Hot Club of Cowtown and Dustbowl Revival are taking a fresh approach to paying tribute to their heroes on a joint tour this winter. To salute the hugely influential first two albums by The Band, these two groups – each highly-regarded in its own right – will be playing select songs from “Music from Big Pink” and “The Band,” while mixing in some of their own material as well. As Hot Club of Cowtown’s Elana James explains: “This isn’t strictly a ‘tribute’ show. It’s more a testament to the timelessness and broad influence of The Band’s songs. It’s a way to weave our own material through them and let that resonate.”
Dustbowl Revival’s founder Z. Lupetin adds that their own songs will be linked “rhythmically or spiritually” with The Band tunes that they’ll cover. Each group will perform individually and together, and, as a result, the show winds up being a different and distinct performance each night. The show comes to Tacoma’s Rialto Theater Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m.
The “Across the Great Divide” tour’s free-flowing intermingling of music is a perfect way to honor The Band’s musical gumbo of roots styles, accurately reflecting the Hot Club of Cowtown and Dustbowl Revival’s own enthusiasm for drawing from iconic musical influences to create their own unique sounds. Hot Club’s deft melding of European hot jazz and Western swing demonstrates how Texas dancehalls and Parisian cafés may be kissing cousins after all. Dustbowl Revival, meanwhile, mines Memphis soul, contemporary folk, Dixieland jazz, and pre-war blues to construct their genre-hopping, time-bending party music. Their self-titled album is a brilliant sonic gem. Dustbowl Revival’s dynamic brass section creates a perfect vehicle to match vocalist Liz Beebe’s lyrics. Beebe exhibits a spiritual kinship to Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks with her edgy, bronzy delivery.
When it comes to explaining The Band’s appeal for these artists, both Lupetin and James point to the alchemy that is both so funky and so soulful, while the songwriting tells stories that are deeply spiritual but cloaked in the grittiness of everyday images. Lupetin, whose love for The Band began as a kid when he would listen to his dad’s albums, says that The Band’s influence is essentially a “subconscious godfather band to Dustbowl.” He also notes that both Dustbowl and Hot Club not only have deep appreciation for The Band, but that their own songs resonate with The Band songs that are featured, lending an adventurous, unique quality to the performances. James, to be clear, wants faithful Hot Club fans to know that these shows won’t be their normal fare; however, she says, learning these tunes by The Band has made Hot Club stretch and grow, along with acknowledging some of the more modern influences on American roots music.
Hot Club of Cowtown reached a milestone in 2018, as the band marked its 20th anniversary. Elana James, Whit Smith and bassist Jake Erwin have accomplished a lot over the past two decades, having released 10 studio albums and garnered fistfuls of accolades, including being among the youngest members inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame. The Austin-based trio is an official Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Artist for the 2018-2020 season, and has toured as a musical ambassador for the U.S. State Department over the past several years, visiting nations as diverse as Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, the Republic of Georgia, and the Sultanate of Oman.
For Dustbowl Revival, 2018 represented the 10-year anniversary of their first release, “The Atomic Mushroom Cloud of Love.” Their 2017 self-titled release was produced by Grammy-winning producer Ted Hutt (Old Crow Medicine Show). The album charted on both Billboard’s Americana-Folk and Heatseekers charts and reached #1 on Amazon’s Americana/Alt Country chart. Coming out of the Southern California bohemian enclave of Venice Beach, Dustbowl Revival quickly became known for their exuberant live performances. They are an eclectic octet fronted by Lupetin and fellow vocalist Liz Beebe as well as Josh Heffernan on drums, Daniel Mark on mandolin, Connor Vance on fiddle, Ulf Bjorlin on trombone and Matt Rubin on trumpet. Together, they create a sound that is truly a fantastic sonic and visual experience. Dustbowl Revival also has toured China as a guest artist of the State Department as well as performed at prominent festivals in the U.S. and Europe.
Tickets to the Jan. 20 show are $29 and $49. For more information visit www.tacomaartslive.org.