can tell you that. It is very urgent, I will die if it is not fixed.
IT: Is there a structural problem then?
IT: If you go to another house, is that one broken too?
Client: No. it is just this house. I cannot continue with my day until this is fixed.
IT: Let’s see if we can determine which room it is happening in, where are you now?
Client: I am in the kitchen.
IT: What were you doing when you noticed the house didn’t work?
Client: I was making breakfast.
IT: And what were the symptoms you discovered?
Client: I noticed that when breakfast failed to cook that the house was broken and that I will die of hunger unless you come and fix it right away. I am very important.
IT: Your breakfast didn’t cook? Were you using the stove?
Client: Yes, do you think I am stupid?
IT: Just checking you weren’t using the microwave or some other appliance by mistake.
Client: The stove won’t get hot.
IT: So, I think we have narrowed the problem down from house is broken, to stove doesn’t work?
Client: I don’t see the difference but go on.
IT: Have you turned on the stove.
Client: I didn’t think I had to. I assumed that when I put an egg in the pan, it would know to cook it. What kind of a house did you build, that is an obvious feature to me.
IT: Can you try turning on the stove.
Client: Can’t you come here and do that for me I am busy.
IT: Let’s see if turning it on helps.
Client: IT WORKS! You are a genius, thanks for helping me.
IT: No problem, can you fill in the survey after this call so that I don’t get whipped by my superiors.
Client: (filling in the survey)… From 1 through 10, how do you rate your call? answer = 1, reason = house sucks. By anonymous.
Not that I am biased or anything.
Down Beat Magazine September, 2013 issue
Jitterbug Vipers “Phoebe’s Dream”
No Musical act embodies the “Keep Austin Weird” civic mantra with more style and class than the “swingadelic” quartet Jitterbug Vipers. The band’s witty updating of classic 1930s reefer jive music, featuring septuagenarian guitar genius Slim Richey front and center, is sly, sophisticated and more than a little habit-forming. The inherent humor of the material disguises serious musicianship from not only Richey- who sparkles on the disc’s denouement, the closing “Django’s Birthday”-but also from bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux and drummer Masumi Jones. Sarah Sharp, who serves as the primary songwriter, sweetly sails through a selection of originals in the tradition with seductive nonchalance but also digs down deep for an exquisite rendition of “Billie’s Blues.”
My son Angus, just shy of 3 years old, channeling Bill Murray, without even knowing it :)
Star wars have to save some of their friends
Now it’s time to save everybody now
Come on now, save everybody but actually
He saved some because they were good guys
But he didn’t save the bad guys
Because it was the shooting bad guys then it was the lightsaber bad guy
And the lightsaber bad guy was Darth Vader
Then Luke Skywalker and Luke Skywalker won the sword fight with bad guys
With lightsabers and Luke Skywalker turned his lightsaber on
Then that was the end
This is the album that made me want to sing Jazz. Etta sings Billie. Borrowed it from my sister in 1994. never gave it back. Haven’t listened in at least 15 years.
Pecha Kucha #17 Austin, Texas
I come in around 31:30
The night included:
Tony Diaz, Silkscreen Artist
Ryann Ford, Photographer
Dan Cheetham, Architect
Heather Courtney, Documentary Filmmaker
Jerri Kunz, Interior Design
Steve Wiman, Antique Coleector/Artist
Celest Quesada, Event Organizer
Nelson Gudi, Photojournalist
Sahara Smith, Crooner
Jitterbug Vipers photos. Photos by Nicki Gell, Todd Wolfson, Richard Jones, Laura Cox, April Miles, Mark Abernathy
From The new Jitterbug Vipers album “Phoebe’s Dream”
I wrote this with Elizabeth McQueen & She is singing harmony.
Well if you’re feeling low & you don’t know why
Having trouble just getting by
Check your pipe, is it cashed? oh my!
Now if that don’t work, you’re still feeling small
The boys don’t whistle & they never call
Don’t waste your time, honey check your bra
Girl, you need to stuff it
Oh, just stuff it, you can just stuff it,
Oh stuff it
Baby, it’s all about stickin it in
You’re looking hungry, have you been on a diet
I just a 12 course meal, you should try it
Put it all in that gate mouth, even the pie
And stuff it
Oh, just stuff it, you can just stuff it,
Oh stuff it
Baby, it’s all about stickin it in
Awww…, you’re kitty died?
You can stuff your cat
It’s your red wagon if you’re into that
I’m just trying to help, with what works for me
You can stuff it’s empty
Now you can stuff your turkey, you can stuff your pet
You can stuff your mattress, stuff your wallet
I think I’m all out of stuff to stuff
I’m just trying to help with your depression
And if that don’t work, I have one last suggestion
You can stuff it