Hot Club of Cowtown
Release date: August 29, 2017 (Original release date September, 1997)
A raw glimps of the nascent stages of Americaâ€™s #1 hot jazz & Western swing trio. Donâ€™t miss this prequel to the bandâ€™s 20-year career (so far) and ten studio albumsâ€”and countingâ€”that followed.
Marking the 20th anniversary of hot jazz and Western swing trio Hot Club of Cowtownâ€™s formation in 1997, the band is excited to announce the first-ever release in CD format of itâ€™s very first recording, Western Clambake, which had previously been available only on cassette tape, first recorded in August, 1997 in San Diego, CA.
The original lineup of the band, documented in this collection, was Hot Club of Cowtown founders Whit Smith on guitar and Elana James on fiddle, with bassist T.C. Cyran. This collection of songsâ€”38 minutes of total playing time to cover all 14 tracksâ€”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 Jamesâ€™s fiddle, Smithâ€™s primal guitar tone, and the acoustic slap and thump of Cyranâ€™s bass. The overall effect is of a metal cylinder field recording c. 1937 with Alan Lomaxâ€”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 â€œParty for the Old Folks,â€ â€œMilkcow Blues,â€ â€œOld Fashioned Love,â€ â€œDinah,â€ and â€œI Laugh When I Think How I Cried Over You,â€ as well as ten more that were later re-recorded, including â€œDragginâ€™ the Bowâ€ and â€œOklahoma Hillsâ€ that bristle with an almost primordial energy. This early recording session was undertaken in the bandâ€™s first months together, between busking stints at San Diegoâ€™s Balboa Park, at the Ocean Beach Farmerâ€™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 playersâ€”many of them WWII veteransâ€”by whom Whit and Elana were greatly encouraged and inspired while living in San Diego in 1997. This collection is dedicated to them.
1. Dragginâ€™ the Bow
2. Silver Dew on the Bluegrass
4. Milkcow Blues
5. Party For the Old Folks
6. Maidenâ€™s Prayer
7. Exactly Like You
8. Devilâ€™s Dream
9. Oklahoma Hills
11. Old Fashioned Love
12. After Youâ€™ve Gone
14. I Laugh When I Think How I Cried Over You