Thursday, August 9, 2007
Way Out West With Abel Ramirez
Something remarkable happens every Tuesday evening in a nondescript strip mall at the remote edge of western Johnson County. A group of aging music and dance fans pour into an otherwise typical tavern for a vivid big band revival.
There's scarcely room to move at Tony's Bar & Grill as the Abel Ramirez Big Band tunes up. Squeezing onto the packed dance floor seems like the only reasonable option. The bar's adjacent game room serves as an overflow space for dancers.
Just because theirs is a functional music played explicitly for dancers doesn't mean the sound they produce isn't without artistic merit. They expertly work through charts based on the books of Artie Shaw, Perez Prado, Benny Goodman and the Dorseys. It's remarkably well executed.
It wasn't all giggles last Tuesday, however. Bandleader Ramirez was forced to make a difficult announcement before the night's first song.
"Management has asked me to inform you that you will no longer be able to reserve tables," Ramirez said. Cries of horror filled the room.
This minor gem of a video features the Abel Ramirez Big Band starting at the 5:15 mark. I'm sure that the same enthusiastic dancers on stage with the band at the Johnson Community College performance can be spotted at Tony's on Tuesdays.
Move it or lose it.
(Original photos taken by Plastic Sax on 8/07/07. I couldn't resist adding the sepia tint.)