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Since 1998, the Western swing–gypsy jazz trio Hot Club of Cowtown has traveled the world bringing its own brand of magical music chemistry to audiences far and wide. Along with vocalist Elana James, guitarist Whit Smith and bassist Jake Erwin are equal partners in this original marriage of gypsy jazz inspired by the music of Django Reinhardt—which accounts for the “Hot Club” portion of the name. The hoedowns, traditional tunes, and Western swing-inspired music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys represent the “Cowtown” part of the name. They have created a legacy of the preservation of musical traditions that have often been overlooked by the mainstream and alternative music worlds. Even Americana and roots enthusiasts have only scratched the surface of the multitude of musicians, past and present, who continue to inspire the Hot Club of Cowtown.
The band has a long list of accomplishments since its first album, Swingin’ Stampede, first appeared in 1998 on HighTone Records. Most notably, they are marking their twentieth anniversary during the 2017–2018 touring season. They have released nine studio albums and are among the youngest members ever to have been inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame. That is a considerable accomplishment for a band that migrated from New England and the Midwest by way of New York City. They were named Western Swing Band in 2015 at the Ameripolitan Music Awards, a new genre created by Dale Watson to recognize roots-influenced bands. That same year, Elana James won for Western Swing Female as well. The band has represented the U.S. State Department as Musical Ambassadors over the past several years to places as diverse as Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, the Republic of Georgia, and the Sultanate of Oman. Their international appearances have included jazz, bluegrass, and country festivals throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America.
The interplay is as sleek as ever.
The hot jazz is what Hot Club do best, and this is a staggering return to form for the band I once said I could listen to forever. That still stands.
—Country Music People