My Sweet Patootie
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My Sweet Patootie

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"Canadian jazz/folk duo ready to 'Patootify' the planet"

In their first full-time year as jazz/folk duo My Sweet Patootie, fiddler Sandra Swannell and guitarist Terry Young had plenty of adventures in 2010. They toured through Manitoba in the dead of winter, recorded their second album at Swannell's one-room schoolhouse-turned-home, and entertained audiences elsewhere around Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

One memory, however, will always stand above the rest: a visit to the Spam Museum in Austin, Minn. They'd almost gone there while on the road with their former band, Tanglefoot — they'd even pulled up to the entrance but had never ventured inside.

"So this year — in November when we were on tour — I said, 'OK, we've got a day off. We've got to go to the Spam Museum!'" Swannell said in a phone interview from Ontario last week. "We have a couple of fans who live right in Austin and actually work for Hormel but have never been to the museum. When you have tourists, you're like the Spam ambassador. You have to do it!"

"I think 'Spam-bassabor' would be a better word!" Young interjected with a laugh.

Swannell continued: "They show you this movie that's based on pop culture around Spam, and my favorite line in the whole thing is an a cappella girl band called the Spamettes. The camera zooms in on this one woman who says, 'You know, there are a lot of girl groups out there, but none of them sing about Spam!' They had a really good sense of humor about themselves."

It's understandable that they'd appreciate the irreverence of it all, because My Sweet Patootie invokes a similar cheeky humor. When they perform at the Endicott Performing Arts Center on Sunday afternoon, they'll bring an act that's two parts exemplary musicianship and one part vaudeville comedy.

Swannell is a fiddle wizard, with skills honed as a classical violinist and a stint with Celtic rockers The Shards; Young specializes in finger-style playing on acoustic guitar, an instrument he picked up in high school and has never put down. As they swap lead vocals and blend close harmonies, some smart Western swing in the vein of Dan Hicks can segue into fast and furious instrumentals as well as a heart-tugging ballad or two.

The duo's latest album (self-released in the fall) invites everyone to get "Patootiefied!" — a cute title that's hard to resist. Catchy, upbeat melodies are woven throughout the album's 12 tracks, and the topics are irreverent and fun. "Daddy Needs a New Tractor," for instance, laments how a musician's life isn't always a lucrative one; "That Love Thing" finds an anti-romantic going head over heels for someone special; "Coffee Bean" is filled with playful double entendres; and "Little Red Wagon" is based on Swannell's own 1962 Buick Special Station Wagon, which always turns heads in her hometown. The Pat Benatar classic "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" gets stripped down and refashioned as a 1940s radio staple.

Among the album's more tender moments are "This Old Quilt," which traces a family's history through fabric squares, and "Fox & Possum," a cross-border love story between an American and a Canadian based on two friends' romance.
Swannell feels that touring together last year has helped her and Young develop an even better rapport and added depth to the new songs, many of which were shaped and polished at live shows.
"All of the songs we write are completely different — or at least I think they are — so we're painting from a broader palette, which is really fun," she said.
The first My Sweet Patootie CD, 2008's "Nowheresville," included a host of other musicians in the studio. "This album," Young said, "is just us — it's really pared down. A lot of the songs are arranged just as you would hear them live, with no overdubbing.
"But still, the process always takes longer than you think — between laying down the parts and then sending them out to our good friend [and former Tanglefoot bandmate] Bryan Weirmier, who mixed the album for us. Bryan's wife also just had a baby, so it turned out that when the album was ready to be mixed, the baby was ready to be born!"
As 2010 became 2011 last week, the Patootie posse laid plans for this coming year, such as a summer swing through the Midwest and two months playing festivals and other gigs in England. Also, while everyone else is putting away their Christmas ornaments, they're also considering a holiday album for release in the fall.
One thing is for sure: No matter what's ahead, Young and Swannell are guaranteed to do it with a playful panache.

