Special: Citizen Swing

Myles Kennedy and Citizen Swing

Although Myles Kennedy is currently know as the lead singer of both Alter Bridge and Slash's band, in addition to performing with Kings of Chaos and recently have participated in the new Gov't Mule's album - Shout! -, his activity in the music world began very early.

One of his former bands was Citizen Swing, an alternative-rock band that was active form 1992 to 1996.

Honoring this genius of the music world, recalling the beginnings of his career, and providing access to fans that have not known this side of Myles, we have prepared a special feature about the band, talking about important facts, with some live shows' videos, and, as a bonus, some pictures of live shows and backstage.

We would like to express our most sincere gratitude to Dave Turner, former bassist of Citizen Swing, who has dedicated his time and attention to write a biography of the band, and send it to us along with pictures and videos from both the backstage and the live performances.

Citizen Swing Biography

Citizen Swing had it's beginning in 1992 with Musician/Producer Joe Kloess (pianist for Dionne Warwick) and Carolyn Lawson approaching guitarist/singer/songwriter Myles Kennedy to collaborate on a song writing venture, create a band, and produce an album.  The three began writing songs and recruited keyboardist Steve Haldi, drummer Mike Tschirgi and bassist Marty Meisner to record a one song demo.  The song, “You See It,” was recorded and served as an entry into the local guitar competition, “Axe Man,” hosted by Music World.  Myles entered the 1992 Axe Man competition using a version of “You See It” that was missing the vocal and guitar tracks, to which Myles sang and played along with.  Myles blew away the competition and won the contest.  Myles performance for this contest can be seen below (Kloess and Lawson can both be seen in the video at the end.)

Confident that Myles had the talent to become a success, Kloess and Lawson fully invested in Myles and signed him to a record deal.  They asked him to put together a backup band, with the intent of naming the project “The Myles Kennedy Band,” but Myles insisted that his name not be a part of the band's name.  All 3 of the demo musicians were asked to stay on, but only Mike Tschirgi agreed.  Marty Meisner was working on his own band in Seattle, “Give,” and Steve Haldi was busy with a local Top-40 cover band “Moment's Notice” and didn't want to take on another project.  Myles asked high school buddies Craig Johnson (guitar) and Geoff Miller (Trumpet) to join the project, and they accepted.  The search for a bassist led them to Dave Turner, whom Myles knew through the Cosmic Dust Fusion band, of which they were both members. Dave was initially passed over, as Myles believed he was more of a “jazzer” and wouldn't be interested in the direction Myles was taking his music.  A phone call and audition dispelled any notions that Turner wasn't the perfect man for the job - he was hired and Citizen Swing was born.

Rehearsals and song-writing sessions began in late 1992 to complete the album that was already in production with the completion of “You See It.”  By April of 1993 the recording was complete and the album went to press.  Manager/Agent Lawson worked on getting a distribution deal as well as booking club dates, tours and getting into the college circuit.

1993 was a busy year for Citizen Swing.  Reviews of the album were positive, “You See It” was getting radio play on a local Spokane radio station, a CD Release party was held to a over-capacity crowd and Citizen Swing was taking Spokane by storm.  Myles and Dave both left Cosmic Dust to devote their energy to Citizen Swing more fully. 

As the band grew and developed it's own style, artistic differences between the band and producers Kloess and Lawson led to a split.  Citizen Swing sought to distance itself from the overly poppy sound of its first CD and move more towards the heavier and alternative sound that was popular in Seattle at the time.  As the fan base broadened and new material was written, CS entered the studio again in late 1994 to begin recording their second CD. 

In early 1995 the CD was complete but mixing and mastering took an inordinately long time.  Without a current CD to show clubs what the new music was sounding like, bookings began to decline.  The band pressed on, but Myles began writing songs and meeting with Marty Meisner and Zia Uddin on the side, developing material that would eventually become the material for The Mayfield Four

The delay of the release of the second CD and Dave Turner's increasing commitment to his new family prompted him to leave the band in late fall of 1995.  Nick Wiebe replaced him, and CS continued on for about 6 more months before disbanding in June 1996.  Copies of the second CD, “Deep Down” were only sold at live shows performed from Winter 1995 through June 1996.  The CD was self-financed and not having a label or distribution deal meant that the CD is very rare and was only available in the Pacific Northwest.

After the break up of Citizen Swing, Myles and Craig went on to form “The Mayfield Four,” Mike joined “Shovel Jerk” (the remnants of “Black Happy”) and Geoff joined Reggae/Ska band “Civilized Animal.”

Check out Citizen Swing Live at Spokane Falls Community College, April 25, 1993.

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