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Ricki Derek Swings His Way


by Stephen Becker 26 Jan 2009

Saturday night I braved the freezing temps for my first trip to Scat Jazz Lounge in downtown Fort Worth. The reason: Ricki Derek‘s CD release party. The verdict: Totally worth it. I’ve seen Ricki put his spin on the American songbook dozens of times at his standing Sunday night show at The Cavern on Greenville […]

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Saturday night I braved the freezing temps for my first trip to Scat Jazz Lounge in downtown Fort Worth. The reason: Ricki Derek‘s CD release party.

The verdict: Totally worth it.

I’ve seen Ricki put his spin on the American songbook dozens of times at his standing Sunday night show at The Cavern on Greenville Avenue. But I’d never seen him backed by a live band. It goes without saying that the experience is always going to be richer when the CD player is replaced by 16 live musicians.

The feeling that stuck with me most from Saturday night, though, is what an incredible interpreter of songs he is. The new album includes plenty of the swinging, big band staples he’s associated with – “Night and Day,” “When You’re Smiling,” “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

But would you expect The Cure’s “Why Can’t I Be You?” Or how about “I Melt With You” by Modern English? And surely not the Duran Duran hit “Rio.” (As Derek joked with the crowd, “Watch out for the upcoming all Flock of Seagulls album.”) Yet all those songs made it onto the album after undergoing the same type of swing transformation that Paul Anka put on “Black Hole Sun” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for his Rock Swings album in 2005. Much of the credit for the reinvention of those 1980s hits should go to David Pierce, who arranged the music for the album and plays trombone in Derek’s band.

North Texas has its share of cover and tribute bands, and oftentimes the goal of those bands is to replicate a song as the audience is used to hearing it. No complaint here – most of the time that’s what the audience came to hear.

But it’s also nice a well-worn tune is given a fresh look. Even the classics can afford to have some new life breathed into them on occasion.

You can listen to clips of each song here.

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  • There is not a negative word here. This is not a review but a press release.
    Are these articles supposed to be fair or just promotion?

  • Adam Lewis

    There was a negative word in Stephen’s write up, he said he braved the freezing temps! I was at the 8:30 show and I thought it was as good as it gets. I haven’t had that much fun since I saw Tom Jones at the MGM in Vegas. The band was spot on and the chemistry between Ricki and the guys was like they’d been doing it for ever. If you haven’t seen Ricki perform, you are missing out on a true entertainer. I had purchased the cd a few days before and enjoyed it. Then I saw it live and it was even better. I hope he puts together a regular thing with the big band here in Dallas, cause we all need to feel as good as that show felt Saturday.

    • I don’ think you are being fair Bob. I’m promoting good music just like NPR. I’m not selling anything and there’s no advertising of any kind on my blog. Like NPR I’m telling others about great indie music. What’s wrong with that? I think the more viewpoints the better. And when you have spent the time to go through as much myspace and youtube to find the best – it is worth notice. There is a lot of great music out there that gets no fair notice. I hope to change that. What’s wrong with that?
      Whether its one guy in Fort Worth or 100+ best from all the world – the more great music the better.

  • Stephen Becker, If your intent was to bring a little light to a good musician, how about spotlighting 100 plus of the very best from every corner of the world? How about doing a post on my list of the very best new music of the entire world!
    I’m doing whatever I can to promote a great list of the very best of new music from YOUTUBE and MYSPACE. AFAIK this is the first world list of best music anywhere.
    There are many local artists on the list and they too deserve some mention, if RD does.
    Let’s promote the very best in our area and the rest of the world.
    Musea’s Worldwide Favorite Music LIST from MYSPACE and YOUTUBE
    http://musea.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/100-plus-best-music-from-youtube-and-myspace/

  • Bob Mortor

    I was at the show that night and whole heatedly agree with Mr. Becker. Ricki’s a great entertainer and really knows how to make you feel like your at one of the better shows in Vegas no matter where you see him. I frequent the Cavern on Sunday nights and it’s a testament to his talent that he can entertain in a tint bar just as much as with a huge band. He’s just as fun to watch when he’s not singing as well as when he is.

    I’m actually a little annoyed at this Tom guy promoting his stuff in the comments section. I’m not against someone expressing a contrary opinion, but Ted is not doing so, he obviously wasn’t even at the show, so why is he making a comment? It’s extremely rude to high jack an article that is merely promoting a great singer just to hock your own website, I would appreciate it if a mediator would at least remove his website plug.

    Keep swingin’ Ricki!