- Pressconnects Binghampton


"My Sweet Patootie "Nowheresville""

My Sweet Patootie is a Canadian duo formed by singer and guitarist Terry Young and singer and violinist Sandra Swanell. The duo is backed by three musicians on bass, percussion and guitars. The album contains fourteen self written songs. The album starts with the nice song The marble which shows exactly what the band is, a duo with songs that tell a story brought with a lot of pleasure and inner drive. Listen to Sweet patootie rag and you hear their positive happiness shine all over the place. The rest of the album stays a bit in this style, not much surprises just nice music that puts a smile on the face. Good instrumental work, a fresh album brought with humour and passion. - FolkWorld


"My Sweet Patootie "Nowheresville" review"

If Americana is as broad a church as we’d like to think it is, let’s include My Sweet Patootie. Their album, Nowheresville (Easy Bake Records) certainly includes elements of Americana, but they appear to great take great delight in mixing up jazz, gypsy, swing and chirpy, semi-humorous wordplay. It could have been one to avoid, but it’s not. Sandra Swannell and Terry Young seem to be having so much fun that you’d have to be a committed sourpuss to take any offence.
- Leicester Bangs UK Americana Round-Up


"Fan Live Performance Review EPAC"

Count me as one who was “Patootified” this weekend. My Sweet Patootie at EPAC had the flashing fingers of Terry Young on guitar, the virtuoso bowing of Sandra Swannell on fiddle, the warm and bright mixing of their voices, but most of all the audience had fun! They mix swing, folk and contemporary stylings in their songs, most of which are their own compositions and lyrics. The one exception I noticed was a swing-flavored version of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which delighted the audience, to end their first set.

I’ve owned their debut album, “Nowheresville,” since last summer, and many of those songs were in the live concert. Their introductions, though, gave the familiar songs a new life. Also heard were a good many new songs, which they plan to include on their next CD, to be recorded in April. I’ll be on the lookout for that, as well as their next swing through town. - Broome Arts Mirror- Broome County Arts Council


"Nowheresville CD Review"

I’ve commented previously that it’s damnably difficult to find comedic musics, so this duo / band comes as a huge relief in straitened times. Violist, violinist, fiddler Sandy Swannell was principal violist with the Georgian Bay Symphony, a member of a string quartet, and she’s recorded with Stompin’ Tom Connors. She’s a great vocalist too! In the Canadian band Tanglefoot, she met mandolinist, banjo player, guitarist, and vocalist Terry Young, and the two hit it off so well, with such a penchant for the tongue-in-cheek and ribald, that they formed their own combo, attracting one of Oscar Peterson’s bassists, Dave Young, and Chilliwack drummer Bucky Berger.
As might be expected, the tone is light and breezy, but, as might not be quite so standard, the two have deceptively erudite ways with their instruments. Young’s an extremely talented picker, and, if you don’t listen carefully, you’ll miss a world of string wizardry. The guy puts so much into each measure and can change up with such jaw-dropping dexterity that while you’re dazzled at one passage, he’s already half way through the next. Swannell’s equally skilled on her axe, adopting a strongly gypsy flavor with loose Cajun fluidity flowing like quicksilver atop Young’s patterns and progressions.
The humorous elements lie, of course, in the lyrics, so, when it comes to gardens and The Dandiest of Dandelions, we hear:
Have you ever looked closely at a blade of grass?
The way it keeps growing is a pain in the...
As plants go, it’s skinny and common at best
And yet I remain the one you detest
…which is chuckle-producing and runs the “as” in place of “ass”. Other stanzas, as in The Roadside Evangelist, are trenchant while wry:
I met a man on the side of the road
He was a raggedy man
I couldn’t make out what he was on about
Some conspiracy or master plan
He said "Brother, keep your spare change
For some other poor unfortunate
I don't need your pity now
But I sure could use a cigarette
Nowheresville (2)


…and there are plenty of turns of phrase, in Jiggity Jig for instance, that a whole lot of good writers, like some I can think of (ahem!), would envy:

I play a couple of tunes and down another beer
But a packed house is empty when my baby isn't here

