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Band Du Pays

Jazz and swing tunes inspire Ashland group
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From left, Band Du Pays members include bassist Merrill Smith, guitarist Tony Brussat, drummer Andy Combs, saxophone player Stephen Gagné and vocalist Kacie Garner.
 Posted: 2:00 AM November 06, 2012

After five years of playing together, jazz and swing group Band Du Pays has just recorded an eight-song demo album and launched a website, www.banddupays.com.

The five-piece ensemble is made up of Kacie Garner on vocals, Merrill Smith on bass and vocals, Tony Brussat on guitar and vocals, Stephen Gagné on sax and clarinet and Andy Combs on drums.

"All of us love beautiful melodies, and jazz is full of beautiful melodies," says Gagné. "That's the kind of songs we tend to be drawn to. So we all love to focus on that."

If you go

What: Performance by Band Du Pays

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7

Where: Liquid Assets, 96 N. Main St.

To see a video of Band Du Pays performing "Them There Eyes," visit www.dailytidings.com/tidingscafe

With regular gigs at Liquid Assets wine bar and at Smith's bakery, La Baguette on A Street, the bandmates see each other often and continually hone their craft.

"It keeps you in the mix," says Smith.

All are multi-instrumentalists with the exception of lead vocalist Garner, who studied musical theater in school.

"I love these songs; it's my favorite genre," says Garner. "They just don't write songs like this anymore. The words are so beautiful in each song."

Playing '20s and '30s swing and jazz tunes from composers such as Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck, the group got its start just playing together for fun at Smith's bakery, where he keeps multiple instruments for visitors to play, including a piano.

"There's very few places that have a live piano on the floor, so this is an invitation for many pianists to come and play and they love it," says Smith. "I have many pianists that come in here, so I get to play with a lot of good players — all of us do, because that piano is here, people can show up and just grab a guitar."

Musicians perform at La Baguette from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday.

For the Tidings Cafe, Band Du Pays performed "Them There Eyes," by Maceo Pinkard, William Tracey and Doris Tauber at La Baguette.

"Since Kacie has joined the band, she's brought in a lot of tunes that sort of take us to a new place — not just melodically but harmonically, says Brussat. "She's like lifted up the band to a new level in a lot of ways."

Band Du Pays members hope their demo will help get them bigger gigs, such as weddings, large parties and wineries, and be a warm-up to a full-length album, which they want to record next year.

Members also want to someday play at a big swing dance, where people come for the sole purpose of dancing.

"When musicians see people dancing to their music, it's a real charge," says Smith. "You know you have a good groove going when people are dancing."

The group is learning Christmas tunes to be prepared for the upcoming holiday season.

"Andy, our drummer, loves to drum Christmas songs," says Smith. "We call him the little drummer boy."

Band Du Pays sticks with jazz and swing tunes because it feels they're sophisticated and interesting.

"It's textured and it's got some good moving rhythms," says Smith.

Band Du Pays will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Liquid Assets, 96 N. Main St., Ashland.

Reach Mandy Valencia at avalencia@mailtribune.com.


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