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The Best of All Worlds: Hot Club of Cowtown Performs at the Mac

Thursday, February 19, 2015 Cora

If you’re looking for fun way to start your weekend, head on over to the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) this Friday and Saturday for Hot Club of Cowtown. Their unique blend of music draws inspiration from western swing and French gypsy hot jazz and the energy of their live shows are second to none.

Hot Club of Cowtown The name definitely piques people’s curiosity. A nod to two influences, it represents two worlds they combine in their music. “Hot Club” refers to Reinhardt and Grappelli's Quintette du Hot Club de France, a hot jazz venue and “Cowtown” refers to the American western swing of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. “People hear the name and they are afraid it’ll be hooky cowboy music,” jokes Elana James, fiddle player and founding member. “To those who know what the name means it makes perfect sense.”
Courtesy Hot Club of Cowtown website Hot Club has been together for twenty years. The start of the group was very serendipitous. Elana responded to an ad guitarist Whit Smith placed in the Village Voice newspaper in New York City. Elana and Whit played together and said it was apparent there was something special. Bass player Jake Irwin joined and they have played together ever since. All three provide vocals. Their intoxicating blend of music is something that will relax and inspire you. The feel is the perfect balance of rustic and elegant, something a little wild and something a little refined. Elana says their music runs the full gambit. “We have American fiddle tunes, which are very rustic, down to earth. You can see them being played around a campfire, to virtuoso gypsy music,” she says. “There’s something for everyone.” On a fun note, Elana has played these tunes around a campfire-- she is also a horse wrangler.
Courtesy Hot Club of Cowtown website While they have nine studio albums, Elana says the group’s strong suit is their live shows. “There’s something about the era of the music we remember in our blood,” she says. “You may have never heard it, but we remember on a physiological level.” Because of the nature of the music, no two shows are alike. Elana estimates about 70% of the live show is improvised. They will be playing new material this weekend as well. Having played at the Mac several times, they are thrilled to have a second night. “We feel really comfortable in the space,” Elana says. Hot Club of Cowtown plays this Friday and Saturday February 20-21 8pm at the Mac. For more information on Hot Club of Cowtown, visit their website at For tickets and information about the show visit the MAC website at

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