2014 Jazz & Rib Fest

Band boasts high-energy tunes

Enlarge Image Buy This Photo
Blair Crimmins and his band, The Hookers, will play the Jazz & Rib Fest at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 19, on the American Electric Power Stage. Visit hotribscooljazz.org. The band will play a free show Friday night, July 18, at Hollywood Casino. Visit hollywoodcolumbus.com.

Blair Crimmins & the Hookers is a party band -- no matter what kind of party you want to have.

The Atlanta-based Crimmins and company play banjo-fronted dixie jazz and ragtime -- high-energy tunes featuring a full band, including horn section. But this is not simply a nostalgia act. Crimmins writes and arranges original tunes to be played by this classic instrumentation.

Crimmins studied guitar at the Berklee College of Music. His studies in jazz focused on bebop, modern and other forms of "academic" jazz.

"I left Berklee a little bit jaded with jazz. Then I found my way to earlier stuff, ragtime, dixieland, hot jazz. That stuff was the rock 'n' roll of its day. That's exactly why I like it."

Crimmins takes his songwriting seriously, which is why, he said, the Hookers are equally at home in a theater or a club.

"I'm a storyteller. That's important to me. We enjoy (theater) shows just as much. And the next night we could play a bar, where people are drinking and maybe not even listening to anything I'm singing. We can adapt to that."

The one commonality?

"You gotta be ready to dance."

The title of the band's latest record, Sing-A-Longs, is a nod to a style of song that has become a staple of the Hookers' repertoire.

"We have a song called Oh Angela, and it's a call-and response song, very much like a bandstand style with singing and shouting. Anyway, it became sort of our signature tune, and I started writing more songs like that."

"Not all the songs on this record are like that, but we thought it would be a good name for the record."