Hot Club of Cowtown
Continental Stomp (HighTone)
Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., Nov. 14, 2003
Hot Club of CowtownContinental Stomp (HighTone) Blending songwriting skill with Bob Wills and Django Reinhardt, the Hot Club of Cowtown hits a grand slam with Continental Stomp. The title of the Austin troupe's first live recording has several meanings. The stomp part is obvious, as you'll need oven mitts to hold this scorcher. Recorded at their home venue the Continental Club -- one of the first places they played after setting up shop locally in 1998 -- the 14 tracks also reflect intercontinental miles traversed in gigs from the Grand Ole Opry to Japan. With several cuts not found on their previous four albums, Continental Stomp is also a testament to the artistic productivity of the trio: Elana Fremerman, fiddle and vocals; Jake Erwin, upright bass; and Whit Smith, guitar and vocals. In the Western classic "My Window Faces the South," Smith's fretwork conjures up Reinhardt's energetic stint with Duke Ellington, while Fremerman exudes pure countrified fiddle goodness on "Ida Red." Revisiting their debut, the electrifying "Chinatown" showcases Erwin's slaphappy bassmanship. Instrumental classics "Diga Diga Doo" and "Orange Blossom Special" find the Hot Club racing through chord changes and melodic interludes like a wood-paneled pickup catching air. Supra-producer Lloyd Maines does a remarkable job capturing the crew on a particularly inspired night, which includes subtly named secret closer "Pussy, Pussy, Pussy." Continental Stomp isn't just the band's best work to date; it's one of the best live albums in recent memory.