About

Neon Swing X-perience

Neon Swing X-perience

“Retro inspired horn infused party music”

 

 

Neon Swing X-perience (NSX), based in Pittsburgh, has been described as the “only band bold enough to jump, jive, and rock” and “swing with sting.”  The purpose of NSX is simple: to get people from all walks of life to come together and have a good time!  Over the past 20 years, the band has done just that by performing hundreds of shows throughout the US and releasing seven recordings.  2018 will mark the release of their eighth album. 

 

Formed in 1998 by Mike Urick and a rag-tag group of musicians, NSX has been relentlessly devoted to updating and preserving vintage American genres such as swing, hot jazz, blues, rockabilly, and horn rock.  NSX’s style is a raucous modernization of multiple influences all rooted in the big bands of the 1930s and 1940s.  The songs on the band’s new album represent a mix of originals and covers (both well-known and obscure) that seamlessly blend the group’s musical inspirations.  In addition to Urick (on lead vocals, trumpet, and noseflute), the current line-up features Wally Hunter (sax, clarinet, trumpet), Joe Palacki (drums, percussion), Steve Tomkowitz (sax, lead vocals), Dave Frye (guitar), Chris Dufalla (trombone, lead vocals), Carmen Marotta (piano, keys, lead vocals), and Ken Reeser and Randy Miller (splitting bass duties). 

 

Every NSX performance is an explosive retro party guaranteed to fill you with the irresistible urge to get up and dance.  In addition to a monthly residency at Pittsburgh’s NOLA on the Square jazz venue, the group has performed at many notable venues and events including at Central Park in New York City, the legendary Derby in Hollywood, and the world’s biggest rockabilly festival (Viva Las Vegas).  The band has opened for such renowned acts as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Reverend Horton Heat, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Hot Club of Cowtown, and the Max Weinberg Big Band as well as performed at events with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Jive Aces, and Eddie Money among others.  In 2017, Neon Swing X-perience was named a top jazz/blues performer for the second time in the “Best of Pittsburgh” City Paper Reader’s Poll. 

 

For more information, check out www.neonswing.net, www.facebook.com/neonswing, or twitter.com/neonswing.  

 

About the band

 

  • Style: retro-inspired horn-infused party music; raucous modernization of multiple influences all rooted in the big bands of the 1930s and 1940s 
  • Tag lines: “The only band bold enough to jump, jive, and rock” and “Swing with sting.”
  • Based in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Purpose of NSX: to get people from all walks of life to come together and have a good time 
  • Relentlessly devoted to updating and preserving vintage American genres such as swing, hot jazz, blues, rockabilly, and horn rock 
  • Voted a top Jazz/Blues Band/Performer in the “Best Of…” poll by readers of the Pittsburgh City Paper in October 2017
  • Formed in 1998 by Mike Urick and a rag-tag group of musicians (mostly friends from high school who were in “pep band” together)
  • April 13 – proclaimed “Neon Swing X-perience Day” in 2018 by the City of Pittsburgh Office of Mayor Bill Peduto to celebrate the band’s 20th Anniversary and album release
  • Although having won awards as a jazz band, the band also placed in rock challenges and has been played on rock radio stations – as such, NSX considers itself a jazz-rock crossover group that appeals to a wide range of audiences
  • Discography:
    • We’ve Only Just Begun (2018)
    • Grandpa Tempo: The Chairman of Swing (2012)
    • Here to Stay (2008)
    • Late to the Party (2005)
    • No Turning Back (2004)
    • It Happens Every Day (2002)
    • The Eclectic Mob (2000)
    • The Swingin’est Show on Earth (1999) 
    • Performed in over a dozen US states/territories
  • Select venues performed at:
    • Central Park Band Shell (New York City) – played as part of our 10th Anniversary Tour – same stage that Duke Ellington and several other of the major big bands played on during their heyday
    • The Derby (Hollywood) – historic venue – made famous again in the 90s by the movie “Swingers” – was the original home base of popular 90s-era swing bands Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Royal Crown Revue – venue closed a year after NSX’s performance
    • Viva Las Vegas (Las Vegas) – largest rockabilly festival in the world – headliner the year NSX performed was the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis
    • Rehoboth Beach Bandstand (DE) – NSX has performed here many times over the past 20 years, often during their Sea Witch Halloween Festival in late October – during the festival, NSX not only performs on the bandstand but also regularly does a marching performance to lead the costumed dog parade down the boardwalk
    • Various swing dances – notable ones include Swingin’ on Short St. (Lexington KY) where the city blocks off an entire block for a vintage swing dance, Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom (Glen Echo MD) in an historic vintage-styled ballroom within a repurposed amusement park, and Friday Night Swing Dance Club (Towson MD) in an American Legion frequented by an eclectic group of dancers
    • Various venues in and around Ocean City MD are frequented on the band’s east coast tours
    • NOLA on the Square – NSX’s home base in Pittsburgh PA – the band performs there every month as a five piece group (usually the first Saturday of the month)
    • Hard Rock Café Pittsburgh – NSX has performed here many times over twenty years and are thrilled to be back for the 20th Anniversary/CD Release Show on April 13
  • Current members include
    • Mike Urick (lead vocals, trumpet, and noseflute) – member since 1998 (20 years total)
    • Walter Hunter (sax, clarinet, trumpet) – member since 2001 (17 years total)
    • Joe Palacki (drums, percussion) – member since 2002 (16 years total)
    • Steve Tomkowitz (sax, lead vocals) – originally joined 2001, rejoined and member since 2004 (15 years total)
    • Dave Frye (guitar) – sat in with the band since 2002, full-time member since 2014 (4 years total)
    • Chris Dufalla (trombone, lead vocals) – member since 2014 (4 years total)
    • Carmen Marotta (piano, keys, lead vocals) – originally joined 2001-2006, rejoined and member since 2016 (7 years total)
    • Ken Reeser (bass) – member since 2017 (1 year total)
    • Randy Miller (bass) – member since 2017 (1 year total)
    • 85 years experience playing in NSX (see totals above)
    • NSX performs anywhere between a 4-8 piece band 
  • Other performers opened for/performed with/appeared at same event as include:
    • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
    • Preservation Hall Jazz Band
    • Glenn Miller Orchestra
    • Jerry Lee Lewis
    • B-52s
    • Jive Aces
    • Max Weinberg (of Bruce Springsteen and Conan O’Brien fame)
    • Reverend Horton Heat
    • Hot Club of Cowtown,
    • Eddie Money
    • Flatfoot 56
    • The Toasters
    • The Pietasters
    • Rusted Root

