There is a cut-away in the theatrical trailer for the benchmark 1956 motion picture "Rock Around The Clock," starring Bill Haley and the Comets, where a man asks a girl who is shaking and nearly upside down, "Hey sister, what do you call that exercise you're all doing." The girl, who is in the throes of the moment and beside herself with jumping beans banging around in her body, proudly responds, "It's rock and roll, brother, and we're rocking tonight!" It was a movie that, along with "The Ed Sullivan Show" - which broadcast Elvis Presley's first performance later that same year, was one of the chief catalysts for breaking the idea of rock and roll to households across America that had never seen such a spectacle before, had never witnessed the live power of music that was getting a good name with the devil. The interesting aspect of this rock and roll revolution is that the music that was featured in that movie and what was described as the sound that all the "cats" were listening to was drastically different from what would be deemed rock and roll these days. The rock and roll these days, though, isn't at all what interests one 20-something and two of her teenage siblings, along with their accomplished and debonair father and mother as they make music until the name Kitty, Daisy & Lewis. A movie like "Rock Around The Clock," is the one that would get played to death in the Durham household in North London and it's that clean guitar, no holds barred approach to melodies and rhythms that will absolutely make anyone listening want to walk across a dance floor and hook up with a partner to waltz or foxtrot or just swing close for as long as the night is relatively young.
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis sink their teeth into a potpourri of timeless musical standards and create many of their own, digging into their deep bag of tricks to blur the lines between every known living and half-dead genre, resurrecting them and melding them into an intoxicating drink. It's one that, when imbibed, will automatically and with no perceptible time lapse, turn you and the clothing that you were wearing into grays, blacks and whites. It will rid you of the colors that you used to have and warp you back into an era that had to be widely imagined through the curved screen of a gray-scaled television set. It will make you drunk again on all of the sounds that you have heard for decades and decades - sounds that are twice and three times as old as you are - but then again, you've not heard them like this, so new and so invigorated. These are young adults, really, latching into styles, harmonies and perceptions that were already becoming unpopular when the baby boomers were still sucking their thumbs and wetting their beds. These are the sounds of great grandparents and even great, great grandparents, coming to us from a new angle, where the sugary sorrows have different meaning and needing to escape from the tribulations of difficult lives before you're too beat down and out is something of an epidemic. We're reminded of the vacant and longing reasons why Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway look across the water at the East Egg. We're reminded of the effervescence of youth. And we're reminded of depression and bringing everything back together, into a salvageable glory, when the nights lights start popping out of the dark and dancing shoes are everywhere. It's a spirit that's alive and you can hear the band - Kitty, Daisy & Lewis - warming up somewhere up ahead.
*Essay originally published December, 2009