Neither a traditional swing band nor a rock 'n' roll group, the Budinskis are making musical strides.
The Budinskis are a swank quartet composed of rock 'n' roll veterans who give the popular swing sound a good swift kick in the trousers and veil their musical pasts behind fake names. The band plays and records solely for fun and harbors no illusions about making it big.
Not that each member hasn't been down that road before.
Drummer Tim Mohn (Archie Budinski) hammered his way through Kill Whitey, Stick and Grither and currently owns and operates a music store in Emporia.
Vocalist and guitarist Tiger Marion (Dagwood Budinski) is former manager of Red House recording studio and current member of Let's Rodeo. Guitarist Jon Niccum (Sir Hilary Budinski) is a veteran of the bands Groovehead and Easterday and currently music editor of The Pitch Weekly newspaper.
Bassist Jeffrey Drake (Dexter-Sloan Budinski) earned his musical chops during the 1980s with Lawrence band The Answer and is currently the managing editor of The Pitch Weekly.
Each member is all too familiar with the grittier side of touring, promotion (or lack of) and the business of record companies.
The band started a year and a half ago, on a whim, when Marion and Niccum worked up a swing-inspired rock 'n' roll version of "My Funny Valentine" for Mohn's wedding reception. The version was smooth, but with a rough edge, and sounded very original.
Mohn, Marion and Niccum soon enlisted the help of Drake, and the new band started writing songs.
"When we got together, we didn't have an exact idea of what it was going to become," Marion said. "We just kept practicing and writing. The next thing you know, it was this rock band playing swing music."
Before long, four once-jaded musicians were loading up their equipment for short jaunts into Kansas City, opening up for bands like the Dave Stephens Swing Quartet.
Riding a fence between the swing and rock 'n' roll worlds, the band has opened for everyone from suited swing bands to surf bands to a disco band.
"Traditional swing people and traditional rock people might say, 'I don't get it.' It's somewhere in-between," Marion said.
The Budinskis keep the swing element cooking with smooth vocals while the traditional horn parts are replaced with guitar.
"When you think of a swing band, you think of a big band with tons of horns and stuff, but we're doing it as a rock four-piece with two guitars, bass and drums," Niccum explained.
After recording a two-song demo tape, the band received good feedback from friends in the music industry, but the band immediately put them off.
"I told them, 'Don't even think about it'," said Marion. "We've seen it a million times before -- someone is in a band that they really love, then the band starts taking it more seriously, starts doing it for a living, then starts to despise it. They despise the band and each other. We're all pretty comfortable in our lives now ... it's really not worth the sacrifice."
Whether they like it or not, the Budinskis have found a measure of success already. In addition to playing more shows in both Lawrence and Kansas City, the group's demo tape has received regular airplay on KLZR-FM 105.9.
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