The Hot Club of Cowtown

Ambassadors of Western Swing
"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

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.”

The Hot Club of Cowtown has toured extensively worldwide for over twenty years, both on its own and with artists including Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Gatemouth Brown, the Avett Brothers, Dan Hicks, Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, the Squirrell Nut Zippers, the Mavericks, the Dustbowl Revival, and others.  Festivals/career highlights include the Women in Jazz series (part of Jazz at Lincoln Center), the Cambridge Folk Festival (UK), the Glastonbury Festival (UK), the Fuji Rock Festival (Japan), Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival (AU), the National Folk Festival (US and AU), the Stagecoach Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival (CA), Waiting for Waits Festival (SP), the grand opening of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, The Barns at Wolf Trap, the Rochester Jazz Festival, the Strawberry Festival, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, traveling as US State Department Musical Ambassadors to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Algeria, the Republic of Georgia, and the Sultanate of Oman, and being inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame.

In 1994, in New York City, Elana James placed an ad in the music section of the Village Voice looking to join a band, and Whit Smith answered it. Since then the music these two have made has always been a secret brew of energy, joie de vivre, and a respect for tradition that is often imitated but never equaled. By 1997, after founding a much larger Western swing orchestra in NYC, Elana and Whit pared back down to their essential elements and the duo that began as “Whit & Elana” grew — with the addition of a bass player and a lot of optimism and naïveté — into Hot Club of Cowtown. The trio moved to Austin, Texas, and released its first album, Swingin’ Stampede, in 1998 after signing with American roots label HighTone Records. Tall Tales (1999) and Dev’lish Mary (2000) soon followed, but it wasn’t until 2001 that the band’s lineup solidified with the arrival of bassist Jake Erwin, who cemented Hot Club’s larger-than-life, earth-shaking rhythmic foundation.

The band went on to release a total of 16 albums, among them, the 2011 album dedicated exclusively to its roots: What Makes Bob Holler, with Western swing standards made famous by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. This album is issued for the first time on vinyl on the tenth anniversary of its release.

The Hot Club of Cowtown’s latest studio album, Wild Kingdom, a collection of all new songs–originals and hand-picked standards–was released worldwide in September 2019, but is slated for a remastered Vinyl edition in time for their UK tour in the Spring of 2022.

The Hot Club of Cowtown will celebrate 25 years in 2022.

AWARDS & HONORS

Ameripolitan Music Awards, winner, Western Swing Group of the Year (2015)
Ameripolitan Music Awards, winner, (Elana James) Western Swing Female of the Year (2015)
Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame (Inducted in 2004)
Western Music Association’s Crescendo Award (2002)
True West Magazine’s Best of the West Awards, Best Music Group Best Music Group (2012)
Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop Poll (2012)
Ameripolitan Music Awards, nominated, Western Swing Group of the Year (2014)
Ameripolitan Music Awards, (Elana James) nominated, Western Swing Female of the Year (2014)
Roots Music Reports names “What Makes Bob Holler” a worldwide Top 20 Roots Country Album (2011)

ARTIST LINKS:
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featured recording

featured ProJECTS

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featured video

Smith's Reel at the Devil's Backbone in Fisher, TX.

upcoming tour dates

15

Fri

Mar 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Birdland Theater

New York, NY

16

Sat

Mar 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Birdland Theater

New York, NY

17

Sun

Mar 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Birdland Theater

New York, NY

03

Wed

Apr 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Fitzgerald's

Berwyn, IL

05

Fri

Apr 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Ten Pound Fiddle

East Lansing, MI

07

Sun

Apr 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

The Ark

Ann Arbor, MI

11

Thu

Apr 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Stoughton Opera House

Stoughton, WI

12

Fri

Apr 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Blue Strawberry

St. Louis, MO

13

Sat

Apr 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex Beshore Performance Hall

Joplin, MO

19

Fri

Apr 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Alberta Bair Theater

Billings, MT

21

Sun

Apr 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Wachlolz College Center @ Flathead Valley Community College

Kalispell, MT

31

Fri

May 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Pickin' on the Plains Bluegrass Festival

Colby, KS

01

Sat

Jun 2024

The Hot Club of Cowtown

Pickin' on the Plains Bluegrass Festival

Colby, KS