Then we have the instrumentals, three of 'em, with Letting Go of the Weight of the World trotting out the pair's complexities, incorporating elements of such prog-folkies as Cano, Hometown Band, Conventum, Valdy, and perhaps even Flairck. Much of the material is swing or something very close, and whatever doesn't swing sways in that direction even when bayou lazy. There's a bit of Dan Hicks, the Andrews Sisters, Asleep at the Wheel, and even City Boy, a rock band which penned clever verses very much like Sweet Patootie's. Lots to like here, o' you tavern trawlers and moon-eyed hipsters, lots to like

- Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange


"My Sweet Patootie Album Nowheresville"

Like me you will probably remember the magnificent Canadian band Tanglefoot with great fondness, regretting the fact they quit touring and disbanded at the end of last year. Out of the ashes, however, has risen the memorably-named duo My Sweet Patootie, which comprises guitarist Terry Young and fiddle player Sandra Swannell.

Actually, it turns out that this spicy musical partnership was formed back in 2007, after the two had discovered a mutual love of big-band and swinging jazzy country-blues-type music; and, as you might expect, they show immense flair as instrumentalists within those musical idioms, with sensitivity-within-wizardry and highly polished musicianship high on the agenda at all times. Sandra’s seriously quicksilver flamboyance totally complements Terry’s flashily dextrous fingerpicking; they’re simply amazing, in other words! Their repertoire is exclusively self-penned: the majority of their songs are joint compositions (I’d guess Terry provides the words and Sandra the music, tho’ I may be wrong here), with one solo composition apiece and a couple of brilliant instrumentals (the inevitably-titled Sweet Patootie Rag and a sparkling folky-proggy revisit of the title cut from Terry’s own solo album).
The duo’s songs are almost exclusively in the light ’n’ breezy fun/satire vein, and their impact varies from hitting the bullseye or tongue-in-cheek close to the mark to slightly laboured or featherweight-disposable. When they get the balance right, the results are absolutely delicious.

But instrumentally, the duo are forever spot-on: the Hot-Club-style ambience of their playing is both highly persuasive and very attractive, and as if that weren’t enough both singers are darned brilliant, for they turn in some really neat close-harmony vocals on Out Of Luck and the stomping closer Damn Bee sounds like the Andrews Sisters meeting up with Asleep At The Wheel. Actually, although MSP’s sense of humour is pretty much in tune and generally a strong suit for their raison-d’être, some of the satire is a little too knowingly funny, and among my own favourite tracks are the instrumentals and the “non-funnies” (the spirited Lead Me Now and the genial philosophical Kemble Mountain). And I just love the tasty, extra-special rhythm-section contributions from Dave Young (upright bass) and Bucky Burger (drums) on several of the tracks, while the disc’s production, by Canadian blues-roots legend Ken Whiteley, is spot-on.
If the idea of "meticulously crafted music that retains its intended cheeky sophistication" appeals to you, then so will My Sweet Patootie, who according to their website are "more fun than drinking martinis at a tractor pull" - and who am I to disagree?

David Kidman
- NetRhythms.co.uk


"Review: Patootified! My Sweet Patootie Easy Bake Records - EBR102"

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The more I listen to this duo, the more I'm minded of a certain amount of kindredness to the Asylum Street Spankers, as the levels of cleverness, acumen, lightheartedness, and sophisticated ways with melodies and lyrics never fail to delight and intrigue. Hell, all ya need do is glom the song titles to get an idea of what you're in for: Daddy Needs a New Tractor, Lollygagging, That Love Thing, etc. My Sweet Patootie is having an ongoing love affair with the glamors and mindset of earlier times—say, the 20s to the 50s—and, like the Spankers, wrap themselves around the era like a mink stole…in this case, with wheatstraw and hayseed.

The Patootie duo, however, is oft a good deal more serious than the Asylum gang, more prosaic, as This Old Quilt well demonstrates. The song could accompany a Norman Rockwell exhibition in Greenwich Village, and I mean that complimentarily, as ol' Normie, despite his Boy Scout / propaganda bent, was a master artist. Sandra Swannell takes on the lion's (er, lionesses'!) share of lead vocals while rasping a lively violin, with Terrence Young oft harmonizing and fingerpicking his guitar with élan and dexterity. The guy is a master of his craft, so catch the complicated patterns in lively tempo in Joyful Noise and other tracks. Young carries the lead spot vocally as well but not as often as Swannell. He's not bad at all, but she's better, so the decision was wise.

