Provided by Sweet and the Sweet Sweets
Rich Shivener walked into his bandmate Tom Ryan’s house one Sunday evening to find an empty living room. A room that would later be used as a set for their band, Sweet and the Sweet Sweets, first music video. As the house filled with cameras, equipment and instruments the anticipation to get started on this new project grew.
But before the excitement of music videos there was just a love for music.
“I first picked up a guitar my freshman year of high school and started taking lessons from my cousin,” Shivener said, an NKU alum and former professor of English. “I got two lessons from him and he might have suggested that it wasn’t a good idea because I wasn’t disciplined enough. But I was 15 and I just wanted to play music.”
Shivener went on to teach himself by ear. Playing with friends in garages and practicing on his own, he was able to learn the fundamentals of guitar.
He played in a variety of different bands growing up which helped him meet bandmate Tom Ryan, also an NKU alum.
“Our former bands met back in 2002. And then later we found out we both went to NKU,” Shivener said. “We stayed friends loosely through freshman year and then met again sophomore year in a history class. We were still in different bands at this point, but we stayed friends ever since then.”
The two performed together once in the dorms – in the Bluegrass community of Kentucky Hall.
Shivener also remembers playing old soul/rock and roll covers of songs he liked with Dave Tennant, the drummer, and Ben Jones, the bassist. In 2013, a group of friends who just liked to hang out and jam together became Sweet and the Sweet Sweets.
And coming up with the band name wasn’t something they wasted too much time on.
“Band names can be so annoying to come up with. There’s usually lots of debate,” Shivener said. “We just wanted a name that was obnoxious and easy to remember. And we like the mid 20th century feel it has to it.”
“I immediately liked it because I could imagine Rich saying it in his head and then laughing at himself,” Tennant added.
Later they brought in NKU Jazz Studies student and saxophone player, AJ Pearson.
“I was playing a school gig over at York Street Cafe and a family member of an acquaintance told me about this group,” Pearson explained. “They gave me Rich’s contact info, we got a gig scheduled and I’ve been playing with them ever since.”
“He’s the cheese on top of the three-way,” Tennant said referring to what Pearson adds to their sound.
Tennant explained that when they first started out he didn’t really think they ever had the intention of playing live shows. However, this summer helped bring their live performance to a whole new level.
“This summer has been an oddity,” Tennant said. “If we hadn’t gotten into MidPoint Music Festival we probably wouldn’t be playing again until November because we just got done playing three shows in a row.”
In August, Sweet and the Sweet Sweets played at Rhinegeist Brewery, Fountain Square and MadTree Brewery.
The band does their best to get together every Saturday for rehearsal or just to hang out. Setting aside one day a week allows them to be able to focus on their day-to-day lives, but still keep up with the music. They also like to spend a lot of time writing and recording because Jones has his own studio.
“We like to write songs that have that danceable quality to them. We want people moving around,” Shivener said. “When people are connected to the music like that it’s a huge motivator for us.”
On the evening of Sept. 27 you’ll be able to catch them playing at Maudie’s as a part of this year’s MidPoint Music Festival.
“Just when you think you’ve seen the best on Friday or Saturday, you’re wrong,” Tennant said. “It’s not over yet. Sunday night we’re bringing the heat.”
“We’re bringing the sweet heat,” Shivener said.