Review: The Hot Club Of Cowtown at Lowdham Village Hall

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It may not have quite been bonfire night, but on the 4th November The Hot Club Of Cowtown produced fireworks in Lowdham Village Hall with their stunning gig.

‘How can you put that in to words?’ asked one Warthog regular on her way out. In honesty, with some difficulty.

The Hot Club of Cowtown marry Western Swing music with Gypsy Jazz. ‘Cowtown’ referring to the influence of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys and Hot Club to The Hot Club de France, a jazz movement in Paris which included the greats, Django Reinhart and Stephane Grappelli. Celebrating their twentieth year as a unit, the group were quick to show their American side with Dev’lish Mary and Oklahoma Hills, a song of Jake Guthrie (relative of Woody) later followed by standards such as Old Cowhand From The Rio Grande, The Call Of The Canyon, and One Hundred And Sixty Acres. Indeed, it was when it Western Swing style that the trio harmonised most sweetly.

The band consisted of Elana James (fiddle and vocals) with a most expressive face, a laconic Whit Smith (guitar and vocals) and driving the whole show along with thumping double bass was Jake Erwin. As is jazz convention, every solo was greeted by applause mid number.

Ironically, Quien Es, a song about Billy The Kid’s last words before being shot, was the first where the jazz groove was evident through James’s strident violin. However, full Gypsy mode came with tracks such as Melancholy Baby, Fuli Tschai (Bad Girl), cosmopolitan The Continental, and Reinhart and Grappelli’s Jattendrai. You could almost imagine you were in a smoke filled French jazz club

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There were also self penned songs. James’s spends her summers ‘horse wrangling’  and her experiences of the great outdoors inspired High Up On A Mountain. A full eight hours often eludes Smith, suffering as he does from sporadic insomnia. This was encapsulated in his song Sleep. Seeing as the band are soon to perform live in Scotland there was an interesting version of Take The High Road in practice for the occasion

Towards the end of the gig Hot Club threw things over to requests from the audience. A really nice touch and well appreciated.

A rapturous standing ovation called the band back for an encore which to the delight of promoter Mike Hoare was a rip roaring version of Orange Blossom Special. A finish not to be forgotten anytime soon.


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