The Cain’s Ballroom may very well be known as the home of Western Swing. Saturday night, Hot Club of Cowtown and Three Penny Upright hit the stage with an updated sound that I am sure that Bob Wills was smiling about.
Local band, Three Penny Upright started the night off right with full sound and fantastic harmonies reminiscent on 60’s and 70′ female country crooners the likes of, Loretta Lynn or Patsy Cline.
The five piece band plays a tight show with sound that compliments each other perfectly. John Lanford, plays a very subdued yet full bodied guitar that will have your jaw dropping and wanting more. Mary Perisho and Amy Amatucci have velvety voices that make you relax and allow them to wash over you. Equally comfortable with upbeats tunes as they are with heart-aching, gut-wrenching ballads. The heart string pulling “Lipstick and Nylons” is just one example of a beautiful ballad that is a little don’t grow up too soon story.
This highly entertaining unit has a loyal local following and enough talent to do big things in the industry.
Hot Club of Cowtown hits the stage and looks more like a classical music trio than a swing band. That is quickly put to rest as guitar, fiddle and upright bass all find there way to entangle themselves in a way that is pure classic country/western. Guitarist/Vocals, Whit Smith doesn’t look like he should have a guitar slung around him, but he plays in a way that will make you wonder if his fingers will fall off. Plus, instrument aficionados will drool over his 1925 Gibson acoustic, and 1937 Gibson amp. How does he get so much sound out of them? Elana James, Fiddle/Vocals comes on to the stage as the lady of the group but quickly shows that she could tear up a juke-joint with her sawing and makes you wait to see if the fiddle will fall in half at any time. She has a very sultry, sensuous voice that makes you lean in to catch all that she is singing. Bassist/Vocals, Jake Erwin plays the upright with energy and prowess. From slapping to plucking, to using a bow his is very much at home.
This Austin-based trio put together full sound and great energy into the performance and pay homage to the true pioneers of the genre. Standout covers included, “Ida Red” and “Oklahoma Hills” both of which had the small intmate crowd singing along and tapping there feet.
The weather may have been bitingly cold outside but Hot Club of Cowtown heated up the Cain’s Ballroom with a down home feel and music that you could dance to. I highly recommend seeing them when they come through again.
About the writer:
Ernie Osborn is a California transplant that has been around the music business much of his life. He has been in bands and currently plays guitar and sings when called upon to do so. He also writes a weekly article in the Tulsa Speaks section enititled, “Whatever Happened To…” check it out.
Photos: Kevin Pyle