"Bob Wills is the King, but a long line of Bob Wills impersonators only memorialize a legend, just like a long list of Elvis impersonators. In his day, Bob was known as an "innovator", one who pushed the limits, thought outside the box, brought in new elements to the music, and that is what the public loved about Bob. Bob competed against Glenn Miller, Bennie Goodman and other top bands of the day and came out on top. Why, because he was different, the music was the same, but how it was done was totally Bob. Today, the Uptown Drifters are following in those footsteps to bring Western Swing to today's standards, to bring in new audiences, not to merely bask in the past. Without bands like the Uptown Drifters, Western Swing will merely languish in its past glory to smaller and smaller audiences. If you like Western Swing and want to see and hear what Bob would be doing if he were alive today, get a CD or catch a live show. Bob Wills was an "original", something that is lacking in Western Swing, and as Johnny Gimble said "if you copy someone else, then who is going to copy you".
Director of the Academy of Western Artists
Leader of Western Swing Swing Promotions for over 21 years
The Uptown Drifters emerged on the North Texas music scene in 2012. Drawing on a common love of swing music, these musicians have excited crowds with their “feel good” music that takes its listeners on a fun journey through multiple genres and eras of Americana music. Using a strong anchoring rhythm to provide a platform for some of the area’s most talented soloists, this flowing beat begs the dancer in all of us to join in. Two step to country, lindy hop to big band or groove to New Orleans dixieland.
The band’s beginning arose almost out of necessity. After crossing paths a month earlier, band manager Jim Turner asked lead fiddler Brook Wallace Deaton to fill in for a gig in Arlington. The show quickly morphed from Texas Country to Country Swing. Everyone agreed that this needed to happen again. Soon after, Brook suggested adding saxophonist Jon Stutler. This trio immediately began making magic. The final addition of Nathan Phelps on the upright bass filled out what would become the nucleus of the band.
The popularity of The Uptown Drifters extends beyond the listener as the band has become a very popular group for other area musicians when an expanded version of the band is needed. This flexibility becomes evident by the addition of drums, piano and steel guitar for a night of Western Swing. Add a horn section and piano, and you have an enjoyable evening of vintage swing jazz.
The group, along with their most recent CD “Recollections In Swing”, were both nominated by the Association of Western Artists for 2016’s Western Swing Group of the Year and Album of the Year.