Cats and Jammers

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Cats and Jammers formed in 1986 in the San Francisco Bay area. Tony Marcus and Kevin Wimmer played a gig together, enjoying their twin swing fiddle sound. They pulled in Piper Heisig on bass and Sylvia…
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Artist Biography by

Cats and Jammers formed in 1986 in the San Francisco Bay area. Tony Marcus and Kevin Wimmer played a gig together, enjoying their twin swing fiddle sound. They pulled in Piper Heisig on bass and Sylvia Herold on guitar to fill out the sound. They were united by their love of the Boswell Sisters, the Mills Brothers and other giants of vocal and small group swing. Eventually Wimmer had to move from the San Francisco area and the group decided that they sounded just fine as a trio.

Long before the swing revival, Cats and Jammers were driving to their gigs in a 1940 Buick and dressing to the nines in period clothing. More importantly, they revived early swing where it counts -in the music. They did not calm down the music a whit, as so many nostalgia groups are prone to doing. They can play sweet and hot and there aren't that many groups today that achieve that. There is a satisfying balance between Herold's clear, ringing soprano, Heisig's bluesy alto, and Marcus' pleasant, warm baritone. Cats and Jammers have a seamless ensemble sound, even when they are blue-blowing (vocal imitation of instruments, esp. brass instruments) together. They are no slouches when it comes to their instruments either. Heisig and Marcus are multi-instrumentalists, and all three are employed in bands in addition to Cats and Jammers.

They have impeccable taste in cover tunes, dredging up some real gems like "Mene Mene Tekel" and "Atomic Cocktail." Although they concentrate on the late 30s and early '40s, they have been known to take in later tunes as well. Cats and Jammers has appeared at the Centrum Hot Jazz Festival in Washington, Strawberry Music Festival in California, the San Francisco Jazz Festival and the Black Mountain Festival in North Carolina. The group makes occasional forays to more far-flung states, but for the most part stays on the West Coast when it tours.

Cats and Jammers releases CDs on their own label, Tuxedo, and can be reached at CatsandJam@aol.com.