Patootified is not as ribald as their previous, Nowheresville (here), but it's just as elegant, perhaps more so for the steeped period flavorings, with Young's vocals helping tremendously on that count, especially during Coffee Bean, Swannell's backing vox simul-synched as a sort of one-woman Andrews Sisters behind him. Thus, o ye of the gentry and of less genteel origins, put on the spats, wax the moustache, and wrap a necklace of slinky pearls atop your amour's décolletage, then head for the speakeasy whence the meeting of Chicago, prairie, and working slobs have the gents 'n ladies suavely downing whiskey highballs and pitchers of beer in Fitzgeraldian backrooms letting out into Steinbeckian nights. - Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange


"My Sweet Patootie - Buzz Quote"

“Their playing and song writing is distinctively their own and is of a quality that is all too lacking on the contemporary music scene.” - Bill Garrett & Grit Laskin, Borealis Records


"My Sweet Patootie - Buzz Quote"

“Musical mayhem expertly played and executed by two outstanding musicians who no doubt will paint a grin on the longest faces with their good humoured and quirky songs.” - Shining Friends Roots Music England


"My Sweet Patootie Buzz Quote"

“My Sweet Patootie's new material is clever and unique in subject matter with catchy, playful and lively tunes. They provide a thrilling and very entertaining show.” - Lillian Wauthier, Acoustic Harvest Folk Club, Fiddles & Frets Music Productions


"My Sweet Patootie to debut at EPAC - February 18, 2010"

What do a guy with a glass eye, a yodeling hound and a homeless roadside evangelist have in common?
They're just a few of the off-beat residents of "Nowheresville," the amusing first album from the Canadian duo cheekily called My Sweet Patootie. The name may be unfamiliar to local music fans, but the faces (and talent) aren't: Fiddler Sandra Swannell and guitarist Terry Young were members of folk stalwarts Tanglefoot, who made annual visits to the Endicott Performing Arts Center over the past decade.
When Tanglefoot folded at the end of 2009, Young and Swannell decided to make their side project a full-time gig, and Saturday will see the new band's debut at EPAC.
Anyone expecting a Tanglefoot redux should think again, though. Although the two groups share a strong sense of humor, their musical styles are quite different. While Tanglefoot specialized in bombastic tales of Canadian history, My Sweet Patootie has more of a rural-meets-urban vibe that draws inspiration from swing music and Swannell's
skewed storytelling.
"There's a bit of rural grit in the things we do, some country colloquialisms that are smashed against uptown swing or city ideas," Young said in an interview with the duo earlier this month. "We like to think of our music as 'Green Acres'for the new millennium!'
For all of their joking around, Swannell and Young bring decades of hard-earned skill to the Patootie party. Swannell said that as a 4-year-old, "I'd go to kindergarten in the morning, and then in the afternoon I'd come home, put my pajamas on and practice violin all afternoon. That still sounds like my perfect day - except for the school part!"
For years, she straddled two worlds: classical and roots/rock music. While she worked as principal violist in the Georgian Bay Symphony Orchestra in Owen Sound, Ontario, she also played fiddle with a variety of bands and was a session player. She joined Tanglefoot in early 2006 as its first female musician, and that's where she found a kindred
spirit in Young, who shared her love of big bands and swinging country blues.
"I was one of those snotty-nosed kids who liked to sing every day walking home from school, jumping in puddles and stuff," Young said.
In high school, he joined rock bands but also took some classical training and listened to finger-style guitarists such as Bruce Coburn, John Prine and Chet Atkins. After earning a degree in classical voice from the University of Western Ontario, he worked full-time as a teacher and also played the "pub ghetto" scene around the Toronto area. He was 40 years old when Tanglefoot asked him to join and tour with them, so he made the leap of faith and
went out on the road with them for 11 years.
My Sweet Patootie - a term of endearment from the 1920s and '30s - sprang from a cute little tune called "Sweet Patootie Rag," which Young asked Swannell to help finish. That opened the door to a wider collaboration.
She and Young alternate lead vocals throughout the 14 tracks on "Nowheresville" and the themes reflect
the duo's back-to-the-land philosophy. On the sly "Gucci Gumboots," Swannell offers a plea to a city-
based lover to join her for a simpler life, and "Kemble Mountain" encourages climbing a notable Ontario landmark for a new perspective on life.
Some songs are just laugh-out-loud funny: A one-eyed guy named Guy buys a new glass eye in a toe-tapper called "The Marble," Swannell yodels like an unhappy pooch in "That Wailing Hound" and Young lends drama to the tale of woe from "The Dandiest of Dandelions." But it's "The Roadside Evangelist" - based on a homeless person that Swannell knew - that pulls from a more contemplative place.
Young and Swannell have laid the groundwork for a productive first year as My Sweet Patootie, lining up
shows throughout Canada and the United States; they'll even do a short tour of England. April is blocked out for recording the next album, with former Tanglefoot bandmate Bryan Weirmier as producer.
"We're chipping away, and we have our own little plan and things we'd like to accomplish," Swannell
said. "You gotta have a plan - otherwise you just sit around in your pajamas all day. Trust me, I know!"
"Yeah," Young added with a laugh, "me too!"
- Chris Kocher Press & Sun-Bulletin


