History of Swingin' Door Records

Mark Risk, Executive Producer of Swingin' Door Records explained how their first project came about: "Last winter Earl and Ernie Cate and I got together for lunch to discuss a possible recording project. The brothers had recently semi-retired; abandoning their relentless road trips to stay home and enjoy life. But, there is more music in these boys. The idea was to assemble some of the regions' best musicians in the studio and see what happens. The Cates got on board and with their connections we were able to bring together a diverse mixture of area pros." Mark went on to say, "The players laid down some wonderful music, magical at times. The spirit was with us and we had a lot of fun."

History of the Swingin' Door

The Swingin' Door swung open its doors in December 1971 in what is now a part of the Ozark Brew Pub at the corner of Dickson and West Street. Prior to that time, the building housed Bill & Lil's Steakhouse. When Bill & Lil's decided to move out to Highway 71, an enterprising bartender of theirs asked if he could take over the lease. That bartender, David Barrow, opened the Swingin' Door in late 1971. The infamous two story cowboy that graced the exterior of the building and guarded the door was erected shortly thereafter. The first group to play at the Swingin' Door was a duo know as "No Strings Attached" featuring Chris Basore and Gary Brockway. They simply set up on bar stools and passed the hat for tips after their shows. They caught on, started a following of sorts, and within months were playing to full houses.

In 1974, David Barrow sold the Swingin' Door to David Reese and Marilyn Reese Sorrells. David Reese was a Vietnam veteran with a passion for live music and the foresight to see the potential of the saloon. With Marilyn's business sense, the couple took the Swingin' Door to new heights. The following is a partial list of performers who graced the Swingin' Door's hallowed stage: Traci Nelson, Willis Allen Ramsey, Kevin Welch, Alvin Crow, Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Tennessee Hat Band, Rusty Wier, David Allan Coe, Asleep at the Wheel and Zorro and the Blue Footballs.

In 1979, the Reese's sold the bar. The new owners from Little Rock took down the cowboy and renamed the saloon the Whitewater Tavern and the era ended.


Swingin' Door Records | P.O. Box 747 | Fayetteville, AR 72702 | Phone: (479) 582-3603@swingindoorrecords.com


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