I was a virgin….or so I thought. Of Swing music that is! When Orla Mullan contacted me a few weeks ago about her new venture The Sweethearts of Swing, I was intrigued. It certainly isn’t my first love in music but I thought why not? I’ll see what it entails. Orla told me that herself and two friends, Kat Reagan and Naomi Rocke had formed this new group I was drawn in immediately. There was just something about it. I wasn’t sure what but I wanted to know more. I spoke with Orla over a week ago, and more recently Kat and Naomi. I was equally impressed with all three ladies and their reasons for coming together with this ensemble. Each seemed so passionate about the undertaking and so I was sold. Well, I think I was. I definitely wasn’t certain until a few short hours ago.
Myself and two friends ventured to The Belfray Country Inn shortly after 8.30pm last night and were immediately impressed with the venue. A superb spot (shall definitely return).
The Sweethearts of Swing came on stage shortly after 9pm. The remainder of the night totally blew us away. I genuinely had NO idea of Swing music, The Andrews Sisters or nothing from the 1940’s 50’s etc. But very soon I realised I knew a whole lot more than I’d realised. As soon as they embarked on the infamous ‘Mr Sandman‘ and I heard their outstanding harmonies I was well and truly taken back in time. I genuinely didn’t expect this. I knew the song, and I loved it. As Don’t Sit Under the
Apple Tree, Putting on the Ritz, Little Things Mean a Lot and more followed, I was transported back to an era I believed I knew no music from. I was shocked. I was singing, swaying, dancing in my seat, smiling and definitely in another world. One I really felt at home in. These ladies had waved some crazy magical wand and I was in musical heaven. Everyone was.
And then my climax culminated…a Dirty Dancing favourite…one of my all time favourites…Be My Baby was in full Swing. I wanted to get down on all fours, just like ‘Baby’. As it was ‘water’ in my wine glass, I decided to refrain!! Another time I might not!
Orla, Kat and Naomi all did a number of solo songs. They each excelled in such. Those voices are something you expect on the West End Stage, Broadway and beyond. But we were in Derry, and so were they. Mindblowing in every such way.
However, there was something else which stole tonight for me. I am an avid believer in the power and the importance of ‘friendship’. This oozed of that Derry stage tonight. You could feel it from these three ladies up there. As Orla introduced Kat for Kat’s first solo, she did so saying “She is a very dear friend but she is also one of the most talented people I know.” When Kat introduced Naomi she said “Her voice is absolutely divine.” And then as Naomi introduced Orla, it was to the words, “Our vintage vamp, one of my closest friends. She is so kind and her voice is simply spectacular.” Friendship is not only present between these three ladies, it is first and foremost between them all. I love it.
Tonight these gals gave us Swing at it’s very best. They gave us an insight into the music and life of The Andrews Sisters. But yet they gave us so much more. We got Latino, we got Bette Midler, we even got Christina Aguelira (modern turned swing). These ladies really did have it all.
As for the dancers on that dance floor, they stole many moments tonight for us all. Jealously certainly prevailed for me when it came to the dance. So I haven’t got a ‘note’ and I haven’t got a ‘step’, but I had an ear, and that was enough for tonight. I was able to listen, hear and enjoy some outstanding musical harmonies, some fabulous songs from an era I genuinely thought I knew nothing about.
But most of all I was entertained in a way I never expected. Dramatics on the singing stage, on the dance floor and throughout the venue in general.
The Sweethearts of Swing really did transport me back to an era I really do know little about. But thanks to that outstanding performance I learned a little bit about it. I fell in love with it. And I really do want to hear more.
Orla, Kat and Naomi all told me in recent days that tonight would be ‘Special’. It was…..
And as for my being a ‘virgin’ of Swing Music…I am that no more!!
If you get a chance to go see this trio, just take it. You really won’t regret it. I don’t.