"This trio's stylistic genesis--as well as title--stems from the realization that the great heritage of strings (guitars and violins) originates mutually with the Manouche gypsies of France and the no-less virtuosic hillbilly pickers and fiddlers of Oklahoma and Texas. Now together for over 15 years and a dozen albums, the threesome of high-heeled violinist Elana James, guitarist Whit Smith and bassist Jake Erwin showed from the beginning that jazz and country music could exist together on the same page, a highly commendable achievement if ever there was one."
- Will Friedwald, Wall Street Journal
"The excellent three players of this band could be doing anything but have chosen to honor the greats of jazz and swing with their sound."
- American Songwriter
"Unfussy and unpretentious, their blend of down-home melodies and exuberant improvisation harks back to a lost era of so-called western swing. When they plunge into Orange Blossom Special your thoughts turn not so much to runaway trains as to a B-52 tearing up a runway."
-Clive Davis, The Times (London)
"One of the finest performances by a visiting American country act I've witnessed for a very long time... they pretty much lifted the roof [off of the Black Box in Belfast] a couple of months back...a pretty much perfect country trio at the very top of their game."
-Ralph McLean, The Belfast Telegraph
"Perhaps the first thing one notices when listening to the Hot Club of Cowtown is its lack of irony, self-consciousness and forced hipness in embracing a style of music that so easily lends itself to such things...Stylistically, the band steps out from the shadow of its influences to become more than a faithful retro band that likes to raise its tempo every now and then. It's writing more of its own songs and varying its delivery... conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time."
-Neil Strauss, New York Times
“...Spirit, originality and skill that would surely have impressed Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt back in the 1930s.”
-Robin Denselow, The Guardian (London)
"Cynics could say that they play hick-jumping with jazz sophistication, or jazz sweetness with hoedown grit. Either way, they scoop off the best parts of both styles, and are a supremely entertaining combo."
-Martin Longley, Coventry Telegraph (UK)
"This Austin-based western swing/jazz trio--violin, guitar and upright bass --will bring even the tamest audience to its feet. Plus, instrument aficionados will drool over the 1925 Gibson acoustic, 1937 Gibson amp and all the other classic gear that helps to keep Cowtown hot and hoppin'."
“Would that any night of hot jazz and western swing could be as satisfyingly entertaining as this minimally outfitted (there are but three of them) party band par excellence.
-Bernard Zuel, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), 2009
"Without a trace of smirky retro irony....a refreshingly sweet-natured, accomplished, old-school treat."
"The young band distinguishes itself by its technical musicianship and vast acreage of diverse styles alone, but it seals the deal on stage, subtly and methodically casting aside the audience's daily worries and levitating the room into a dreamy salon of carefree abandon. Even the heartbreak songs are served sunny-side up."
-Derek Raymaker, Toronto Globe & Mail
"I doubt that many rock bands expend more energy in their playing, but what I admire most here is the unified point of view: a nostalgic love of western swing, big-band crooning, ragtime, even jazz improvisation."
-Marc Mickelson, Soundstage.com
"Smith's fretwork conjures up Reinhardt's energetic stint with Duke Ellington, while [James] exudes pure countrified fiddle goodness."
-David Lynch, Austin Chronicle
Midnight on the Trail (Gold Strike) 2016
Rendezvous in Rhythm (Gold Strike) 2013
What Makes Bob Holler (Proper) 2010
Wishful Thinking (Gold Strike) 2009, Produced by Hot Club of Cowtown with Mark Hallman
The Best of The Hot Club of Cowtown (Shout!Factory) 2008
Four Dead Batteries Soundtrack (HighTone) 2005
Continental Stomp (HighTone) 2003, Produced by Lloyd Maines
Ghost Train (HighTone) 2002, Produced by Gurf Morlix
Hot Jazz (Buffalo) 2002 (Japan only)
Hot Western (Buffalo) 2002 (Japan only)
Dev’lish Mary (HighTone) 2000, Produced by Lloyd Maines
Tall Tales (HighTone) 1999, Produced by Dave Stuckey
Swingin’ Stampede (HighTone) 1998
TELEVISION & FILM
Larry's Country Diner, Later With Jools Holland, the Jools Holland New Year’s Eve Hootenanny (UK), $40 a Day with Rachael Ray (US), Grand Ol’ Opry Live (US), BBC Live From Glastonbury broadcast (UK), ABC Live (Australia) Songs in film and on soundtracks for: Four Dead Batteries, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, the Daytripper, Wanda the Wonderful
Mountain Stage, Etown, World Cafe, A Prairie Home Companion, Grand Ol' Opry, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Sirius Sattelite, XM Sattelite.
Tours with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, the Mavericks, the Avett Brothers, Dan Hicks, Gatemouth Brown, Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and more
US State Department Musical Ambassadors to
---The Sultanate of Oman (2011)
---Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Republic of Georgia (2006)
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival
Cambridge Folk Festival (UK)
Rochester Jazz Festival
Midsummer Night's Swing at Lincoln Center
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Glastonbury Festival (UK)
Fuji Rock Festival (JAPAN)
Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival (AUSTRALIA)
National Folk Festival (USA & AUSTRALIA)
Montana Folk Festival
Strings Music Festival
Juneau Jazz Festival
Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, TN
Barns at Wolftrap
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Walnut Valley Festival
Lowell Folk Festival
Lake Eden Arts Festival
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Grand Ol' Opy
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival
Monterey Cowboy Festival
Winnipeg Folk Festival
Waiting for Waits Festival (SPAIN)
American Folk Festival
AWARDS & HONORS
Ameripolitan Music Awards Western Swing Group of the Year (2015)
Ameripolitan Music Awards Western Swing Female of the Year (2015)
Inducted into Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame (2004)
Western Music Association's Crescendo Award (2002)
Best Music Group, True West Magazine's Best of the West Awards (2012)
Ameripolitan Music Awards nominated for Western Swing Group of the Year (2014)
Ameripolitan Music Awards Elana nominated for Western Swing Female of the Year (2014)
"What Makes Bob Holler" named a worldwide Top 20 Roots Country Album by Roots Music Report (2011)
Village Voice's Pazz & Jop Poll, 2012