The 1930s were halcyon days for Swing music, but not just for the likes of big bands like Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Lunceford, and the Dorsey Brothers. There were literally hundreds of small Swing combos from trios to octets, each with its own unique take on the music that dominated the market during the height of the Great Depression. The list of artists who led small combos include Tiny Grimes, Slim Galliard, Billie Holiday, and Fats Waller. In addition to these groups, several important vocal harmony groups were also active on the scene, including the Cats and the Fiddle, the Mills Brothers, the Ink Spots, and the Spirits of Rhythm. Evolving out of New Orleans jazz and ragtime stylings, Swing music was fueled by the improvisational and rhythmic innovations of soloists like Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins. It remains primarily dance music.  

Ironically, Benny Goodman, the White bandleader dubbed by the media as the “King of Swing,” couldn’t have been further from the roots of the music he played. Most of the musicians who pioneered what we call “Swing” recorded “race records,” recordings primarily marketed to and for Black Americans. Yet, this vibrant, joyous, celebratory, bawdy, and irreverent music clearly made its way into mainstream American culture and featured some of the first examples of racial integration. To his credit, Goodman was the first to integrate his band for general audiences, adding guitar great Charlie Christian among others to his roster.  
At the time, vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, Jazz, and Blues idioms intermingled with Swing to create interesting and novel incarnations.

Some of those Blues and Swing cross-pollinations occurred at the Bluebird label, a subsidiary of RCA Victor, with the recordings of Tampa Red, Washboard Sam, and Big Bill Broonzy. According to music critic Jas Obrecht, “following the pop trends of the day, releases by Tampa Red and the Chicago Five, a studio band with guitar, piano, string bass, and clarinet and kazoo (later replaced by sax and trumpet), were aimed at tavern jukeboxes.” These sides featured the raw, improvisatory energy of the best Swing, but also featured elements from Blues, Hokum, and Jug band traditions, with the associated sexual innuendo of its double entendre lyrical content.  

The Smack Dabs’ sound is influenced by a mélange of musical styles. The band gets its instrumental configuration from Tampa Red and his Chicago Five, improvisational vitality from the small Black Swing combo, and swagger from risqué Blues. The Smack Dabs celebrate the bawdy, joyous, inclusive character of this music and is dedicated to honoring those who made it great.  

References: Obrecht, Jas. "Tampa Red: The Guitar Wizard." Living Blues #239, October 2015, pp. 34-39.