The Barn Door Slammers are a 7-piece band that will take you back to the dance halls of the 1940's and '50s, with a Western flavor and a big-band beat.
Western Swing emerged in the American Southwest in the 1930’s with roots in the fiddle bands that played for house dances in rural Texas and Oklahoma, and spread to the cities and airwaves, encompassing influences as diverse as pop tunes, fiddle breakdowns, blues, ragtime, jazz standards, honky tonk and bebop. During the 1930's and the war years of the 1940s, the music followed a migration to the west coast where the popular bands of the day drew thousands of dancers to venues such as the Venice Pier in Los Angeles and Jantzen Beach in Portland, often outdrawing the big touring swing bands.
The Barn Door Slammers embrace the music of the Western Swing bands at their peak, drawing on the repertoire of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, The Spade Cooley Orchestra, and Tex Williams’ Western Caravan, as well as more obscure music drawn from dusty 78’s, unearthed live recordings from the early 50’s, and their own original compositions. The combination of twin fiddles, steel guitar, electric archtop guitar, and a swinging rhythm section of upright bass and drums were at the core of those bands, and the key to the Barn Door Slammers' groove behind their versatile vocalist Bret Ervin Lien. The Barn Door Slammers 2013 cd has drawn critical praise in the US and Europe continues to be a favorite of Western Swing and Americana DJs.
It’s a dance-able mix spanning the genres of fiddle tunes to bebop, all laid down with the beat of a swinging big band. The Barn Door Slammers have been playing festivals, concerts and dance halls in the Northwest since 2011, a favorite of swing dancers in the Portland scene as well as country and Americana fans out where the coyotes howl.
The band is comprised of players with histories as diverse as the musical roots of Western Swing. Between them they’ve played house parties and square dances, rockabilly clubs, the jump blues circuit, jazz clubs, blues, western swing and bluegrass festivals, rock tours in Europe, rodeos and honky tonks. All that rolled into one dance band makes for a swinging musical treat that brings smiles wherever they play.
Todd Clinesmith steel guitar
Kevin Healy fiddle
Jenn “Huck” Huckins fiddle
Bret Ervin Lien vocals
Rusty Blake electric guitar
Pete Lampe stand-up bass
Russell Gores drums
“Superb Hillbilly Bop!”—Bernard Boyat, Rock and Roll Revue, France
“Carefully crafted aural mayhem”—David Innes, R2 Magazine, UK
"The Barn Door Slammers are a great group of musicians that do a hoppin' version of western swing. The twin fiddles are sweet, and the twin guitars tasty. This band is tight and very fun to watch. There are no weak points, and the lead singer, Bret, brings home the flavor of the old western swing greats. It's music that makes me smile."--Jeff888 cdbaby review
CD Review by David Innes, R2 Magazine, London July 2014
Founded on throbbing, bubbling upright bass, incessant off-beat percussion, and the rhythm of damped strings, The Barn Door Slammers, from Portland, Oregon, define contemporary western swing and its multi-strand hinterland of sub-genres.
It’s obvious where those less-frenetic seminal rock’n’roll pioneers drew influence, as the Slammers charge at their material, utilizing the full range of instruments traditionally employed to power the music. Jazz-inflected guitar, bluesy fiddles and scintillating Hawaiian lap steel compete, co-operate and cohabit joyous mixes designed originally to make our parents and grandparents dance. It’s probably how they met and, in a roundabout way, where we all came from.
The tempo is almost incessantly upbeat, with titles like ‘Snatchin’ And Grabbin’, ‘Roped and Tied’ and ‘Boggs’ Boogie’ giving none too subtle clues as tp the content and intent of the Slammers’ efforts. Yet, when brief respite is taken in ‘Brain Cloudy Blues’, the other side of this exhausting septet is demonstrated, and is just as beautiful and lively in its own way as the surrounding, carefully crafted aural mayhem.