P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2003
August 1, 2003
Western Swing Dance at MASS MoCA
(North Adams, Mass.) MASS MoCA hosts a Western Swing Dance Party on Sunday, August 31, at 7:30 P.M. featuring the music of sizzling Texas trio Hot Club of Cowtown. "Conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time," as The New York Times puts it, Hot Club of Cowtown updates the western swing genre of the 1930s and '40s with Django Reinhardt-style jazz while keeping with the tradition of their strongest influence, Texas bandleader Bob Wills. Steadily increasing in popularity, this style of music appeals to a wide range of people, from new-swing kids to folk and old-school country fans.
Guitarist Whit Smith and fiddler Elana Fremerman, who take turns singing, along with Jake Erwin's rhythmic upright bass, make up Hot Club of Cowtown. They mix in a bit of jazz, blues, and World War II era Parisian café music as their namesake, Hot Club de France, indicates. Their critically acclaimed fourth album Ghost Train features increasingly virtuosic fiddle and vocal skills from Fremerman and a Hank Williams-style rendition of Aerosmith's "Chip Away the Stone". It also includes some impressive original song-writing, a departure for the band which has become known for its covers of overlooked gems.
Whit Smith started as a rock 'n' roll electric guitarist, working for Tower Records as his day job, when he had an epiphany. "I heard Hank Williams and Jimmy Bryant and Bob Wills all in the same day," he explains. Within a week he heard guitarist Danny Gatton who helped change his style by giving him a list of records to listen to. Smith spent two years looking for those old records and noticed that many featured an instrumental that, as he put it, "would just be smokin'" so he set out to form an elite band dedicated to that style of music. Thus was born The Dixie Riddle Cups, a group of talented guitarists until one night they invited a fiddler from the audience to join them. Moved by the new sound, Smith was eager to call Fremerman when he saw her ad in the Village Voice.
Kansas City native Elana Fremerman was riding horses and practicing rigorous classical violin by the fifth grade. The daughter of a classical violinist and stepdaughter of an accomplished pianist, she got her musical start early. She went on to work as a wrangler on a Colorado ranch, playing in a Western band on the side. After attending college in New York, she took out an ad looking for a group to work with. "When I went over to Whit's house that day, it wasn't like I was going to groan, because it was so fun to play together, and I thought Whit played with such energy that I'd never really encountered," she recalled. The group successfully built a reputation in New York before Fremerman left for Colorado after landing a job with a country band there. Smith followed her, and they soon migrated to San Diego where they adopted the name Hot Club of Cowtown and moved from there to Austin, Texas, where the group is now based.
Tickets for Western Swing Dance Party with Hot Club of Cowtown are $12 for adults or $6 for kids. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 10 A.M. until 6 P.M. daily. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall St. in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release