 

 

About the album

 

  • Title: “We’ve Only Just Begun” taken from the lyrics of “Only You” (track 10 by Carmen Marotta and Walter Hunter) – represents that, even though NSX has performed hundreds of shows over the past 20 years, the band does not intend to slow down and hopes to continue on with their mission of bringing people together
  • “We’ve Only Just Begun” is the 8th publicly released album/recording from Neon Swing X-perience
  • Album produced by Mike Urick
  • The songs on the band’s new album represent a mix of originals and covers (both well-known and obscure) that seamlessly blend the group’s musical inspirations
  • For the 10th Anniversary Album (“Here To Stay”), Neon Swing X-perience recorded a group of songs most meaningful to and prominent in the band’s performance, almost as a  “best of” – this was not the approach of this 20th Anniversary Album which is recorded as a snapshot of where the band is after 20 years
  • Though this album does have cover songs on it, it is much more “original-focused” than the band’s previous two releases (“Grandpa Tempo: The Chairman of Swing” and “Here To Stay”)
  • Ambience: in a small seaside town many decades ago, someone sits in a boardwalk café listening to their favorite hot jazz on the radio while typing a news story as a New Orleans-inspired second line parade marches by outside
  • The characters in the parade on the front cover all represent characters from the band’s history and/or songs (there are eight in total which is the number of performers at many of NSX’s larger venue shows):
    • Big Bad Wolf (trumpet) is referenced in many of the band’s songs and the tune “Big Bad Wolf” appears on two previous albums – the song is a staple of the band’s live repertoire and is one of their most popular/requested original songs
    • Grandpa Seymour Tempo (trombone) is the main protagonist of the band’s 2012 concept album “Grandpa Tempo: The Chairman of Swing”
    • Arthur Lemonhead (snare drum) originally appeared on the cover of 2000’s “The Eclectic Mob” – that album also had a song about the Lemonhead character – the character started as an inside joke by members of the band who worked in a lemonade booth for a community festival every year during high school
    • Tiger (saxophone) – represents the Tiger in “Tiger Rag” (track 1) and is also a reference to “I Wanna Be Like You” (track 5) since this song was originally from Disney’s “The Jungle Book”
    • Ghost (cymbals) – one of NSX’s earliest original songs recorded was called “Ghost at the Swingers’ Club” and it appeared on 1999’s “The Swingin’est Show On Earth” – NSX re-recorded it on this album as a throwback and renamed it “Ghost at NOLA” to further define the club in which the ghost haunted
    • Topiary Llama (cowbell) – according the song “Arthur” on 2000’s “The Eclectic Mob,” this llama was a best friend of Arthur Lemonhead
    • Lumberjack (accordion) – the band recorded a mariachi-inspired instrumental song about a lumberjack on both their 1999 and 2000 albums
    • Slappy the Clown (cymbals) – one of the band’s cult favorite songs from the 1999 album “The Swingin’est Show On Earth” was called “Sinister Side Show” and it was about this clown – unfortunately, the song did not always go over well with live audiences so it was no longer performed live after 2001
    • The front cover is a throwback to the 1999 front cover of “The Swingin’est Show On Earth” which also featured many of the same characters – the 2018 updated cover for “We’ve Only Just Begun” incorporates several venues that the band has performed at including The Purple Fiddle in Thomas WV, the boardwalk in Rehoboth DE, and NOLA on the Square in Pittsburgh
    • The back cover has several inside jokes of the band – for example, the band has performed regularly at the Banana Split Festival in Latrobe PA and some favorite foods of previous band members include chili with cheese and buns/rolls (all depicted on the table beneath the track listing)
    • The pictures on the inside were taken by a variety of individuals and represent the band during shows and recording as well as candidly behind-the-scenes
    • The album’s artwork was primarily done by Cincinnati-based artist/illustrator (and friend of the band) Dave Metzger
    • Most of the tracks were recorded, mixed, and mastered by Ray Calfo at Studiophonix in Mount Pleasant PA – two were recorded and mixed live at WDVE Pittsburgh Studios by Jeff Paul – others were recorded live and mixed by Steve Tomkowitz
    • The album was released on April 13th at the Hard Rock Café Pittsburgh – the album is available at live shows, CD Baby, Amazon, and most streaming sites
Best of Pittsburgh 2017

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