HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN - Victoria Hall, Settle

And so to Settle, an attractive little town in the Ribble Valley ; the gateway to its upper reaches. Victoria Hall claims to be the world’s oldest music hall dating from 1853 and having been restored around the millennium it is a fine, thriving venue. It is not a large venue and the 150 or so people who gathered for the Hot Club of Cowtown were comfortably accommodated in an intimate setting.

We were first introduced to this band nearly 20 years ago through a Mr Kite benefit and we had never seen live music like it. We vowed we had to see them again. Based in Austin, Texas, their forays to Europe have been occasional and this was the first time we managed to coordinate ourselves and the band to be in the same place at the same time. As many of you know, Mr Kite is an eclectic purveyor of good music, what ever the genre. Hot Club of Cowtown fit squarely into the genre of “what ever”. The “what ever” in this case has its roots firmly in swing but incorporates elements of jazz , klezmer and blues.

The band comprises Elana on fiddle, Whit on guitar and Zack on bass; Elana and Whit do most of the vocal work but all three contribute. Their voices seem particularly complementary to their playing and the swing era. What is difficult to describe is the quality of their musicianship - it is simply stunning. These guys are individually masters of their instruments but their timing and interplay are a positive wonder to behold and hear. Elana and Whit play slow, fast and blur while Zack seems to have moved on from slap bass and invented a new technique best described as GBH bass; we truly feared for the constitution of the instrument at times.

The two halves of the concert sped by and all too soon it was over. But as I intimated to Elana at the merch table afterwards I thought they had deteriorated not one iota in the last two decades; she said that was good to know. Having recently ditched the Denton Wharfdale speakers and Garrard SP25 MkIV deck for a rather more up to date combination I thought it apposite to purchase some celebratory vinyl.

I have to recommend that if you can get to see this band then do so - go to America if necessary.

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