"My Sweet Patootie Album Nowheresville"

After more than two decades, Canadian folk quintet Tanglefoot will quit touring at the end of 2009. Two band members though, will continue on as a new duo, cheekily titled My Sweet Patootie. Sandra Swannell (fiddle)and Terry Young (guitar) swap lead vocals and blend close harmonies on these 14 original folk and swing tunes, produced by Canadian roots legend Ken Whiteley. Tales about a guy seeking a glass eye ("The Marble"), a yodeling mutt ("That Wailing Hound"), or a forceful kiss-off ("You're Not the One") showcase the duo's sly humor, while "The Roadside Evangelist") finds sympathy for a homeless man. Kids discover a world of imagination in "The Box" only to grow up to inhabit office cubicles, and you'll never cut your lawn the same way again after the first-"person" story of woe from "The Dandiest of Dandelions."
Good stuff? You bet your...well, you know.
Chris Kocher - Dirty Linen Jul-Aug 2009


"Live Performance Review"

Last night we attended another brilliant chapter in the Knox Acoustic Café series. What a fantastic time! My Sweet Patootie is comprised of Sandra Swannell on fiddle, viola and vocals, and Terry Young on guitar, mandolin and vocals. Now, in case you’re thinking you’ve maybe heard those names before, you likely have - they’re also members of a band called Tanglefoot. Yeah, exactly. Imagine our glee! The sold-out room was packed to capacity, a brilliant way to begin this year’s string of shows.

I am understating when I say that this duo is extremely talented. Swannell sings clearly and beautifully in a voice that is ideal for these songs. Her instrumental work reminds me of seeing Diona Davies play with Carolyn Mark last November – perfectly supportive when the song requires it, and also able to step forward and lay down a solo that’ll make you drool. What a treat. And Young was all over the fretboard too, taking every guitar player in the room to school with runs, fills and licks that boggled the mind. He sings and plays with an exuberance and a smile on his face that is truly refreshing to see. These were musicians embracing the fun that makes music one of the greatest forces in our lives, even interspersing Flight Of The Bumblebee or Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy into their own tunes, and playing Willie Nelson’s Crazy on a 1919 Gibson mandolin.

Between songs the banter was light and fun, mostly tour and slice of life perspective stories that stem from that way of living which refuses to be dragged down by anything. But what impressed me most was just watching the two of them happily lose themselves in the music, such as on the instrumental Sweet Patootie Rag, or letting the audience in on their many lyrical gags with a sly wink and a grin that lets you feel an equal part of the whole thing. Some people play their whole lives trying and hoping to have a rapport like that, and these two did it effortlessly (although no one was fooled for one second into believing that anything but a ton of hard work has gone into this music).

