The White Ghost Shivers are a tall-glass, ho-dunk Cajun fire to warm the chills from cold bones. The hokum jazz band is originally from Austin, Tex. and is taking a road trip up to Madison’s own High Noon Saloon tonight to bring a sound rarely heard these days.
Founded in the late ‘90s, the White Ghost Shivers is a collaboration of Weston Borghesi and Jeremy “smoke break” Slemenda. The two were novices to the world of jazz and swing and barely knew how to play their instruments when they got the idea to form a band together.
Even the band’s name, “White Ghost Shivers,” was decided upon hours before their first show. Somehow, they managed to gather a mismatched crew with one thing in common.
“We all happened to find a love for the music,” Borghesi said.
Today, this modern day Cajun swing band is excited to take a new look on music from the past and bring it to young ears.
“Pretty much all of [the WGS band members] grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Borghesi explained.
When they were teens, punk rock and grunge composed the mainstream music scene. So much of White Ghost Shivers’ energy is pulled from the members’ punk rock roots, and tied in with early jazz music from the 1920s and ‘30s.
Despite the band’s decision to feature many old timey themes, they throw away the intimacy of backdoor “hillbilly mountain music” normally stigmatized with that genre and inject the intense power from those punk backgrounds. The result is an incredibly unique sound, where White Ghost Shivers promises to energize the audience and bring listeners back to those sweet days of western swing.
Borghesi defines the band as, “A party band; where the crowd gets involved and the band gets involved with the crowd.”
Risible antics and stage slapstick is key to the WGS stage presence. Band members take up completely different characters that live out their own stories on live stage. From feathery hats to flash suspenders, characters like the WGS’s own sultry stage mistress Cella Blue or the seven foot Shorty Stump — which is Borghesi in disguise — go through fights, love affairs and sometimes even let fits of swing take over their hips as they kick and dance around the stage. Borghesi promises audience members will easily get swept away with the jukebox fun.
Truly the number one reason to go check out this band is because of its music. The White Ghost Shivers will be taking listeners on a journey through the many moods of swing. On this journey, its music can quickly transform audience members from fresh and hearty speakeasy tunes to the dark and gritty sound that takes you to the dark back-alleys of New Orleans jazz.
At the show, people should come to expect songs such as “Everyone’s Got’em,” a fast-paced razzmatazz song with whistle toots, hopping beats from a double bass, spicy tweets from a clarinet and the lively strum of a banjo.
“Everyone’s Got’em,” is also a great original song from the band’s origins including their band name which comes from a song by the New Orleans Owls called, “White Ghost Shivers.”
The White Ghost Shivers is an illustrious modern day experience coming straight from the era of the prohibition. The band with deep roots from every corner of the south is going to be the warm music sensation to shake our winter chills.
One of Austin’s top bands, White Ghost Shivers, at the High Noon Saloon tonight at 8 p.m., and fall in love with a sound Wisconsinites rarely hear. Tickets are $10.