Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year's Eve Eve with Hot Club of Cowtown

I celebrated New Year's Eve a day early.

While many of my best friends danced to the wondrous sounds of Hearts of Darkness on December 31, I was watching Gran Torino in my basement. (It's not The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, but I liked it.)

Knowing that my New Year's Eve would be a dry one, I cut loose a day early at Knuckleheads. Hot Club of Cowtown was on the bill.

The room was so tightly packed that I initially feared I wouldn't be able to drink properly. The ruthlessly efficient solo bartender was slowed by the frilly drinks ordered by the unusually upscale crowd. It was a struggle to keep the two-dollar 16-ounce Natty Lights flowing.

About 225 paid $15 in advance or $18 at the door to squeeze into the roadhouse. Area jazz venues (I'm looking at you, Jardine's) should consider booking the band for an extended run. They may emphasize Western swing and rockabilly, but as their name indicates, they're plenty familiar with Django Reinhardt and Stepane Grappelli.

Elena Jame's playing is just as much infused with the swing tradition of Claude "Fiddler" Williams as it is the crossover style of Alison Krauss. Her interaction with guitarist Whit Smith and upright bassist Jake Erwin is a joy. Their retro sound is hardly unique but the spirit they inject into their performance gives old songs like "Cheek to Cheek" new life. Their original songs aren't half bad either. While the audio is iffy in this recent video, it captures much of the trio's charm.

A full hour passed between the end of Hot Club of Cowtown's set and the first song by Outlaw Jim & the Whiskey Benders. I guess the latter band wanted to give the crowd a chance to prepare for the enormous aesthetic transition. Where Hot Club of Cowtown evokes Paris of the '30s and Los Angeles of the '50s, Outlaw Jim & the Whiskey Benders sound like Luckenbach circa '73.

Everything you need to know about the band is contained in these two facts: the lead singer wore a Marshall Tucker Band t-shirt and they opened with Willie Nelson's "Me and Paul." And before you get the wrong idea, irony doesn't exist at Knuckleheads. Even on the eve of New Year's Eve.

My friend Chris loves music every bit as much as I do but our interests only occasionally intersect. Here's his best-shows-of the-decade list.

Here's an remarkable list of forty hip hop albums and mixtapes released by Kansas City-area artists in 2009.

Demencha reviews the brand new mixtape from Stik Figa. Do you have Hello, Goodbye yet? It's excellent.

Kansas City Click: You'll find me at The Blue Room tonight for Bobby Watson & Horizon.

Lee McBee's longstanding series of Sunday shows at B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ continues in 2010.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

1 comment:

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