The beat goes only because it transcends generations. It's instinctual. We're just built to swing, that's all. This is not lost on Des Moines, Iowa's Spicy Pickles. The Pickles know their musical history and they know their Swing Dance routines. They possess both natural and acquired musical tastes that compel them to push forward by reaching back to an old sound. Prewar Blues, Big Band, Swing and Jazz, it's all preserved in the tasty brine The Spicy Pickles bring when they set their musical table.
The Spicy Pickles are led by trumpet player, Joe Smith, who started the band in January of 2013 to give dancers something to swing to. They're much more than a dance band, The Pickles are preservationists who are helping keep the spirit of a uniquely American form of music alive. The quintet play a mix of cover tunes of Traditional New Orleans Jazz, Gutbucket Blues and Swing. Smith has been playing music since he was ten years old. He spent his summers marching in drum and bugle corps. At the University of Iowa, Smith helped run the Hawkeye Swing Festival where his interest in vintage Jazz and dance music grew into a passion. Guitarist, William Hatchet has been surrounding himself with jazz music since he was a teenager in Chicago, IL. Hatchet was also an attendee of summer music camps and was mentored by Jazz guitarist, Bobby Broom, as a part of the Ravinia Jazz Mentors program. Larry Mullica, the Man of Mystery, plays bass and tenor guitar. New Pickles in the jar include Kyle Einck on drums and Brian Hutzell on trombone and bass. All the members, save for Einck, share vocal duties. They all are swing dancers.
The band draws influence from legends of American Jazz like Count Basie and Louis Armstrong, as well as the vocal stylings of Slim and Slam and contemporary Jazz acts like Two Man Gentleman Band, Glenn Crytzer and Solomon Douglas. In their very young career as a band, The Pickles have opened for the New Orleans brass band, Dirty Bourbon River Show, and for singer/songwriter, Mason Reed. They recently performed at the Hawkeye Swing Festival which is attended by hundreds of dancers and is hosted by the University of Iowa Swing Dance Club in Iowa City, IA.
In 2013, The Spicy Pickles recorded their self-titled debut at Sound Farm Studio & Recording Environment with engineer, Ryan Thomas Martin. The Spicy Pickles contains 12 covers of old and new Jazz classics. Says Smith about the selections; "The entire thought process was to create an album with new renditions for dancers. We want to provide more music for the Lindy Hop and Blues community." Smith also was interested in "providing a variety of feels using different textures."
The Spicy Pickles CD is available through iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon and the band's website, www.TheSpicyPickles.com. The band continues to gig around the country and hopes to sign on with The National Association of Campus Activities to bring their old school sound to new and younger audiences. Look for them to swing through your state soon.