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Dancing and romancing at Ashley Pond

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The Hot Club of Cowtown returns to the LA County Summer Concert Series, with their mix of jazz, western swing and acoustic alternative pop

By Russ Gordon

The Hot Club of Cowtown returns to the Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series at 7 p.m. Friday at Ashley Pond. This will be their fifth LA appearance. They’re exceptionally good and all ages will love them, unless the only music you dig is classical, rap, heavy metal or hip-hop. Even if that’s the case, you can always have a picnic and just check out the scene. On the hottest summer night, it’s always cool on Fridays at the Pond.

The Hot Club of Cowtown plays hot jazz, western swing and acoustic alternative pop. This means they’ll play standards like Bob Will’s “Ida Red,” Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me,” Pee Wee King’s “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Polkadots and Moonbeams” and maybe an Aerosmith cover. They play swing music for dancing and sultry torch music for romancing.

The band’s two most significant influences are the innovative western swing band Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, as well as the gypsy jazz group, Quintette du Hot Club de France, featuring Django Reinhardt on guitar and Stephane Grappelli on violin. Our Texas band has the great jazz guitarist Whit Smith, ex-Bob Dylan Band fiddler Elana James and Jake Erwin on stand-up bass.

They started out

16 years ago in New York City when classical violinist Elana put an ad in the Village Voice looking for musicians. She wanted to try changing styles and Whit, the lover of 30s French jazz, answered. The duo moved to Austin after a year of entertaining in Manhattan and soon picked up their bass man, Jake. Jake turned the duo onto American jazz, country and blues.

   Hot Club of Cowtown’s albums are truly fun but energy really comes out during their live concerts. Between the music, the audience and the beauty of the pond itself, there will be lots of power downtown.

Los Alamos crowds are especially good at providing a huge kick for the acts who have played here. Almost every artist that’s played here over the last 21 years of the series raves about how wonderful our audiences are. Sometimes it may take the audience awhile to get up the necessary strength, but it happens and I’ve seen the Hot Club do incredible shows here. Bring your dance shoes. The evening will be CB Fox Night.

The band’s Web site is www.hotclubofcow

town.com and www.myspace.com/

hotclubofcowtown. You can also find them on www.youtube.com.

   A thought about rain and concerts … I’d hate to jinx the series, but rain very rarely has canceled shows over the years. This year, we had a little bit of rain at the Red Elvises, Peter Case, Eliza Gilkyson, Sister Morales and Del Castillo concerts.

The shows were all more than two hours and I felt they were fabulous. Bring some rain gear, it’ll clear. Last week for the Del Castillo show, we had people come from Baltimore, Md., Los Angles, Denver, El Paso, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and the Española Valley. That’s right, people scheduled their vacation and flew in from Baltimore and Los Angeles just to see our show and Del Castillo’s show the next night in Roswell. They told me “What a great town. What a great concert.”

We’ve been averaging around 2,000 people per concert this year. We’ve got room for all, especially at the Pond. Invite your friends and family some Friday night.

On Aug. 6 we’ll be at the Mari-Mac Shopping Center with our sponsors, Smith’s Food & Drug, Blue Window Bistro, the Coffee House Café, Brownell’s Hallmark Shop and Daniels Cafe Haagen-Dazs.

The show will be the Marshall Ford Swing Band with Emily Gimble and starring Warren Hood. Go to www.gordonsconcerts.com for our concert schedule and links to our bands and our sponsors. I’ll write about this show next week. Warren’s played here with the South Austin Jug when he was 17 years old.

He graduated from high school and attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston and has been playing on his own, in studios and concerts with the greatest Texas musicians as well as the fiddler for the Waybacks.

He’ll also play a lot of swing, country, some jazz and rock. Emily Gimble sings like she should be America’s next country, blues, jazz standards, Americana superstar singer. She has the voice of an angel.