The story begins with a classic musical travel adventure: an ad in the music section of New York City's Village Voice. In the mid-'90s Elana James was looking to join a "gigging band" when Whit Smith answered her ad. Though he had no shows on the books, Whit somehow convinced Elana to come down to his East Village apartment and rock out for an evening just to see what would happen. When she arrived, he opened the door in big furry slippers and the rest is history.
More than a decade later, the Hot Club of Cowtown has grown to be the most globe-trotting, hard-swinging Western Swing trio on the planet. From early days busking for tips in San Diego's Balboa Park, the band has grown and developed into a formidable international sensation. The Hot Club's ever-growing presence on the international festival scene has grown with its relentless touring over the years alongside the release of five critically acclaimed CDs.
After a two-year hiatus during 2005-2007 the band went its separate ways, reuniting in 2008 with a packed tour schedule and a new studio CD of original material, Wishful Thinking in 2009, followed by the outstanding Bob Wills tribute What Makes Bob Holler in November 2010.
In the meantime, some things haven't changed. The band--Elana James on violin and vocals, Whit Smith on guitar and vocals, and Jake Erwin on bass and vocals--still swings harder than ever as it continues to develop it's unique, ever-evolving sound. This journey, which began with the roots of the Hot Jazz era, Americana music, vintage pop and folk music, continues to unfold into the new sound of the group's original songs.
In the UK they have appeared extensively on BBC Radio with Bob Harris and Andy Kershaw, and on BBC TV's "Later" with Jools Holland, the "Live From Glastonbury Festival" broadcast, as well as throughout the UK at festivals, theatres, and clubs. Among the youngest members ever to be inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame, in 2006 they also toured as musical ambassadors for the US State Department and were honored to be the first American band ever to tour in Azerbaijan. These days, tours with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, the Mavericks and others keep the Hot Club of Cowtown busy dazzling new audiences both nationally and internationally throughout much of the year.
"I first saw them at SXSW in 1999, continuing the tradition of the great Texan Western bands. Their recent session on ‘Bob Harris Country’ (BBC Radio 2) was a sensation." -Bob Harris, BBC TV and Radio, 2009.
“The world’s most engaging Western Swing band – their shows are all about energy and joie de vivre – the devil-may-care style that combined the rigour of Jazz with the down-home sentiment of Country and earthiness of the Blues – it is as a live act that they have made their greatest impact....The new album, ‘Wishful Thinking’, is one of their most polished efforts so far, but to catch the Hot Club at full temperature, you really need to see the group in the flesh.” -The Sunday Times (London), 12/07/09
“Ten Best Gigs - The Texas Trio stand at that crossroads where Country meets Jazz and chases the Blues away!” -The Independent (London), 02/05/09
“Hot Club have spirit, originality and skill that would surely have impressed Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt back in the 1930’s.” -Robin Denselow, The Guardian (London), 01/05/09
"Unfussy and unpretentious, their blend of down-home melodies and exuberant improvisation harks back to a lost era of so-called Western Swing. When they plunge into ‘Orange Blossom Special’, your thoughts turn not so much to runaway trains, as to a B-52 tearing up a runway." -Clive Davis, The Times (London), 2008
"One of the finest performances by a visiting American Country act I've witnessed for a very long time... they pretty much lifted the roof (off of the Black Box in Belfast) a couple of months back...a pretty much perfect Country trio at the very top of their game." -Ralph McLean, The Belfast Telegraph, 2008
"Perhaps the first thing one notices when listening to the Hot Club of Cowtown is its lack of irony, self-consciousness and forced hipness in embracing a style of music that so easily lends itself to such things...Stylistically, the band steps out from the shadow of its influences to become more than a faithful retro band that likes to raise its tempo every now and then. It’s writing more of its own songs and varying its delivery... conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time." -Neil Strauss, New York Times
"Cynics could say that they play hick-jumping with Jazz sophistication, or Jazz sweetness with hoedown grit. Either way, they scoop off the best parts of both styles, and are a supremely entertaining combo." -Martin Longley, Coventry Telegraph (UK), 2008.
Upcoming Tour Dates
No European shows booked at the moment.