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It's Eight to the Bar, and You on the Dancefloor

She rules the band as a "benign dictator," and it works.

Eight to the Bar. Credit: submitted
Eight to the Bar. Credit: submitted
Cynthia Lyon, a singer originally from New Haven, had recently graduated in 1975 and decided to start a swing band called Eight to the Bar. Thirty years later, and this band is still kicking, packing in the venues and with 11 recordings under its belt. 

Patch talked with Lyon, who brings the band to the area this weekend. 

Narragansett-Northkingstown Patch: Do people usually dance at your shows? 

Cynthia Lyon: Absolutely. It's a swing dance (but non-swing dancers are very welcome)

NP: What's the latest with Eight to the Bar? New members? New music coming out? 

CL: We have just hired a fantastic new guitar player/singer named Chris Leigh. He is the director of the Mystic Blues Festival and plays all styles of guitar, including slide guitar. Also, we are working on our 12th CD, tentatively titled "That Man." It's a wonderful mix of swing, jump blues, and jazz-inspired vocally oriented mostly original material. We expect it to be out by this winter.

NP: Let's say someone hasn't heard/seen your band before. You tell them it's a cross between.....? 

CL: Someone said it was a cross between the Andrews Sisters and James Brown!

NP: Live music is a tough racket these days. How does a band such as Eight to the Bar survive? 

CL: We have been a full-time band since 1975. We survive because we've been around for so long that we have lots of deep-rooted connections that continue and also we travel a lot so that makes for lots of different places to play from Florida to Maine to the West Coast (and occasionally abroad).

NP: The band is on the large side. Well, it's big. How do you keep everyone getting along? There are three-pieces who split up in less than five years because of personality conflicts. What's the secret? 

CL: The band generally gets along because I'm a benign dictator and when I hire people I tell them what the concept of the band is and that they need to stick with it. So far, it's worked. 

NP: You've opened for some pretty big names. You get a chance to open for any act around - who do you pick? 

CL: Actually, most headliners bring their own opening act so they're not looking for another band to open for them.

Eight to the Bar headlines on Thursday, June 12, at The Towers in Narragansett. The show goes from 7-10 p.m. 

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