By Alexandra Rasic
Masters of ragtime, Dixieland blues, and early swing, the California Feetwarmers are the new kids on the bill at this year’s Ticket to the Twenties festival. They will take the stage on Sunday, October 8, from 3:00-7:00 p.m. Last week I asked band member Patrick Morrison to tell us a little bit about the band’s history, influences, and more.
Alexandra Rasic (AR): How did the band decide on its name? Are you all from California?
Patrick Morrison (PM): There’s an old tradition of jazz bands using the word “feetwarmers” or “footwarmers” in their name. Back in the ‘20s and ‘30s there were famous jazz bands called the Chicago Footwarmers, the New Orleans Feetwarmers, etc. We’re just following in that tradition. California Feetwarmers wasn’t taken yet, so we used it. Half the band is from LA, the other half are from Tennessee and moved here a few years ago. We all met in LA and started playing together due to a general love of the music.
AR: Who are some of the band’s musical icons and influences?
PM: Louis Armstrong. There are many others but Louis is the gold standard for us.
AR: Would you consider yourselves historians of music, aficionados, both, or something else?
PM: We consider ourselves music appreciators, jazz fans, and we’re eager to learn more about the music. We’re lucky to know some true historians/record collectors in LA who we’ve learned a lot from. Our friend Michael Kieffer has been collecting records for decades and has an extensive jazz collection with songs you can’t hear anywhere else. He’s our musical guru in a sense and turned us on to a lot of cool songs that we play in the Feetwarmers. There’s a seemingly endless supply of great jazz songs recorded in the early 20th century, you just need to know where to look!
AR: What excites you most about playing ragtime, Dixieland, and early swing?
PM: It’s exciting music. Classical music is beautiful music, but you can’t dance to it. Other styles of music are easy to dance to but aren’t necessarily as beautiful or complex. Traditional jazz is a nice blend of the two and that’s something I like. It’s just good music.
AR: You toured extensively in Europe over the summer. Tell us about your most memorable show?
PM: We had a few. We were lucky enough to be sponsored by the US Embassy in Albania where we were invited to play for their 4th of July celebration in Tirana, Albania. We performed with some local pop stars and it was a lot of fun! We played around Albania for a week at different festivals, which were all great. One of the best shows though was at an orphanage in Siranda, Albania. We put on a little private show for them. It turned into a joyous event with all the kids dancing and playing our instruments and asking us questions. They were some amazing kids. Here is a YouTube video.
AR: Should we expect a follow-up to your well-received second album, Silver Seas, anytime soon?
PM: Yep! We have plans to start recording in October.
We’ve added a few songs from the Feetwarmers first two albums to a Spotify playlist we’ve created for the festival. Log in to your Spotify account and give it a listen!
All images courtesy of the California Feetwarmers.