The band’s name comes from two sources: “Hot Club” from the hot jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli’s Hot Club of France, and “Cowtown” from the western influence of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys and the band’s love of fiddle tunes, hoedowns, and songs of the American west.
About Hot Club of Cowtown
Since its beginnings in the late 1990s, the Hot Club of Cowtown’s star has continued to rise as its reputation for jaw-dropping virtuosity and unforgettable live shows has become the band’s global brand. Lauded for its “down-home melodies and exuberant improvisation” (The Times, London), the Hot Club has always woven a combination of seemingly disparate styles together to its own magical effect, setting up camp “at that crossroads where country meets jazz and chases the blues away” (The Independent), remaining “conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time” (New York Times). The band’s musical alchemy has been described as “another breathless journey in the Texas tardis” (The Times, London), while American Songwriter observed that “the excellent three players of this band could be doing anything but have chosen to honor the greats of jazz and swing with their sound.” The Belfast Telegraph calls the Hot Club of Cowtown “a pretty much perfect country trio at the very top of their game,” and the New York Times, in a live review the trio as armed with “an arsenal full of technique and joy.”
Along with the Hot Club’s dedicated cult following worldwide — they have toured for the U.S. State Department as musical ambassadors to Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Republic of Georgia and the Sultanate of Oman — certain titans of the industry have also taken notice. Bob Dylan, with whom the band toured and with whom James has toured and recorded, is a continuing inspiration. The Hot Club has opened several shows for Willie Nelson, toured with Nelson and Dylan during a summer-long stadium tour, and recently opened seven nights of Roxy Music’s sold-out “For Your Pleasure” U.K. stadium tour. In the U.K. the Hot Club of Cowtown continues to tour extensively and has been featured at the Glastonbury Festival and has also been a returning guest on Later With Jools Holland, the Cambridge Folk Festival, and BBC Radio 2’s Radcliffe and Maconie and Bob Harris Country shows.
Reviews of Hot Club of Cowtown
This long-running Austin, Texas, trio salutes Bob Wills, one if its two primary musical influences (the other being the Gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli) on this sweetly unassuming, live-in-the-studio trip through 14 numbers from the king of western swing’s repertoire.
There’s a vintage sonic quality to the recording, which isn’t precious in the least, but befits the sprightly charm at the heart of Wills’ ebullient music. The empathy among fiddler-singer Elana James, guitarist-singer Whit Smith and bassist-singer Jake Erwin is evident throughout, a joyful camaraderie that also was a hallmark of the Texas Playboys’ appeal. – Los Angeles Times