Omaha Swing-Rock Band Releases New Disc

(Reprinted from The [Omaha] Reader, March 2001)

by B.J. Huchtemann

Prairie Cats
‘Til the Daytime Fades (self-produced)

The Prairie Cats mix big doses of easy humor with sharp-pressed musicianship for a sound that’s still rooted in swing but can also embrace bopping jump blues riffs and even the occasional rockabilly shuffle like “One Night Stan.” These local kings of the swing scene, headed by Jeff Koterba, are still going strong despite the passing of swing from the trend spotlight. The band has toured and played nationally, including gigging at the legendary Los Angeles night spot the Brown Derby last summer.

Most of the clever, well-crafted original songs were written by Koterba and trombone player Jason Grotelueschen, either working separately or together. Song lyrics never take themselves too seriously and the uptempo tunes encourage listeners to forget their troubles and dance awhile.

The band struts the influence of gangster boppers and Los Angeles scene trailblazers Royal Crown Revue in some of their tom-tom-heavy, dance-crazy numbers like “Swing That Thing” and “Alley.” “Never Said” has the frenetic 1930s dance hall sound favored by another national favorite, the Squirrel Nut Zippers. In the midst of it all is the stripped-down minimalist ode, “Honeychild,” an easy, light-hearted tune that sounds Top-40-Radio-ready, with a horn chorus thrown in for good measure. The Cats also call on local legend Luigi Waites to add a distinctive marimba line to the cheerful “Rocketship.”

When they’re at their best, the Prairie Cats put down a sound that will find finger-popping favor with fans of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Royal Crown Revue and Squirrel Nut Zippers. The Prairie Cats celebrate the release of ‘Til the Daytime Fades with a big party at Sokol Hall on Sunday, April 1. It’s an all-ages show with curtain time of 6 p.m. NETV will be on hand, taping the show for inclusion in their “Backstage Pass” music performance program.

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