Eight to the Bar

New Haven Register

 

 

“Eight to the Bar really brings it in [their]12th album…worth owning for the first three tracks alone.. the high-energy group is known for its swing, boogie-woogie.. but there’s even country themes in the new CD’s “Rock Me” (written by lead singer Brinna Jones), “Schoolhouse Rock”-echoes in “The Law of Attraction” (written by [Mike] Corsini) and a fun doo-wop number in “Never Let You Go”. The first three songs are ETTB at its swingin’ best: “That’s Neat, That’s Nice” (written by Terry Adams of NRBQ), “That Man” (a splendid David Schreurs tune recorded previously by European singer Caro Emerald) and “Baby, Why Can’t You Come on Home?” (written by Tilton and Lyon). The title cut is the last on the album, a 1 minute, 31 second ditty referencing the group’s amazing longevity (“bringin’ our swing to your green”).

Sound Waves Magazine

HEARING AID

Eight to the Bar

“Bring It & Swing It!”

Jitter Bop! Records

I started going to see Eight to the Bar in the 1980s and I’ve consistently been blown away by their vocal harmonies, nonstop energy, and super slick arrangements of swing, jazz, blues, doo wop, and Motown tunes. The band formed in 1975 and 40 years later is still “bringing” it. The band will be partying all year in celebration of their 40th anniversary and as luck would have it, they have released a new CD as well. “Bring It & Swing It!” is their 12th album.

The album packaging, or “liner notes” as we used to call them, is a spectacular display of the band in vintage costumes and settings including a 1950s kitchen, hanging around a fantastic 1966 Chevy pickup, and in a one-room schoolhouse. Fans are invited to take a close look at the photos for hidden bits and pieces of nostalgia connected with the band in celebration of their 40 years.

The CD’s 11 tracks include new original songs, two live performance recordings and two covers. Principal writer and founder Cynthia Lyon throws down vocals, piano, organ, and clavinet. Tenor saxophonist Collin Tilton also produced and recorded the album at his Bar None Studio. Rounding out the sextet is Michael Corsini on bass and vocals, Tom Whalen on guitar and vocals, Shawn Meehan on drums, and the newest member, Brinna Jones on vocals.

Long-time fans of Eight to the Bar (ETTB) will not be disappointed. I like how they smooth their way into the CD with a cover of none other than NRBQ! Everybody loves NRBQ- I’m pretty sure. You’ll be swinging right outa the gate with this 1988 Terry Adams tune “That’s Neat, That’s Nice”. Brilliant! The only other cover song, “That Man”, is a 2010 obscure tune from Dutch jazz singer Caro Emerald, which happens to fit in just perfectly with their repertoire and is pulled off true to form. “Baby, Why Can’t You Come on Home?” features Cynthia’s sizzling vocals and Collin’s equally sultry sax. (They wrote this one together.)

The surprising throwback old-school country swing tune “Rock Me” features original ETTB co-founder John “Bubbs” Brown on pedal steel. It’s down-home and sweet! But don’t worry, “Never Let You Go” swoops you right back to 50s doo-wop in an all-new original. It amazes me how this band can keep writing songs from a bygone era- and they work!

“Play It On Your Saxophone” (Live at Infinity Hall) is this band in their element and the proof is in the recording. There’s no need to wonder “if the band will be good live” when listening to what was captured that night onstage, which is what happens every night onstage. This modern-day classic and fan favorite has been preserved perfectly here. The saxophone and the band are so tight and so good it kind of makes you want to scream (and thousands of people do.) The second live recording, also from Infinity Hall in Norfolk, Connecticut (recorded just a few months ago at a 40th Anniversary Blowout Concert), features killer guitar and organ, a drum solo, a bass solo, and just a whole lotta fun in between, culminating in a choreographed frenzy of musical delight.

Finally the title track, “Bring It & Swing It!” is a comical hats-off salute to their 40 years in the biz and the lyrics pretty much say it all: “If you swing it we will bring it…Well I started this band as a swing band, in 1975. And the way that some of us partied, we’re lucky to be alive”.

