The Marshall Ford Swing Band has been called “the perfect Austin, Texas musical experience”—high praise in a city known for its music. Named after the dam that created Austin’s Lake Travis, the band channels the breezy spirit of classic western swing where “the wisdom is in the songs.”
The Marshall Ford Swing Band coalesced when songwriter-guitarist Greg Harkins attended a music camp run by legendary western swing fiddler Johnny Gimble of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys fame. There he met pianist and singer Emily Gimble, Johnny’s granddaughter. For over a decade, they have played as a quartet with upright bassist Kristopher Wade and drummer James Gwyn, gaining recognition as one of the nation’s premier western swing ensembles. At the 77th National Folk Festival, Marshall Ford will be joined by one of their mentors, Austin legend and Asleep At The Wheel alumnus, fiddler Danny Levin.
Western swing is a uniquely American style that became wildly popular in the 1940s, fusing country string band music and old-time fiddle traditions with the big band jazz of the era. With classic “hot fiddling” and rhythmic syncopation mixed with their playful vocals and skillful improvisation, the Marshall Ford Swing Band brings the spirit of the great western swing bands of the past into the 21st century.
The presentation of the Marshall Ford Swing Band at the 2017 National Folk Festival is made possible by the generous support of Frank and Lindsey Auman.