It was an instant sensation—a sound that was almost unheard at music venues in the High Country, suddenly live on Howard Street—echoing through Downtown Boone on a late spring Monday night. Within minutes, dancers were on the floor of an old car dealer space turned warehouse, and the summer of 2014 was off and running.
Swing Set was live at ‘The Uptown!’ And now, they’re set to return this Friday.
It was an amazing site, with a real swing band—Swing Set—blasting out tunes from the ‘crooner’ era of swing—from Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and even more recent versions from Michael Buble’ and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The ASU Swing Dance Club came, then the campers from Cannon Music Camp, even some professional dancers as a crowd of ‘regulars’ was soon established.
That continued through the summer of 2014, and again in the summer of 2015, but then the fate of the venue was up in the air in the summer of 2016, and Howard Street fell silent during those dinner hours.
Fast-forward to late 2016 and early 2017 as Appalachian State’s IDEXlab course students completely renovated the building after design students and art professors at App discovered a new audience for their works by displaying them there. Ariel Ivy Green, now the HOW Space coordinator, says interest is high in use of the beautiful building, with some bookings over a year out.
Back to 2014-15; one of the best parts of these phenomenal Swing Set events was people watching—waiting to see couples and groups walking to a dinner venue, and as they came in front of the open garage doors, watching their heads suddenly turn as they music hit them. Most stopped and stared, open mouthed, trying to take in what they were hearing and seeing; A cacophony of jazz and swing, fronted by the gyrations of a warehouse full of dancers.
Steve Frank, founder and director of Swing Set, says he kept up with the changes to the venue, and was one of the first in line to seek use of the building, hoping to revive the vibe from previous summers. Frank says his idea is to schedule the ‘Swing Street’ events and partner with a local not-for-profit and a business for the mutual benefit of all.
The first event, this Friday, comes with a focus on the Appalachian Theater project, as supporters try to finish out their fund-raising and restore the building, creating another draw to Downtown Boone. His idea is to have the Swing Set downbeat come as the last notes are heard from in front of the Jones House.
Frank said that he hopes to schedule an average of two events a month, targeting the First Friday and third Monday June through Labor Day weekend as a schedule. Other bookings of the band have altered that a bit, he said, with the band booked in Avery on the first Friday of August, so the band is looking to do the first and third Mondays on Howard Street that month.
Seeking involvement from the local non-profits and businesses, Frank asks anyone interested to email [email protected] or call 828-414-1027.