Swing and you’re winning . . .
26th January 2019
Who’s up for seeing Down For The Count at Trinity on February 2? Eileen Leahy discovers more about this swing, jazz and rock and roll combo from its director Mike Paul-Smith
So Mike, please can you tell us a small bit about Down for the Count?
We’re a 10-piece swing orchestra and are based in London – although we travel all over the country and abroad too. We started in 2005 and now perform at over 100 events each year: from theatres and jazz clubs, to wedding receptions, festivals and private parties.
How did you come to be appointed its musical director?
I started the band in my last year of school, back in 2005. The band actually grew out of the pit band from a pantomime in a village near my home town of Aylesbury so there’s always been a streak of the theatrical about us!
Do you perform a variety of styles of music or is it one specific genre?
We perform all sorts of different styles. Our first love is vintage swing and big band music, and that’s what we’ll be performing at Trinity Theatre on February 2. However we’re all classically trained musicians, and also perform other genres at certain events such as soul, pop, Motown and disco. We love to mix it up and try new things – although at Trinity Theatre we will very much be all about the swing music as we’ll be performing the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
What else can we expect of your evening at Trinity Theatre?
We’re not a tribute act, so we won’t be trying to imitate them. Our aim instead is to bring their music back to life by performing some of their most popular songs. You’ll hear our versions of some of their famous duets such as Dream a Little Dream of Me and They Can’t Take That Away From Me, along with some of their solo hits including Cheek to Cheek, Hello Dolly and Mack the Knife.
Have you played at Trinity before? And if so, what do you like about this particular venue?
This is the first time we’re performing there, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! We went to see a production at the theatre recently and it’s such a small, intimate space which makes it the perfect place for a concert like this. The audience is really close to the stage and that helps them feel like they’re really part of the action. There aren’t too many venues where you can get so close to great live music and we think that is particularly exciting about a performance at Trinity.
Is there anything that makes your ensemble different to all the others out there?
One thing that everyone comments on is how exciting and dynamic our performance is. We’re genuinely really good friends off-stage as well as on, and audience members keep telling us how much that bond really comes across in our performance. We think vintage music is really exciting and we try and make sure our performance is fresh, lively and uplifting.
What is your personal favourite music and why?
My favourite artists are Duke Ellington, Stevie Wonder, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. Stevie Wonder and Duke Ellington both forged new paths in music, taking it to places it hadn’t been before; and as for Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, they were just wonderful performers who I never get tired of listening to.
What are your plans for the rest of 2019?
We’ve got a really busy year planned with loads of shows at jazz clubs and vintage dances and festivals in the summer. In the next few months we’ll be heading into the studio to record a new album, and we hope to tour that later in the autumn. That’s all on top of performing at loads of weddings and private events, so it’s going to be a very busy year!
Down For The Count perform at Trinity Theatre on February 2 at 8pm. To book tickets which cost £20, visit trinitytheatre.net