The South by Southwest Music Festival is quickly approaching and one creative band that will be in the mix is The White Ghost Shivers. Two band members, Jeremy Slemenda, and Cella Blue were able to talk via phone about their band’s unique approach to music that includes vaudeville, jazz, and swing. They are elated to be playing again in Austin this year, and promise to put on a great show for their fans.
Describe your sound in your own words.
Jeremy: We are a mix of hot jazz, western swing, and vaudeville. The jazz blues element is obvious at our live shows and sets us a part from other bands. We are a total entertainment package; we put together shows that we would want to see.
Cella Blue: When I think of the band, I believe we show great musicianship.
How did your band form?
Jeremy: I met “Shorty” eleven years ago in Austin, hanging out at a western swing show. We started talking and realized that we wanted to put out some old music with a twist from our generation. We were a string band for five years, and then added some players. “Cella Blue”, was our missing link.
What are your musical influences?
Jeremy: I am going to say western swing, Bob Wills, Bob Dunn & The Brownies, metal, and punk rock.
How did you come up with your band name?
Jeremy:Our band name was actually a song by the New Orleans Owls. We always had these songs that were dark, and one of our founding members no longer with us, introduced us to the name.
What's your biggest vice?
Cella Blue: Clothes and costuming are my favorites! I love to dress in elaborate costumes, and readily have an abundance of wigs and hats to adorn my wardrobe.
What's in your festival survival kit?
Cella Blue: I will have plenty of noisemakers, lipstick, plenty of business cards, and a wig or too.
Who was your first celeb crush?
Cella Blue: My favorite crush period is with theatre. I love silent films and musicals. I am so excited that I was able to include theatre performance in our shows. When I first saw the White Ghost Shivers and listened to their music, I felt this would enhance their stage presence. In other words, they needed a skirt.
Jeremy: Taylor Swift.
What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?
Cella Blue:We were in Berlin and realized they have no clocks--anywhere. I seriously mean in hotels, airports, bookstores, or cafes. Moreover, nothing ever closes.
What are your plans for SXSW?
Jeremy: We plan to have a good time. The band has been a part of SXSW for years. We will be playing at the Salvage Vanguard Theatre for a few nights. Garnering more attention for White Ghost Shivers is on the calendar and enjoying the fest.
The White Ghost Shivers will be performing all over the country after their performances in Austin, Texas. Check out their website for performances in your area.
Listen to their music right here: White Ghost Shivers.
View White Ghost Shivers on YouTube: White Ghost Shivers
White Ghost Shivers Biography
White Ghost Shivers are a unique modern band that assembled in 1999 in Austin, Texas, with the help of founding members Jeremy Slemenda and Westen Borghesi. They met at a western swing event and started chatting about their musical interests, both were working odd jobs to survive, and the rest is history.
Every member in the band brings a creative allure that is to die for on-stage. According to their website in the beginning, White Ghost Shivers started to play string-band tunes, writing songs, and eventually were booked for a few gigs. At first, playing acoustic instruments sitting down seemed quirky to the group members. They decided to stand up when they entertained their audiences; now it is a tradition.
After much practice, their careers took a ride for the best, and landed a weekly happy hour spot at Beerland in Austin, TX. In 2002, White Ghost Shivers started recording in the studio producing hits including “My Gal”, “Delores” and their version of “Tell it to Me”, not to mention they started picking up more instruments to include in their music.
The modern creative band then went on to see prominence in the industry and was able to add new members to the group and theatre performances to their acts. The band members have very inquisitive names including Cella Blue, Duchess Doyle, Shorty Stump, Hot Thomas, Smokebreak Slemenda, and Poppiticus.
White Ghost Shivers have seen members come and go, but their goals have always exceeded their expectations. To date they have recorded five albums. The band has received numerous accolades and awards from Austin Chronicle's Austin Music Awards. Their personal website states, in the March 2006 issue of St. Louis, KDHX named the White Ghost Shivers one of the top 10 most important acts playing SXSW 2006.
Interview by kYmberly Keeton