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Hot Club of Cowtown brings western swing and gypsy jazz to the Me & Thee

Posted by Christina Jedra  March 21, 2013 10:00 AM

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The following was submitted by the Me & Thee: 

On Friday, April 12, the  me&thee welcomes back one of our favorite acts – Hot Club of Cowtown. This Austin based band has grown to be the most globe-trotting, hardest-swinging Western swing trio on the planet. They have created an international cult following for their brand of western swing… a sonic personification of joy and unique sound. .Jon Shain opens the show. Fans of  great fingerstyle blues guitar will love this performer. Doors open at 7:30 PM for this 8:00 PM show at the me&thee coffeehouse which is located at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead at 28 Mugford Street.
 
Since their first recording in 1998, Austin-based Hot Club of Cowtown have grown to be the most globe-trotting, hardest-swinging Western swing trio on the planet. The first American band to tour Azerbaijan, they have opened stadiums for such artists as Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson and continue to bring their brand of western swing to a wide range of festival audiences all over the world. But for guitarist Whit Smith, fiddler Elana James and bassist Jake Erwin, it has always been about staying true to their roots. Remaining willfully out of the musical mainstream, Hot Club of Cowtown have created an international cult following for their sonic personification of joy and unique sound inspired by their namesakes: “Hot Club” from the hot jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane  Grappelli’s Hot Club of France, and “Cowtown” from the Western swing influence of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Though Wills’ pre-WWII recordings have always been the fundamental inspiration for Hot Club of Cowtown’s repertoire and style, it has taken the band a dozen years to fully honor the King of Western Swing. A fortuitous tour in England in the spring of 2010 led them to London’s Specific Sound studio, where they spent two days recording a 14-song marathon of Bob Wills tunes. The result, What Makes Bob Holler, is a tribute to the American music icon, respecting Wills’ legendary music while putting Hot Club’s own signature on each song. 

Smith (Cape Cod, MA) and James (Prairie Village, KS), originally met through an ad in the classified music section of  The Village Voice in 1994, and played together in New York City before relocating to San Diego in 1997, where they spent a year playing for tips and building up their repertoire. By 1998, they had relocated to Austin, Texas and in 2000 added Jake Erwin on bass, finalizing the Hot Club’s lineup. Like any scrappy modern band, Hot Club dwells between the daily grind of touring and the euphoria of its live shows. Years of crisscrossing the US in a silver Ford van through a landscape where local traditions are becoming more and more diluted, and modern life more electronic, have galvanized this Texas trio who are more devoted than ever to keeping their music sincere, free of irony, and focused on a simpler time. What Makes Bob Holler arrives on the heels of 2009’s more eclectic Wishful Thinking, an Americana radio Top 100 album lauded by the Austin Chronicle’s Jim Caliguiri as “the Cowtowners at their peak,” and David Eldridge, in the Washington Times, as “one of the year’s most unexpected listening pleasures.” Their latest CD Rendezvous in Rhythm highlights the gypsy jazz side of their musical personality and was produced by Lloyd Maines.
 
Jon Shain grew up in Haverhill, MA where he began to discover his love of American roots music and songwriting, specifically drawn to the narratives about regular people and themes of social justice. He headed south to North Carolina in 1986, to study American History at Duke University and to continue his musical journey, as well. He had the good fortune to learn the Piedmont blues tradition firsthand by playing in Big Boy Henry’s backing band. It was at this time that Shain also got to meet and play with John Dee Holeman and a number of the great older NC blues players. That mixture of the academic environment and the real-world blues music is what has most informed his musical direction. Shain cut his touring teeth from 1989-1998 founding the Chapel Hill, NC folk-rock group, Flyin' Mice and their spin-off group, WAKE. The band released four CDs, and played clubs, schools, and festivals up and down the East Coast, building a legion of fans. After his band's breakup, Shain went solo, returning to his roots in the folk and blues circuit. He has released six studio albums. In addition to festival slots and headlining club dates he stays busy giving private instruction in Piedmont blues fingerstyle guitar, and teaching group workshops in songwriting and blues guitar.
 
Tickets for the performance by Hot Club of Cowtown with Jon Shain opening are $21 in advance and $24 at the door.  Tickets are available online at www.meanthee.org and can be purchased in person in Marblehead at either the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore or the Arnould Gallery As at all me & thee coffeehouse events, refreshments are available, including homemade pastries, coffee, and teas.  The me & thee has a handicapped-accessible entrance and an accessible bathroom, is a smoke-free environment, and is easily reached by MBTA bus.  The me & thee is the oldest continually running acoustic coffeehouse in New England, and probably the country.   The me & thee has been and will always be a volunteer, non-profit organization sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead.  For information and directions, call 781-631-8987 or check the website www.meandthee.org.

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