Recommended if You Like
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Genres You Will Love
Moods: Type: Acoustic Folk: Folk-Jazz Moods: Mood: Upbeat Country: Americana Country: Cowboy

By Location
United States - United States United States - Texas

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Hot Club of Cowtown

The Hot Club of Cowtown is....

Elana James, violin & vocals
Whit Smith, guitar & vocals
Jake Erwin, upright bass & background vocals

Award-winning Austin, Texas-based Hot Club of Cowtown may be the world’s most globe-trotting, effervescent string trio, who’s joyful sound blends the traditional Western swing of the American southwest with European hot jazz influences of the same era. The trio writes its own material and also reinterprets everything from hoedowns to American songbook standards in its own, original style.

Voted Ameripolitan Western Swing Group of the Year 2015 and inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame in 2004, HCCT has toured with Bob Dylan, Roxy Music and others and represented traditional American music throughout the world for the US State Department from Azerbaijan to the Sultanate of Oman. Eleven studio albums, a global following, and the relentless passion of its live shows are the band's continuing trademark.

"This trio's stylistic genesis--as well as title--stems from the realization that the great heritage of strings (guitars and violins) originates mutually with the Manouche gypsies of France and the no-less virtuosic hillbilly pickers and fiddlers of Oklahoma and Texas. Now together for over 15 years and a dozen albums, the threesome of high-heeled violinist Elana James, guitarist Whit Smith and bassist Jake Erwin showed from the beginning that jazz and country music could exist together on the same page, a highly commendable achievement if ever there was one."
- Will Friedwald, Wall Street Journal

"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."
- American Songwriter

"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)

"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

"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

“...Spirit, originality and skill that would surely have impressed Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt back in the 1930s.”
-Robin Denselow, The Guardian (London)

"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)

"This Austin-based western swing/jazz trio--violin, guitar and upright bass --will bring even the tamest audience to its feet. Plus, instrument aficionados will drool over the 1925 Gibson acoustic, 1937 Gibson amp and all the other classic gear that helps to keep Cowtown hot and hoppin'."
-Chicago Tribune

“Would that any night of hot jazz and western swing could be as satisfyingly entertaining as this minimally outfitted (there are but three of them) party band par excellence.
-Bernard Zuel, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), 2009

"Without a trace of smirky retro irony....a refreshingly sweet-natured, accomplished, old-school treat."
-The Onion

"The young band distinguishes itself by its technical musicianship and vast acreage of diverse styles alone, but it seals the deal on stage, subtly and methodically casting aside the audience's daily worries and levitating the room into a dreamy salon of carefree abandon. Even the heartbreak songs are served sunny-side up."
-Derek Raymaker, Toronto Globe & Mail

"I doubt that many rock bands expend more energy in their playing, but what I admire most here is the unified point of view: a nostalgic love of western swing, big-band crooning, ragtime, even jazz improvisation."
-Marc Mickelson,

"Smith's fretwork conjures up Reinhardt's energetic stint with Duke Ellington, while [James] exudes pure countrified fiddle goodness."
-David Lynch, Austin Chronicle


Wild Kingdom (Gold Strike) 2019
Crossing the Great Divide (Gold Strike) 2019
Western Clambake (Gold Strike) 1997 cassette (20th anniversary reissue on CD 2017)
Midnight on the Trail (Gold Strike) 2016
Rendezvous in Rhythm (Gold Strike) 2013
What Makes Bob Holler (Proper) 2010
Wishful Thinking (Gold Strike) 2009, Produced by Hot Club of Cowtown with Mark Hallman
The Best of The Hot Club of Cowtown (Shout!Factory) 2008
Four Dead Batteries Soundtrack (HighTone) 2005
Continental Stomp (HighTone) 2003, Produced by Lloyd Maines
Ghost Train (HighTone) 2002, Produced by Gurf Morlix
Hot Jazz (Buffalo) 2002 (Japan only)
Hot Western (Buffalo) 2002 (Japan only)
Dev’lish Mary (HighTone) 2000, Produced by Lloyd Maines
Tall Tales (HighTone) 1999, Produced by Dave Stuckey
Swingin’ Stampede (HighTone) 1998