Music fans longing for the days of dirt-floor dancehalls and exuberant swing dancing can find solace in "Wild Blue Yonder," the debut of intergenerational trio The Western Flyers. Guitarist Joey McKenzie, National Swing Fiddle champion Katie Glassman and upright bassist Gavin Kelso make up this new band that celebrates old music - particularly American music's jazz, swing, country and blues backbone - by offering their renditions of classic Southwest songbook tunes.
Citing fiddle master and band leader Bob Wills as their chief influence, The Western Flyers take listeners back to the era of fiery concert halls where even the most comfortable wallflower's toes tap. From their first track, Wills' own "You're from Texas," they get both fanatic and casual listeners on board with their throwback sound.
It helps that there's not a dud musician in the trio. McKenzie leads vocals on an updated version "No Moon at All," once recorded by Doris Day and later Mel Torme, and one of the best tracks. Meanwhile, instrumental "Sweet Georgia Brown" is the top showcase of Glassman's fiddle skills. She continues to shine when singing lead vocals on "Never No More," a pepped-up version of the Patsy Cline blues classic. Beneath it all, Kelso's bass line has no problems keeping up.
The Western Flyers' debut is hokey, not haute. But even though the style and lyrics are old-fashioned and simplistic when compared to more sophisticated modern Americana songs, there's still an innocent poetry to them that allows listeners to forget they're in volatile, divisive 2016 and launches them back in time to when all that mattered was having a good time. And that might just be what listeners need right now.