Tuesday, December 7, 2010
– Bob Wills finally will receive the tribute treatment from a band he influenced, Hot Club of Cowtown.
"What Makes Bob Holler" drops Feb. 1 on Proper American.
A tour in England last spring led the trio to London's Specific Sound studio, where they spent 2 days recording a 14-song marathon of Wills tunes
"We have been meaning to make this album for a long time," said Elana James, who co-founded Hot Club with Whit Smith (they're joined by bassist Jake Erwin).
"There are so many great songs that we didn't get to," sasid James.
"We're going to have to make a box set, eventually, but we're just going to make it piecemeal," Smith joked.
Launched in 1994, the Hot Club of Cowtown released albums on the late Hightone Records label. The group's sound was influenced by jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli of the Hot Club of France and Bob Willis & the Texas Playboys.
Hot Club of Cowtown will opening seven U.K. arena dates with Roxy Music, followed by a taping of NPR's Mountain Stage in Charleston, West Virginia in late January and an appearance at South by Southwest (SXSW) in March - before touring coast to coast in support of the album.
Wills' music - specifically the recordings of radio shows from 1946-47 called the Tiffany Transcriptions - are the inspiration for HCCT's repertoire and style with Smith's guitar, James' fiddle and Erwin's bass.
By spotlighting Wills' early, pre-World War II catalogue, the disc matches B-sides with some of Wills' most popular work. Tunes like Big Balls in Cowtown and Stay All Night are numbers that people always love when we play them live," says James, "so it was a no-brainer to gather them into a record." Other songs, like Osage Stomp and The Devil Ain't Lazy, are not as well known, but were the types of tunes that originally attracted Smith and James to Wills' music. "We're playing what knocked us out about Western swing in the first place - the early fiery energy and jazzy improvisations," said. James.
By 1998 Smith and James had relocated to Austin and released their debut, "Swingin' Stampede." Seven more albums over the next decade.