It’s out with the old and in with the older as Sweetie & The Toothaches ring in the New Year when the St. Louis jump blues band plays an Englert party Tuesday night (12/31) in the nearby hotelVetro Ballroom.
The ’20s-themed party also features music by the Dandelion Stompers, vintage films presented by FilmScene, hors d’oeuvres, midnight champagne toast and a dance floor ready for some vintage rug-cutting. All proceeds will benefit the Strengthen-Grow-Evolve collaborative initiative by the Englert and FilmScene to preserve and enhance the local arts scene.
Pianist Chase Garrett, 30, is no stranger to that Iowa City scene.
“I’m familiar with the Englert,” Garrett said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
It was a labor of love for the Iowa City native when he put together the lineup for his annual Boogie Woogie Piano Stomp held in the historic theater each November from 2010 to 2017. The dynamic musician assembled the event for a simple reason.
“It was my chance to gather musicians I wanted to play with,” he said by phone from his St. Louis home. “We were never in the same place at the same time, so I had the chance to hire them to come out and play with me. It was fantastic. I miss the Boogie Woogie Piano Stomp. I remember the first year we did the Piano Stomp, I expected no more than 300 people in the audience; 617 people showed up. That’s the way Iowa City is, since it loves the arts. So much good came from playing those shows.”
Meeting Emilie Richard was one of the highlights of the Piano Stomp run for Garrett. Richard, a vocalist who appeared in the last three productions, shares an affinity for jump blues with Garrett.
They formed Sweetie & The Toothaches in 2015, delivering retro R&B and jump blues, and Garrett is thrilled to be returning to his old “stomping” grounds.
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“It’s always significant when I come home for a show,” Garrett said. “I’ll be back where I grew up. That’s huge. It’ll be a blast, since we’ll bring the party.”
Sweetie & The Toothaches will turn the clock back as 2020 arrives. That’s especially so for Richard, who not just belts out the songs from the Greatest Generation, she dolls herself up to look the part of yesteryear.
“I love experimenting with the different hairstyles from that era,” she said. “I just got a new shipment of ’50s dresses I can play around with. That style fits my personality. I love the dresses and putting on the makeup that makes me look like I stepped out of 1953.”
Richard, who has a clarion call of a voice, Garrett and the rest of the band will preview tunes from their next album, due out, which will drop in 2020.
“We have about 12 new songs,” Richard said. “We have some slow blues stuff and some up-tempo songs. We have some Ray Charles and just a real good mix of songs.”
The band has morphed since it last played Iowa City, adding two horn players to the mix.
“It sounds so different now that we have three-part harmonies with horns,” Richard said. “To hear the baritone sax, the tenor sax and the trumpet together has been so cool. It’s going to be a great night for us, since we’ll be playing an amazing venue and it’s Chase’s hometown.”
Garrett, who used to hang out at Iowa City’s Sycamore Mall, loves St. Louis.
“It’s a great music city and it’s where I should be,” he said.
However, when the 2008 Regina High School grad walks the streets of Iowa City, he’s always looking forward to seeing old pals and his hometown’s evolution.
“My best friends still live in Iowa City,” he said. “I love seeing them and I enjoy seeing all of the development downtown. I always check out what’s new in town. Iowa City has changed so much in the few years that I’ve been gone. I’ve grown and so has my old town, and I get to go back and show everyone what I’m up to. I get to do that in the best way possible, which is with a huge party to ring in 2020.”
• What: Ring in 2020
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• Featuring: Music by Sweetie & The Toothaches and The Dandelion Stompers; vintage films from FilmScene, hors d’oeuvres, drinks, midnight toast, dancing; benefit for Strengthen-Grow-Evolve initiative
• Where: hotelVetro Ballroom, 201 S. Linn St., Iowa City
• When: 8 p.m. Tuesday (12/31)
• Tickets: $35 students (only at the Englert Box Office); $75 and $100 adults; $1,200 table of 10; Englert Box Office, (319) 688-2653 or englert.org/event/ring-in-2020/