Saneteachers’ Barb Harvey-Knowles is thrilled to land an interview with Swahoogie, a New York City area rock band who will be performing at the upcoming Pleasantville Music Festival.
As music fans from around the tri-state area are looking forward to the 15th Pleasantville Music Festival on July 13th, I’d like to highlight the band Swahoogie, and the talent behind the music. So join me in welcoming singer Tom Krouskoff, guitarist Scott Kubrin, and keyboardist Larry Gardner from the Rock ‘n Roll band Swahoogie.
BHK: What can you share not only with your fans, but also with this broader audience about the Pleasantville Music Festival?
Tom: It is a mind-blowing honor for us to be part of the Pleasantville Music Festival on the same bill as Everclear, Soul Asylum, Aimee Mann and Matthew Sweet!! This is the 15th year of the festival and each year they do an awesome job of keeping the music and good times going all day long. When the lineup was announced last month I received messages from people I hadn’t seen in years who were surprised Swahoogie was still playing, let alone performing at PMF. It’s an incredible opportunity for us. Every summer Pleasantville puts on a great concert with artists I have listened to on the radio for years. It’s a special day for sure. All the people involved with organizing it do a fantastic job.
BHK: If you had to sum up what Swahoogie is about, how would you define it?
Scott: We constantly joke around about the “Swahoogian” way of life. When in reality since we got together after many years of not playing, the sole focus was to go out and have a great time together. We recently played a show and someone posted on social media how they heard someone say “look how much fun these guys are having together” and that really stuck with me.
Tom: I agree with Scott that we are having a lot of fun. Every time we play I feel like I am a teenager again getting that one opportunity to hang with my friends and do what we love. Swahoogie has always been about connection with friends and people you love. There is a lot of laughter, but also playing together has helped us through hard times.
Scott: To give you an example, in 2015 my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was a professional musician and used to come see me play with Tom when I was a teenager. A few months after we got Swahoogie back together my dad flew up from Florida even though he was in pretty rough shape. That night was one I will always remember. There were a lot of friends there that he had known since I was young, and he had the chance to see me play live for the first time in more than twenty years. Swahoogie became very therapeutic for me during that time.
BHK: I understand, Scott, that you had to face another personal crisis and that being in Swahoogie had a powerful effect on you. Can you share a little of that story?
Scott: Sure. Five months after my father passed, I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. The band shut down while I had months of treatment and moved into the hospital for a stem cell transplant. On April 7, 2017 we played the “Scotty Kidd Ain’t Dead Yet” show. The turnout was unreal. More love in the room than one man deserves and it was a pivotal moment for me where I saw what we offer to people and how much it comes back to us. There is a real family vibe and we all look forward to seeing each other and having an amazing time together.
BHK: That sounds like a wonderful night. How are you feeling now?
Scott: Thanks to daily Swahoogicilian infusions and the help of great doctors my cancer is now undetectable.
BHK: That’s great. Another awesome impact of Swahoogie!
BHK: How do you choose the songs that you wish to perform at your various venues?
Scott: In addition to a steady flow of music that Tom brings to the band there are other musicians and guests that are part of a constant expanding group of friends. Along with that, we try to integrate covers into what is mostly a setlist based on original music. So we will learn new songs and rotate them within a set list. We generally will not make major adjustments based on venue. Our crowd is extremely loyal and we know who we are playing to.
Tom: And of course, everyone loves when Gabi, Nancy and Terry come up and join us at different times during the night.
BHK: You mentioned “a steady flow of music.” How has Swahoogie evolved over the years?
Scott: Strangely enough the music has always been a constant work in progress. Songs Tom wrote that we worked on 25 years ago are still a part of our setlists. I think the delivery is what has changed. I’ve known Tom since I was 17 and his style in writing and who influences him hasn’t really gone in different directions. We generally share the same opinion on song structure and what’s appropriate. What has changed is the way a person in their 20s presents it compared to someone in their 50s. With age and wisdom we have learned to appreciate the art of “less is more” so we tend to take a little more time to keep songs stripped down which helps us focus on how the song should be structured. That or maybe we are just old and patient.
BHK: Swahoogie has a hard core fan base that has been following the band for years. And now you also have a core of new fans attending your concerts, listening to your music and buying your CDs. To what do you attribute this?
Tom: There was a long stretch when Swahoogie shows were very rare. We would get a version of the band together every four or five years. When Swahoogie re-formed in 2015 everything just fell into place. Things have just been building since then. We have friends who remember us from the earlier days, and we now have a whole new Swahoogie family who enjoy what we are doing and are hearing our songs for the first time. We are so grateful to everyone who comes out to a show, buys our songs, or shares Swahoogie with friends. It’s an incredible feeling hearing people singing along when we play.
BHK: It seems like Port Chester, NY is now your home base for most shows.
Tom: It’s funny because in the 90s in addition to playing in Manhattan we often played Marty’s in Port Chester with Uncle Swahoogie. Now when we play Garcia’s or Rye House all these years later I feel our Port Chester roots.
BHK: I realize people don’t buy music from the record store like we used to. Do you sell a lot of music online?
Tom: Because of streaming services, we are able to get our music out to a much wider audience than I ever could have imagined. There are people streaming Swahoogie in Canada, Denmark and Australia! Unfortunately, the royalties from streaming don’t cover the cost of recording, but it’s still wild to think someone on the other side of the world is grooving to our songs.
BHK: Larry, you joined Swahoogie last year as their new keyboardist. As someone who is a more recent addition to the band, what is it like being in Swahoogie?
Larry: I have played numerous genres including jazz, blues, fusion, big band, rock and R&B and I can say that it’s not musical complexity that makes a great band but the energy and emotion delivered to an audience. This is where Swahoogie shines. The good vibes of all of the band’s musicians deliver a feel good experience which is addictive. That is a recipe for a good band and I’m honored to be a contributing part of this.
BHK: I have been a fan for a few years and it is wonderful to speak with you and hear your backstory. I can’t wait to hear Swahoogie at the Pleasantville Festival.
Swahoogie will be performing at Garcia’s at the Capitol Theatre this Thursday, June 6, 2019 and on the main stage at the Pleasantville Music Festival July 13, 2019 at 1:40 PM. For more information about the Pleasantville Music Festival click here
You can also visit Swahoogie at http://www.swahoogie.com