Jitterbug ~ Another name for the Lindy Hop or swing dancing. Jitterbug music is the very danceable music from the 30s & 40s.
Vipers ~ Viper music is a special kind of swing music from the 30s & 40s which was played and sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Louis Jordan.
Eugene Weekly Press that says it better than we do:
There’s a nightclub, and you’re in it. Maybe it’s 1942. Maybe it’s last week. Maybe it’s tomorrow. That doesn’t matter. The smell of incense fills the room. Onstage you see the internationally known Slim Richey, “The Most Dangerous Guitarist in Texas.” A lesser man might be referred to as “elderly.” Richey is tall, gaunt, with an epic white beard and a red fedora. From his hollow-body guitar he coaxes sweet jazz sounds, his hands gentle yet assertive — snapping off lush chords with fingers and thumbs. This is what the Jitterbug Vipers from Austin are like.
On vocals there’s Sarah Sharp. Willowy and blonde, she slips and slides around with her sibilant esses like Billie Holiday. She coos; she hollers; she’s sultry. But Sharp can still have fun with a goofy little ditty called “Hot As Hell.” On bass — all teeth and dyed-red hair — is the awesomely named Francie Meaux Jeaux, who has played with the likes of Dan Hicks and Michelle Shocked. Behind the skins is Masumi Jones, “The Tokyo Tsunami.” Jones plays those drums like a tropical storm. She stops, she starts, she’s gentle and she’s hard.
One minute the Vipers transport you to another time, a smoky jazz club or gin joint. The next, they’re all tom-toms and energy, reminding you that punk is an idea that knows no genre or era. In the band’s own words, the Jitterbug Vipers are “swingadelic” and when the group plays, somehow, here, Jerry Garcia hands Count Basie a joint and says, “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”
Founded by “The Most Dangerous Guitarist in Texas,” Slim Richey, the Jitterbug Vipers include lead singer Sarah Sharp, bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux, drummer Masumi Jones … and Slim! They have developed a hybrid music based on Lindy Hop, Viper music of the 1930s and 40s and Viper inspired originals that channel Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and other jazz greats of that era.
Jitterbug Vipers perform with comedic tongue in cheek abandon that is all Austin, performing such songs as “Save the Roach for Me” and “Who Put the Benzadrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine.” With the release of their first studio album, “Tell ‘Em Joe Sent You” in 2012, the quartet showcases their ability to blend the music of “days gone by” with clever, modern quips and nods to inebriation, intoxication and feverish puffing on “the devil’s cabbage.”
The band is a favorite of Austin Swing Syndicate (Best Lindy Band ‘08-’09) and the Austin Chronicle (2009 Austin Music Award for Best Jazz Band – Sarah Sharp). Of band leader Slim Richey, respected Austin musician Jon Dee Graham says, “Slim Richey is the plenipotentiary of Jazz guitar…watching his hands to try and understand what he’s doing is like watching a waterfall to try and understand water.”
Well respected in the industry, Slim Richey has played and recorded with Herb Ellis, Marc Johnson, Ricky Skaggs, Ray Price, and is internationally recognized for his distinct style of Southwestern jazz and swing. Bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux has played with Dan Hicks, Michelle Shocked, Bruce Robison and is a veteran of the San Miguel de Allende International Jazz Festival in Mexico. Drummer Masumi Jones is a regular staple at Austin’s Elephant Room, and vocalist Sarah Sharp is gaining a reputation as an international go-to songwriter as Kaliyo (a collaboration with Andrea Perry), nabbing song placements with Chanel, ABC’s Revenge, & numerous other TV, film, ad campaigns throughout the world. As a quartet, Jitterbug Vipers are a well-respected staple on the festival circuit, most recently performing at UTOPiAfest 2012, Kerrville Folk Festival, and Old Settler’s Music Festival.