Lancashireís premier western swing band The Swing Commanders
return to Texas in June 2011. In 2008 they garnered glowing praise
from the many enthusiastic music fans who came out to see them on
their ten day Texas tour.
For several years The Swing Commanders have been one of
the top attractions on the British Rock-n-Roll and Country music
playing venues from the small local club to the most prestigious
music festivals such as Notts. Americana while drawing rave
reviews along the way.
The Swing Commanders evolved from the highly popular Winchesters
band which had a huge following in the North West of England.
After several band members decided to pursue other musical highways,
frontman Peter Riley formed The Swing Commanders to the delight
of their former fan base.
The current line-up has brought the band to a high level of
Swing music with close three-part harmonies from the female band
members, performing in a style very much as the Andrews Sisters
did in the 1940ís.
A quiet unassuming man off stage, Peter Riley bursts into to
life the moment he hits the microphone. Founder member of the
band, he plays his unique rhythm guitar in his own individual
style, interwoven with a more traditional double bass, but is best
remembered for his superb voice and magnetic stage presence. An
aficionado of Western Swing, he has now emerged as one of the most
charismatic front-men on the British Country and Swing scenes.
The girl with the wild hair is former classical violin
soloist, Gaynor Sutcliffe. She is founder of the Sutcliffe String
Quartet, electric jazz duo, Sparx and the Laverne Sisters, using
her wide range of musical experience and expertise to bring her
own unique slant to the bandís Latin, swing and country styles.
Her powerful vocal harmonies, piano accordion solos, keyboard
backings and double bass extravaganzas have helped the band to add
a fuller sound and dynamic impact to their live performances.
New girl on the block, enhancing the glamorous image of
the band, is a classically trained violinist from Manchester,
Rosy Williams. Having trained as an actor-musician at Rose Bruford,
she completed her training on violin at the Royal Northern College
of Music. After three years of working with street children
in Africa on music and drama projects, she has returned to the
UK and has already been in great demand in the Arts world, having
been a member of a variety of orchestras, sung regularly on
BBC Radio 4 and toured in 15 countries.
New member with Rosy in the band is fellow Mancunian, Siena
her reputation as the 'Blonde Bombshell' is nothing to do with
hair colour but her leading role in the musical 'Blonde Bombshells',
by Alan Plater, based loosely on the adventures of the 1940s
Ivy Benson band, which enjoyed a successful British theatre
tour in 2008. Indeed, Siena has extensive acting experience
stretching from Hollyoaks to Shakespeare, from London to New
York, in films, television and theatres across Britain. However,
as a skilled musician it is her musical expertise that she now
brings to the band. An experienced solo singer, she has also
performed regularly on piano, keyboard, double bass, clarinet
and tenor saxophone so yet another multi-instrumentalist brings
more variety to the band's ever-widening array of sounds.
Simon Brady has a long pedigree in British county music
and bluegrass, along with being a 'Champion' mandolin player.
Iíve personally known Simon for many years and first saw him
as a young lad playing bluegrass with his dad and sister. Several
times Simon took first place in the mandolin competition section
at Britainís prestigious Edale Bluegrass Festival, Derbyshire.
Honing his talents with several British country bands and a
former member of the highly successful duo, 'Broadcaster', Simon
Brady is an outstanding guitarist. Not only acknowledged as
the best mandolin player on the British Country scene, he has
emerged as no mean hand on Hawaiian steel! In his role as vocalist
and lead guitarist with the Swing Commanders he is already proving
that he has also few equals as a soloist in the wide range of
musical genres that now forms the revised playlist of the band.
Completing the line-up is another outstanding Lancastrian
on percussion - and cowbells - 'Doctor' Mark Warburton. An experienced
session drummer, he has recorded with jazz and swing ensembles
both here and in Europe and has now added his own expertise
to the band's live performances.
The Swing Commanders extensive tour of Texas has once again
been planned by their D.J. friend, GI-Jive (Ian Hartley) who
has worked tirelessly helping to put it all together. The tour
kicks off at the Lockheed Club, Fort Worth on 17th June and
the following day they play the prestigious Legends of Western
Swing Festival at the MPEC Center in Wichita Falls, which I
highly recommend and have attended on several occasions. Three
years ago The Swing Commanders wowed the crowds and made history
by being the first British western swing band to be invited
by Gloria Miers to play with the cream of Texas western
swing bands. My wife Marlene and I will be there again as we
first attended the Legends festival 10 years ago where we started
Monday morning (20th) they return to the TV news and
magazine show Great Day San Antonio on "KENS 5" (a CBS television
affiliate) where they made a great impact on viewers three years
ago when Ian and his wife Sheilagh also performed some of their
sensational 40ís dance moves. During the same evening the band can
be found playing at Samís Burger Bar, San Antonio.
Tuesday 21st June sees the band on a return performance at
the oldest continually running dancehall in Texas, the legendary
Gruene Hall, built in 1878 they open for Two Tons of Steele. Just
a handful of the artists that have played Gruene Hall are George
Strait & Ace in the Hole, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely,
Robert Earl Keen, Hal Ketchum, Bruce and Charlie Robison.
The following day (22nd) the band will be Bandera at 11th
Street Cowboy Bar. Thursday 23 June Ė Scoot Inn Austin, Friday 24
June Ė Radio Koop Austin as well as seeing The Swing Commanders at
Austinís granddaddy of music venues, The Continental Club. The
last date is Saturday 25th June at the Swiss Alp Dancehall,
More gigs may be added, but already The Swing Commanders are
relishing the exhausting ten-date tour and once again will receive
a hearty Texas welcome. Do not miss this sensational western
swing band direct form the North of England!!!
Graham Lees April 2011
Check the bands video