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Big Band Swing group will head up Jazz Fest

Dan Bischoff, Of the Record Staff
Members of Royal Crown Revue. They will bring their swing-bop jazz to the Park City Jazz Festival on Aug. 25.
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Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz aren’t the only artists who got a career boost from the 1994 movie "The Mask." It also shot the band Royal Crown Revue into the mainstream with the hit song "Hey Pachuco."

Since then, Royal Crown Revue has traveled the country and the world.

"The director from the film ‘The Mask’ saw us play and wanted our music in the movie. That helped put us on the map a little bit," said Eddie Nichols, the band’s lead vocalist.

Royal Crown Revue plans to perform twice during the first day of the Park City Jazz Festival, which will run from Aug. 25-27. The festival V.I.P. seats for Friday are close to a sellout and the local’s tickets are almost gone as well.

The band is known for its swing jazz, but Nichols doesn’t want listeners to see them as confined to the genre.

"Now our challenge is just trying to get people to not have a preconceived moniker," Nichols said. "That’s why we do well overseas because they just come and hear us. We don’t want to be pigeonholed in a category."

Their style is a mix of oldies with a modern flavor. It’s styled after the 1940s big bands and the jump blues of the ’50s. The band was formed because of the members’ love of the music from that era. Nichols actually started doing punk music until he recognized his passion.

"After punk rock, I got tired of all the angst and I just realized what I love was music from the ’50s," Nichols said. "We had a group of guys where that style of classic stuff appealed to us. If you go to my sax player’s house, it’s like going back 40 years ago. We’re all into it."

It’s not just the music that will call to another era. Eyes of the viewers will also be treated to a flashback.

"From razor-sharp, double-breasted suits to fedoras, hand-painted ’40’s ties, vintage instruments, cars and furniture, the band embraced the retro lifestyle to its fullest," wrote Kim Vollsted the band manager.

"The style of music is a mix of old rhythm and blues and rock and roll," Nichols said. "We use all of the elements of the ’40s ’50s and ’60s. The look is of another era. We try to put on a show that’s like going to see a band in the ’50s and ’60s. At the same time, we play a lot of high-energy originals to draw in younger audiences to old."

Much of the music is based on a harder theme from that era. A style Nichols refers to as "hard-boiled style" and a theme they showcased in their first album, in 1991, called "Kings of Gangster Bop," with songs of gangsters, Hollywood street life and big-top tragedies.

"It is a tougher approach," Nichols said. "My inspiration in those days was to jump around, I read a lot of old crime novels of the two-bit criminal and the gumshoe and I tried to paint the darker underworld in a retro fashion. These writers wrote from the other end of the law."

Although the music is based on swing, Nichols wants music fans to know it won’t be dull. The current band behind Nichols is the best he’s played with since he began in 1989, he said.

"It’s going to be entertaining and with enough punch so it won’t be boring. If there’s a lot of older folks, I take in consideration what they would like and calm things down, but I still slam them once in a while," Nichols said with a grin. "I have the best band anybody can ask for right now. I used to struggle when I was younger because they weren’t good enough. Now I feel like the weak one."

Nichols said. the style of his band will create a unique show for people in Park City.

"The folks can expect a high energy, very entertaining show and a really good time," Nichols said. "It’s not only the musicianship that is very high, but the entertainments side is still there. It’s not guys just sitting on stools."

Royal Crown Revue will play at 4:30 and 7 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Michelob Stage during the Fidelity Investments Park City Jazz Festival. Some tickets to the festival are selling out. For more information, and a schedule of events, call the Park City Jazz Foundation at 940-1362 or visit http://www.parkcityjazz.org.


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