When he’s not acting in, producing or writing horror films, Niko Red Star is the bass player and band manager for the gypsy jazz, swing and Dixieland playing band The Southland Swing Band. Tonight, instead of packing away costumes and camera equipment, he packs up instruments after an incredible performance-ending rendition of “It don’t Mean a Thing” by Duke Ellington.
“Duke Ellington has a special little place in my heart,” he says. “I love his compositions. You can swing the crap right out of them. It starts getting people shaking their booty’s, getting drunk and it’s a lot of fun.”
Niko Red Star has been playing upright bass for nearly ten years, since around the time he arrived in Dallas.
“I’m from a wee little country town smack dab in the middle of California,” Niko says, pressing his thumb and forefinger together to emphasize the size after finishing casing the bass. “I guess fate and destiny brought me out here.”
The trained musician is multi-talented, receiving a scholarship at SMU where he completed a degree in classical music. Now, he has had The Southland Swing Band together for around two years. Niko Red Star and his band swing their way around Dallas as much as they can with a small band and large band. Tonight, Niko brought out his small group.
“At times we actually have a full horn section with three horns, a saxophone, trombone and clarinet,” Niko says.
Their audience is generally very receptive. It’s good music and makes people happy. People want to dance to it and so do they, though tonight the small crowd seems preoccupied and few people are dancing.
“We get a lot of swing dancing because this is all time drinking music,” Niko Red Star says.