Dean Mora Plays to a Packed House at the Cicada Club’s New Years Eve “Eve” Party

Dean Mora's Orchestra featuring Dean Mora and Kayre Morrison
Dean Mora’s Orchestra featuring Kayre Morrison

Dean Mora and his Orchestra played in front of a packed house at the Cicada Club’s New Year’s Eve “Eve” Party on Monday night.

Dean’s band, “Mora’s Modern Rhythmists” was the Monday night house band at the Derby starting in the late ’90s. His band appeared regularly at the Cicada Club until he moved to Sacramento and decided to stop performing in Los Angeles as often due to the grueling commute (sometimes driving back right after performing).

On Monday, his orchestra, featuring vocalists Kayre Morrison and Damon Kirsche, played three sets. The first featured songs from the 1920s to ’30s, the genre they’re most known for. My favorite was their rendition of “Nobody Knows What a Redhead Mama Can Do” from 1924. 

Dean Mora and Kayre Morrison at the Cicada Club
Dean Mora and Kayre Morrison
Damon Kirsche
Damon Kirsche and the Orchestra

Set two featured songs from the 1940s, not a big stretch for the orchestra. A standout from this set was their performance of the controversial “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. They did something brilliant and swapped the male and female parts in this duet to silence any complainers! What a great idea!

I was surprised at how crowded the dance floor was that night. I thought the holiday would bring out more non-dancers, but folks of all ages were dancing.  There was also a decent-sized group of single swing regulars who showed up just to dance (and not have dinner).

I was also a little skeptical about how this mostly 1930’s vintage band would pull off the third set featuring songs from the 1950s and ’60s. I had never heard Dean’s orchestra play rock ‘n roll, but they did a great job! 

Nathan Smyth sings rock 'n roll with the band
Guest vocalist Nathan Smythe sings rock ‘n roll with the band

Dean talked about the time when Elvis made his television debut on the Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show. It was the beginning of the end of big band music as the most popular music in America, replaced by rock ‘n roll. 

For the ’60s, they played an amazing medley of 60’s classics including the Beatles hits “A Little Help From My Friends” and “All You Need Is Love”. Then, they went into “Secret Agent Man”, and the “Goldfinger”. The vocalists did an amazing job in this set!! 

Overall, the show was a great way to celebrate New Year’s Eve (Eve), and an increasingly rare opportunity to see Dean Mora and his band in Los Angeles. Thank you for your years of performing authentic dance music from the ’20s and ’30s (and more)!! – Brian

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marilyn martinez
marilyn martinez
4 hours ago

where and when will dean mora’s rhythmists play in Los Angeles area?

4 years ago

Thanks for this review! Sound like it was a great night!

Maxwell DeMille
4 years ago

Fear not! Dean will return to the Cicada Club on special nights in 2020.