Music News & Reviews

Jive Aces brings the energy of swing bands to benefit concert

The Jive Aces will perform Saturday in Olympia.
The Jive Aces will perform Saturday in Olympia. Courtesy

How much fun is the British swing band the Jive Aces, which is performing Saturday in Olympia?

A Seattle doctor prescribed the Aces’ video “Give Me Sunshine” to a patient suffering winter blues, according to Britain’s Express. Dr. Wallace R. Hodges wrote the prescription, this newspaper reported in its Weird News section.

The band cheered up critical judge Simon Cowell on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2012, making it to the semifinals. When he saw the yellow-suited group’s performance of “I Wanna Be Like You,” Cowell couldn’t stop smiling. “I thought that was absolutely brilliant,” he told the Aces.

The “Sunshine” video begins in a black-and-white world where the weather is gray and chilly, the news is bad and the people are glum. Things get peppy and colorful when the Aces, who specialize in jive music, begin to play and sing.

It would seem that the Aces’ concert and dance — a benefit for new windows for the Eagles Hall Ballroom — is well timed.

Swing dancers are expected to be out in force, said Steve Fisher, an Eagle member who’s heading up the committee working on getting the windows.

Fisher, himself an enthusiastic swing dancer, saw the Jive Aces play three years ago at a friend’s wedding in California. When he realized the band would be swinging through Washington, he arranged to bring them to Olympia.

“This is a dance first and a concert second,” he said. “The Olympia Center ballroom has the largest dance floor in Thurston County. Seats will be surrounding the dance floor for those who want to just sit and watch.”

Indeed, before they became the Aces in 1989, lead singer Ian Clarkson and the rest of the guys were all about dancing. Then in high school, they and their girlfriends would go to London for live music.

“There was a whole underground scene,” John Fordham, the band’s saxophonist, said in an email interview. “We loved it so much, we started a band.”

The jive from which the Aces took their name is jazz music with a rock energy.

“Hot jive is generally what came after World War II to just before rock ’n’ roll,” Fordham said. He and his bandmates got into the music during the swing revival of the ’80s and are among the many who’ve continued to love the music and the dance that goes with it.

“It’s happy music that brings smiles to people’s faces. It did that for me and continues to.

“It will be making people happy 500 years from now.”

If he’s right, there might be another benefit to the timing of this concert at a time when the nation’s political divide is front and center.

“The dance brings people together in a way that only it can,” he said. “It’s a powerful thing, and you can change the world with it.”

The Jive Aces

What: The band, which made it to the semifinals of “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2012, will play a swing dance and concert joined by singer Makinna Ridgway, a Portland native.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia.

Tickets: $25 in advance at and Island Espresso, 1018 Plum St. SE, Olympia; $30 at the door.


Watch: Check out the Jive Aces’ “Give Me Sunshine” at