And what do they sound like? Think of the guitar tracks on the Swing Kids soundtrack, mixed with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and filter it through genuine acoustic folk. Add thoughtful and humourous lyrics, et voilà. In other words, fantastic! It was announced from the stage last night that My Sweet Patootie is currently recording an album, apparently due to be released in the spring. I, for one, cannot wait. Keep your eyes peeled! And if you get a chance to see this duo perform, climb over every obstacle in your way and be there. This is a show you don’t want to miss.
- "Keeps Me Alive"


"My Sweet Patootie Album Patootified!"

Featuring two ex-members of Tanglefoot, Terry Young and Sandra Swannell, My Sweet Patootie take the essence of their former outfit and distill it into something that little stronger with it's own distinct flavour. "Patootified!" takes elements of western swing and old timey music that updates the flapper feel and gives it a real twenty first century pizazz. When you see songs with titles like "Lollygagging", "Coffee Bean" and "Fox & Possum", you know that you're headed for a blast from the past. Young And Swannell hit you with a delightful album with a hundred years in it's soul.
- Fatea Magazine UK


Discography

Patootified-2010 EBR 102
Produced by My Sweet Patootie & Bryan Weirmier
"Patootified!" takes elements of western swing and old timey music that updates the flapper feel and gives it a real twenty first century pizazz. Young And Swannell hit you with a delightful album with a hundred years in it's soul.
FATEA Magazine

Nowheresville- 2008 EBR 101
Produced by Ken Whiteley
"a world of string wizardry"- Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange (FAME)

Photos

Bio

“An act that's two parts exemplary musicianship and one part vaudeville comedy.” (Binghampton Pressconnects)

Terry Young and Sandra Swannell make up this Canadian duo who take “elements of western swing and old timey music that updates the flapper feel and gives it a real twenty first century pizazz. Young and Swannell hit you with a delightful sound with a hundred years in it's soul." (FATEA Magazine). With a fiddle, guitar and two voices My Sweet Patootie connects with people through humour and their joy of music and live performance.

Terry and Sandra have been playing together since 2006. Both are former members of retired Canadian Folk Music Award winning roots group Tanglefoot. While their swing style is a complete departure from Tanglefoot’s traditional sound, their stage show is packed with the same energy, wit and humour.

Although Sandra Swannell is a classically trained violin & violist, her style owes much more to folk, jazz and blues. Her diverse musical background ranges from recording with Canada’s legendary Stompin’ Tom Connors to writing a series of musical sketches for string orchestra during her tenure as principal violist of the Georgian Bay Symphony. Terry Young’s dexterity and aggressive approach to finger-style guitar is described as “virtuosic” by BBC critic James Harrox, and “jaw dropping” by Folk & Music Exchange. Terry is a classically trained tenor and holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario.

Since 2010, My Sweet Patootie has performed over 100 shows including theatres and festivals in Ontario, an Eastern seaboard tour through New York, Pennsylvania & Virginia, 2 Midwest tours including Mitch Podolak’s Manitoba HomeRoutes Tour, and a month long tour of England. They were guests on Rich Warren's nationally-syndicated WFMT Chicago “FolkStage” live-radio concert and WVBR Ithaca NY's “Bound-for-Glory” and released their second album, “Patootified!”.

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Influences: Chet Atkins, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Lyle Lovett
Eddie Lang & Joe Venuti, Merle Travis, Andrew
Sisters, Hank Williams, Johnny Gimble,
Hot Club de Paris
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Here's the "buzz"

“Musical mayhem expertly played and executed by two outstanding musicians who no doubt will paint a grin on the longest faces with their good humoured and quirky songs.”
Shining Friends Roots Music England

"Sandra’s seriously quicksilver flamboyance totally complements Terry’s flashily dextrous fingerpicking; they’re simply amazing, in other words!"
Net Rythms.co.uk

"You hear their positive happiness shine all over the place".
Eelco Schilder, FolkWorld

“These were musicians embracing the fun that makes music one of the greatest forces in our lives, even interspersing Flight of the Bumblebee or Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy into their own tunes. What impressed me most was just watching the two of them happily lose themselves in the music, then letting the audience in on their many lyrical gags with a sly wink and a grin that lets you feel an equal part of the whole thing. ”
Aaron Stewart, "Keeps Me Alive" Online forum