Marking the 20th anniversary of hot jazz and Western swing trio Hot Club of Cowtown’s formation in 1997, the band is excited to announce the first-ever release in CD format of it’s very first recording, entitled Western Clambake, which had previously been available only on cassette tape, first recorded in August, 1997 in San Diego, CA.
Hot Club of Cowtown
Release date: August 29, 2017 (Original release date September, 1997)
A raw glimpse of the nascent stages of America’s #1 hot jazz & Western swing trio. Don’t miss this prequel to the band’s 20-year career (so far) and ten studio albums—and counting—that followed.
The original lineup of the band, documented in this collection, was Hot Club of Cowtown founders Whit Smith on guitar on and Elana James on fiddle, with bassist T.C. Cyran. This collection of songs—38 minutes of total playing time to cover all 14 tracks—is a raw, almost primitive collection, a tide of pure energy and relentless enthusiasm. Whit Smith is the only vocalist, but background shouts and trills give dimension to these songs, as does the electrifying thrill of James’s fiddle, Smith’s primal guitar tone, and the acoustic slap and thump of Cyran’s bass. The overall effect is of a metal cylinder field recording c. 1937 with Alan Lomax—slight distortion from the original cassette after 20 years lends this collection the grit and heart of another era.
Some tracks the band has never previously released include “Party for the Old Folks,” “Milkcow Blues,” “Old Fashioned Love,” “Dinah,” and “I Laugh When I Think How I Cried Over You,” as well as ten more that were later re-recorded, including “Draggin’ the Bow” and “Oklahoma Hills” that bristle with an almost primordial energy. This early recording session was undertaken in the band’s first months together, between busking stints at San Diego’s Balboa Park, at the Ocean Beach Farmer’s Market, Cafe 976 in Pacific Beach, various coffee houses, and almost weekly jam sessions in El Cajon and Lemon Grove, CA with an inspiring group of older Western swing players—many of them WWII veterans—by whom Whit and Elana were greatly encouraged and inspired while living in San Diego in 1997. This collection is dedicated to them.