40 years ago. No laptops, no cellular phones, no Google, no Apple, no Microsoft, no texting. A different world. But there were three young men with drive and wit who wanted to keep a special music alive. They believed in preserving the heritage of Western Music and presenting it to a new generation. What they did not realize at the time was that they would be doing the same thing 40 years later.
40 years ago, Ranger Doug, Too Slim and the late Windy Bill Collins played that first date on the bitter cold evening of November 11th, 1977 at Herr Harry’s Frank N’ Stein Rathskeller in Nashville. By August of the following year demand was building, and while Windy Bill left, Woody Paul joined, and the true professional beginnings of the band began. It has seemed to go by in a blur, pounding the road, seeing the world, endless airports, hours of practice, late nights and early mornings, and lots and lots and lots of laughter.
Hot Club of Cowtown
Since 1998, the Western swing-gypsy jazz trio Hot Club of Cowtown has traveled the world bringing their own brand of magical musical chemistry to audiences far and wide. Along with Elana James, guitarist Whit Smith and bassist Jake Erwin are equal partners in this original marriage of gypsy-jazz-inspired by the music of Django Reinhardt — which accounts for the “Hot Club” portion of their name — with the hoedowns, traditional tunes, and Western swing-inspired music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, represented in the “Cowtown” of their name.
They have created a legacy of the preservation of musical traditions that have often been overlooked by the mainstream and alternative music worlds. Even Americana and roots enthusiasts have only scratched surface of the multitude of musicians, past and present, who continue to inspire the Hot Club of Cowtown.