The Dirty Honkers jazz up Berlin with a new take on swing | Music | DW | 18.02.2011
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The Dirty Honkers jazz up Berlin with a new take on swing

Not only has the electrified neo-swing melange of international trio Dirty Honkers spiced up the music scene in Berlin, their sound is bopping dance enthusiasts in Paris, London and New York 'til they drop.

The swinging Dirty Honkers know how to liven up a party

The swinging Dirty Honkers know how to liven up a party

Swing started making a comeback years ago, with people dancing in clubs around the world to the can't-sit-still beats. Young people in particular have been celebrating the sounds of the 1930s in metros across Europe and the United States, bringing back classic dance moves and fashion get-ups.

The Berlin-based band Dirty Honkers are right there with them. The trio bring an infectious mix of swing, hip-hop, calypso and even Balkan beats to the stage. After forming in fall 2009, they recently self-released their first album, "Death by Swing."

Musical cartoons

Rapper Gad Hinkis

Rapper and producer Gad Hinkis

It's not just the name of the band or the titles of the songs, but also their penchant for comics and cartoons that reflect the group's sense of fun - silly, slapstick surprises are found across the CD's nine tracks.

The Dirty Honkers' concerts are also peppered with gags and black humor, but it's their electrified and electrifying sounds that keep sending people to the dance floor - in hole-in-the-wall Berlin pubs, but also in London, Paris and New York clubs.

It could also be their international flair that's a magnet for crowds. Canadian singer Andrea Robert and French saxophonist Florent Mannant landed in Berlin four years ago and have since played with the legendary Les Haferflocken Swingers - a group that jazzed up the now flourishing Berlin neo-swing scene around the turn of the millennium. Rapping and singing DJ and producer Gad Hinkis of Israel got together with Andrea and Florent to form Dirty Honkers after moving to Berlin in 2009.

And the swing goes on…


Trio Dirty Honkers contrasted against bright yellow background

The Berlin-based trio hails from three different countries, but not from Germany

Swing was a style of jazz that started out in the 1930s, but later moved away from its African-American roots as rock and punk musicians integrated swing and boogie-woogie elements into their own sounds.

The neo- or electro-swing movement that started in the 1990s knows few stylistic or geographical boundaries. Bands like the Dirty Honkers are the proof. And the group, like the well-networked movement itself, isn't likely to fade anytime soon - due to the mixability of the music with other styles and sounds, as well as to the upbeat attitude of the young, party-hungry swing crowd.

After all, in Gad Hinski's view, dancing to swing means dancing as a couple, and that's what all swing musicians want - people out boogeying together on the dance floor.

Author: Katrin Wilke / als

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