Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


'Hot Club' brings swing, jazz for Sept. 23 show


'Hot Club of Cowtown' makes its Haines debut Sept. 23.

Austin-based trio The Hot Club of Cowtown has played in Oman, the Republic of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and now the hot jazz and western swing group will add Haines to its list of exotic tour locations.

The group takes the Chilkat Center stage at 7 p.m. Sept. 23. The show is presented by the Haines Arts Council.

The trio, composed of Elana James (fiddle and vocals), Whit Smith (guitar and vocals) and Jake Erwin (bass and vocals), ventured north for Juneau’s Alaska Folk Festival several years ago, and is returning for a bigger, state tour. In addition to Haines, the band will also play Skagway, Talkeetna, Healy, Cordova, Kodiak, Fairbanks and other Alaska communities.  

James said she is excited to explore more “off-the-beaten path” Alaskan communities.

“I love playing shows where there are kids dancing around, teenagers, parents, grandparents – where the whole community can come out and celebrate, be together, and make a night of it. That’s where this music came from – rural dances in west Texas and Oklahoma in the 1920s and 1930s, so it’s a natural fit and a perfect combination.”

James said the band plays in a rustic, rural style, but also incorporates elegant, European influences. Traditional American music, including fiddle tunes and hoedowns, brings audience members out to the dance floor.

“All kinds of dancers come out and the dance floor fills up with these beautiful combinations of crazy, disparate dances, and they all work beautifully,” she said.

Wallflowers and those less keen on shaking a leg shouldn’t fret, though. “It is also excellent music to just sit and drink beer by – so, really, there’s something for everyone,” James said.

In addition to playing the Chilkat Center, James said she is looking forward to eating some Alaskan seafood and taking a hike with her dog Eva.

Arts council president Tom Heywood said The Hot Club of Cowtown is one of his favorite bands, and he jumped at the opportunity to bring the “incredible instrumentalists and vocalists” to Haines.

“We’re really hoping to fill the house with this one,” Heywood said.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. They are available at the Babbling Book and at the door.