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Swinging and swaying to the music

BY REBECCA KOONS | FEBRUARY 19, 2009 7:51 AM

They didn’t have to travel far to find what they were looking for. The members of She Swings, She Sways didn’t even have to leave Iowa.

The Ottumwa-based band will perform at noon on Friday at Java House, 211 1/2 E. Washington St., as part of the “Java Blend” series. The group has received positive feedback for its latest album, Wasted Love Songs, which was released in July 2008.

The sextet is imbued with a bevy of musical influences. Having not grown up in the “Information Age,” they had to obtain their fill of music the old-fashioned way — radio and MTV — said guitarist/vocalist John Gordon.

“Living in Iowa meant that none of us was ever part of any legitimate ‘scene,’ ” Gordon said. “Most of our musical teeth were cut on whatever was in the top-40 radio: Michael Jackson, Gin Blossoms, early ’90s pop music, etc., or we heard a lot of classic rock radio: CCR, the Beatles, Neil Diamond.”

And, even though he despised it as a youth, bassist Troy Morgan said a tinge of country music influence can be heard in the group’s music.

“No matter what I thought of it, though, it was always around,” he said. “I’ve always played with songwriters, and I guess it was inevitable for some of that sound to creep in.”

She Swings, She Sways’ story began when Gordon and guitarist Cory Canny started as an acoustic duo after meeting in a record store. The group then grew from, adding Morgan and drummer Jason Bolinger. They rounded off the lineup in 2007 with the addition of Wes VanAntwerp (electric guitar) and Diana Garles (keys, vocals, trumpet).

Morgan said the group’s name was born out of a lyric from the band’s song “Doreen,” released on its first, self-titled EP in 2005.

“In the context of ‘Doreen,’ it’s unclear whether the ‘she’ is dancing or dangling from a rope; I think that’s a situation we all find ourselves in at times,” he said.

Since 2005, She Swings, She Sways has toured the Midwest in an effort to gain a broader fan base. With its distinctive blend of pop-laced folk music and genuine attitude toward performing, there seems to be no limit to what this band can do.

Gordon said consistency is very important to the band when it comes to live shows. The members are not a group of musicians who jam during a show; rather, they offer cohesive, tight performances, he said.

Though that’s not to say that the group is uptight in any way.

“We like to be ourselves,” Gordon said. “The audience — particularly our generation — has an incredible BS detector.”

The band’s determination to provide listeners with great music is an ongoing effort on- and offstage. Working with such a team has been quite rewarding, Morgan said, and he has “learned more about work from being in this band than I have from any job.”

“These guys are my friends, and I care about the work we do.”


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