According to the band’s web site, http://www.eighttothebar.com, two 40th Anniversary shows coming up are:

“Sun Aug 30, the current lineup will be joined by the original lineup of 1975 at the Farm Fest, Rosedale Farm, 25 E. Weatogue Ave., Roxbury, CT from approximately 4-7pm.

Wed, November 25 (the night before Thanksgiving) we’re going to have the biggest reunion show of the year at INFINITY HALL IN HARTFORD! We’ll have the original 1975 lineup, some star members of the ’85 lineup and of course, the current lineup. There will also be plenty of room to dance as well as concert seating”!

                                                                     -Sue Menhart

                                                                     Sound Waves Magazine

                                                                     August 2015

 

 

Fran-O-Rama online radio show

 

 

 

"Cynthia Lyon, Collin Tilton and crew have been bringing it mightily for 40 years and counting now, and they still sound fabulous. They were around long before the swing craze and are still here long after. Judge for yourself!"

 

Hartford Courant

 

 

Eight to the Bar has become a Connecticut institution during a career stretching back to the mid-'70s. Actually, it's not just Connecticut; the group plays all over the country (including a gig October 27 at Infinity Hall) and last year even did a quick tour of the Republic of Georgia near Russia.

The band plays a mix of quintessentially American music: "precisely halfway between Count Basie's Kansas City and Fats Waller's Harlem," in the group's own estimation. In other words, you'll hear swing, big band, Motown and some jump blues from bandleader Cynthia Lyon and her crew. They've recorded 11 albums since Lyon decided in 1975 that a western swing band was the perfect antidote to the disco fever epidemic. A brief breakup in the mid-'80s didn't take, and various incarnations of the band have been rockin' and rollin' ever since, most recently (in recorded form) on 2010's "The Romper Room."

Really, though, the best way to experience Eight to the Bar is in concert where the shared experience helps amplify the urge to kick back and cut loose--and if it's part of a Halloween masquerade and dance party, too, well then it's one you don't want to miss.

"Best Band 2014"           Hartford Magazine

"Best Band 2013"           Hartford Magazine

"Best LIve Band 2010"     Hartford Magazine

"Voted Best Vocal Group"  Connectdicut Magazine 2008, 2007

"Best Jazz Band"             Hartford Advocate 2008 Readers' Poll, Hartford, CT

"Best Swing Band/Old School R&B Band"    Hartford Advocate, 2007 Readers' Poll, Hartford, CT

"Voted Best Vocal Group"  Connecticut Magazine, 2006

"Editors' Choice- Best Dance Band"  Connecticut Magazine 2005

"Eight to the Bar's Hey Sailor is Enchantment Under the Sea-Music" Providence Journal, 2002

"You Can Feel the Swing"   New Haven Advocate, February 2002

"Best R&B Band"   Hartford Advocate, 1996, 1993, 1992 Readers' Poll, Hartford, CT

"Best R&B Band, Best Original Material, and Best Drummer"  Hartford Advocate Readers' Poll, 1991, Hartford, CT

"Eight to the Bar Is Evidently onto Something"  Portland Evening Express, Portland, ME

"This Band Has a Vicious Stage Attack"  Springfield Daily News, Springfield, MA

"They've Got Talent to Burn"   New Haven Advocate, New Haven, CT

"Eight to the Bar is Leading the Swing Renaissance" - Fairfield Magazine, Fairfield, CT

"Vital Music Performed with Vitality"   Virginia Pilot, Norfolk, VA

"Very Promising"       New York Times, New York, NY

"Bring Swing into the Rock Age"        New Haven, CT

"This Band is Something Special- They Can Play"  Hartford Advocate, Hartford, CT

"It's a Privilege to appear on the stage with a band as fine as Eight to the Bar"   Tim Hauser, the Manhattan Transfer

"This Band is Incredibly Tight"    Carly Simon (when we played at her nightclub, "Hot Tin Roof")