March 20, 2013 issue

Arts & Entertainment

Long ago tropical nights and
‘Sweet Trouble’

Bernard Heydorn
Sweet Trouble, a high energy band, is one of the delights that we experience on South Padre Island in Texas. We are fortunate that a number of talented musicians and bands swing through this resort area and entertain old and young alike, year round.
Karen Laughlin and her group Sweet Trouble have made fans in many of the places that they have played. Performing a variety of music from pop, rock, country, the blues, hip hop and more, the band is known for its

versatility. They certainly know how to rock! The band comprises Karen, vocalist who also plays harmonica, trumpet, keyboard, bass, flute, drums and various percussion instruments; Andy Heimsoth, guitarist and vocalist; Daron Rogan, bass guitar; Taci Rooker, keyboard, and JR Carroll, drums.

Karen Laughlin and her Sweet Trouble Band
The band plays casinos, clubs, conventions, shows, dances, hotels, resorts, private parties and functions. If you check their website, you can look at their extensive play list and get a taste of their music. Their home base is in Missouri but they are rarely at home.
Karen moves and sings; Andy belts out the blues sandwiched with some hard rock; Daron is so involved with playing the bass, digging deep, his facial expression at times seems to be more like contemplating a root canal; JR Carroll keeps the beat grounded in the drums; and Taci Rooker takes off on flights of fancy on the keyboard. All in all, they gel well together.
Karen's blue eyes sparkle as she hits the stage and reaches out to the audience with a friendly, winning smile. She slips into a song like Willie Nelson's “Crazy” and the floor is soon filled. In her trademark short skirts and fishnet tights, she has led the way in wooing the Midwest and South where the band plays most often. I tell you there is many a guy dreaming of being caught in a fishnet!
John showing Vivienne some rumba moves
The audience is eclectic – from crazy college students raring to let off steam at March Break, to the more sedate 91-year old John from Illinois who slips in for some of the shows. John is from the old school of music – the big band era of World War Two. Born in the 1920's, he graduated from high school in the 30's. Coming from Westchester, New York, he played slide trombone in big bands including the Grenadiers, until he signed up for the Navy in 1941 in World War Two.
He said that the big band musicians in his day all knew how to read music. The bands had a 3 – 3 – 4 composition: 2 altos and one tenor sax; 2 trumpets and one trombone; and 4 in the rhythm section – drums, upright bass, rhythm guitar (the only electrical instrument) and piano. There was also a vocalist. John learned to sing and later in life he said that he also learned to dance.
Symphony and marching bands were also popular at that time. He saw big bands like Paul Whiteman – King of Jazz and his 30-piece band; Benny Goodman, King of Swing; the Dorsey Brothers, and Guy Lombardo from Canada whom he considers one of the greats.
Jazz, he said, came up from New Orleans via Memphis, St. Louis, and Chicago. The word “jazz”, according to John, originated in the brothels of New Orleans and means the sex act. With regard to ballroom dancing, he indicated that in his day in the United States and Europe, the man lead off with his right foot and not the left foot, as is often the practice today.
John was happy to show my wife some of his rumba moves as Karen and the band played the sultry Neon Moon. Later in the evening, things got more hot, smoky and funky and John retreated to his chambers.
My wife and I stayed for a while remembering our youth and hot tropical nights, dancing under the stars in the islands of the Caribbean. Sweet Trouble and the Isla Grand Hotel on South Padre Island brought back some of those memories.
Karen and her band would love to take you for a spin if they are playing in your vicinity. Unlike many “rock” bands, Sweet Trouble does not dislocate your ear drums. Sweet Trouble can be seen on their website and email: If the creeks don't rise and the snows don't blow, I will be seeing you back in Canada.
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