Hot Club of Cowtown
March 29, 2011
Iron Horse Music Hall
Hot Club of Cowtown might not be the best trio on the planet, but if the category is pure fun, it's damn close! I confess that I had grown a bit weary of the swing boom that hit about six or seven years ago. It's good music and all that, but it seemed like every guitarist from Austin to Alpha Centuri had just discovered Django Reinhardt (was he lost?) and every woman who could warble three on-key notes in succession thought she was the next coming of Patsy Cline. So I was only mildly up for Hot Club, a band I hitherto knew only from its CDs. You can now call me a gone-to-the-river been-baptized convert!
What makes this band stand out on the crowded peer [sic] is that it manages to walk the delicate line between not taking itself seriously and in laying down skilful, dynamic, and varied music. Yes, there was some Django, but there were also sizzling covers of Stephane Grappelli and Bob Wills, the later the band's latest project. Yes, there was Patsy Cline, but also some Patty Page. And yes, there was plenty of complicated swing cadences, but these were balanced with some delightfully simple two-steps. And you simply must see bass player, Jake Erwin in action. To call his style slap bass doesn't begin to get it; that boy slaps that instrument with a gusto that might get him hauled off the stage for assault! About the time you cant take your eyes off of him, Whit Smith let's lose with a hot jazz guitar solo that would have done Django credit, or Elana James lets fly a flurry of fiddle notes that threatens to strip the paint off the walls. She and Smith are also fine lead and harmony vocalists.
It may sound clichéd, but Hot Club of Cowtown is a seriously hot band.