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No band swings like Bohemian Swingers do

Published Oct. 7, 2005

Many local bands will tell you how different they are from other bands. How diverse and creative they are. That nobody quite has the sound they have.

The Bohemian Swingers let their music do the talking. Diversity is an understatement for this Indian Rocks Beach band.

If you like rock, swing, bluegrass, ska, calypso, blues, African-style or even polka, just to name a few, the Swingers are your kind of band. They don't just go through the motions either. They put out a charismatic vibe that has made them one of the most popular bands in the Tampa Bay area.

"We try to be artists and not human jukeboxes," vocalist and rhythm guitarist Eddie "Spooly" Rosicky said. "Instead of playing music the way (the audience) has heard it before, we like to do something different."

Different doesn't even come close. When they do covers of songs, they twist and turn them away from the original. For instance, when they do My Girl by the Temptations, they transform it from a Motown to a ska sound. Bluesy B.

B. King tunes will be changed into a Latino, samba sound.

"If it's fun for the people and we like it, we'll try to incorporate it in our show," said stand-up bassist Mike "Logger" Godwin. "We're always trying to stretch out. We just want to take songs you hear on the radio and make them eclectically different."

Speaking of different, you can't run down to the music store and some of the instruments played by the Swingers. Sure, you have your drum kit, electric and rhythm guitars. But, what are a kazoozaphone and a logaphone?

The kazoozaphone was actually created after a trip to a garage sale. Conga player Barney Waterbury bought an old, somewhat defective saxophone and added a kazoo to it.

The logaphone has become a staple of the Swingers' infamous drum sessions. On a camping trip, the band found a large log and with another log, Waterbury worked out different pitches on the wood that give a tribal African sound.

The band also incorporates the audience into its sound with its trademark "shakers," shell-filled beer and soft drink cans that the band passes out to the crowd.

The Swingers are branching out from the beaches where they have usually played and are performing more in Tampa. In November, they have gigs planned in New Orleans, Gainesville and Jacksonville.

Their first compact disc, Gypsy Rhythm, recorded at Skipper's Smokehouse, is due out next month. Most of the songs are originals.

"The songs are about our travel experiences," said Rosicky. "The song Road Trip is about when Barney packed up all of his stuff and rode his 10-speed down here from Memphis, Tenn. A song called Gypsy Rhythm that I wrote about Mike (lead guitarist Mike Powel) is just about running away from home and traveling. So, the CD's about music and spirituality and religion and finding out that music made them see the light."

To obtain information or book the Bohemian Swingers, call 596-5253.

The Bohemian Swingers

The Band: Eddie "Spooly" Rosicky, 30, rhythm guitar, lead vocals; Michael "Logger" Godwin, 25, stand-up bass; Ric Shirvis, 25, drummer; Barney Waterbury, 38, congas, lead vocals; Mike Powel, 36, lead guitar, mandolin; Christian Marks, 28, sound man.

What Their Sound Is: You name it, they play it: from Grateful Dead to a swing to polka. Mostly originals, some covers.

Discography: Gypsy Rhythm. This compact disc of 10 originals and one cover was recorded live at Skipper's Smokehouse last April. It is set for release in early November.

What's The Deal with The Bohemian Swingers: All band members have traveled extensively and liken their experiences to Bohemians, French gypsies who roamed Europe, and they add a swing sound to most of their music.

What Their Real Jobs Are: The band. They play five to six gigs a week.

Upcoming Gigs: 8 tonight, Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road; 8 p.m. Friday, Gulfport Casino; 8 p.m. Sunday, Cleary's on the Beach, Indian Rocks Beach; 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Silas Dent's, St. Pete Beach; 8 p.m. Oct. 28, Freaker's Ball at Skipper's Smokehouse.