Paul Anastasio & The Swing Cats
The Swing Cats
We are prowling boldly into the future, offering an ever-widening array of esoteric music - swing violin, Western swing, Cajun fiddling, old-time fiddling, Mexican regional string band music and vintage country. Our little enterprise is growing, but our goal remains the same. Simply put, we strive to offer you nothing less than the finest music we can find. Before we release a recording we don't ask ourselves, "how commercial is it?" or "how much money can we make?" We are musicians. We care passionately about good music, and because we do care, the only question we ask ourselves is, "is this really great music - music that communicates heart to heart and soul to soul?" That is, after all, what music should be about. We believe in what we're doing. We really feel that by bringing great music to a receptive audience we are helping in our own small way to make the world a better place.
Paul Anastasio began studying the violin at age nine. Initially classically trained, he soon began exploring the worlds of American popular and folk music, performing as part of a bluegrass band and competing in fiddle contests while still in his teens. He soon found himself distracted from fiddle hoedowns by the hot sounds of swing violin and western swing fiddling. In the mid-1970s Paul had the good fortune to meet the great jazz violinist Joe Venuti. Joe regularly invited Paul to perform with him on stage in a Seattle club. Paul only found out later that he had had the distinct honor of being the only student ever invited to study at Joe's home in Seattle. After Joe's death Paul continued an intensive study of Venuti's style, and today he is considered one of the foremost authorities on Venuti's passionate, swinging approach to jazz violin.
At about the same time Paul began his studies with Joe, he began working on the road in the band of country music legend Merle Haggard. This was to be the first of several jobs he would work with top western swing and country music bands including Asleep at the Wheel, Larry Gatlin and Loretta Lynn. After performing in all fifty states, traveling over a million miles on band buses and eating in truck stops for the better part of ten years, he decided that he had enjoyed as much as he could stand and returned to his native Pacific Northwest.
Today Paul is considered not only a fine performer but a respected popular music historian as well, as he has spent over thirty years seriously studying the role of the violin in American popular music. He has had the opportunity to study informally with the best fiddlers on the music scene, including country and western swing legends Cliff Bruner, Joe Holley, Johnny Gimble and Buddy Spicher. He is in great demand as an instructor at summer music camps throughout the U.S. and Canada, is Review Editor and writes a regular column for Fiddler Magazine and teaches privately as well.
For the past twelve years Paul has been consumed with the intensive study of the remarkable music of southwestern Mexico's Tierra Caliente. He had made over twenty trips to Mexico to study with the top folk violinists, and is currently arranging this unique repertoire for small string ensembles and presenting it on the concert stage.