Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Hot time in the old town tonight . . .

| April 11, 2011

Hot Club Of Cowtown have one of those names that send anti-alt-country militants into fits. Roots in San Diego, calling Austin home . . . the tourist element is too much for some people.

It’s too bad. The insinuation that only poor people of a certain region can make “authentic” music is myopic class warfare, a proclivity that often leads to racism when it comes to things like the blues. Hot Club seemed to be rubbing their detractors’ faces in it with the cover of 2009’s Wishful Thinking — the trio dressed more appropriately for a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser than escaping another night protected by the chicken wire. This past year they turned the screws once more by addressing the historic catalog of Bob Willis, one of the fathers of Western swing.

To the haters’ credit, some moments on What Makes Bob Holler? (Proper American) feel so painstakingly retro-authentic to be distracting, a knob-twist away from replicating the tinny whine of the crappy vinyl from an aging 78. (It was tracked in three days while on tour in England, as well.) But the reverence couldn’t possibly seek or attain some sort of cash-in (monetarily or credibility-wise), and if being able to play this type of music that well is the indication of failure? Then HCCT are dunces. (Wednesday@Lincoln Hall with The Hoyle Brothers.)

Guitar-virtuoso purists like their Steves. Steve Vai — a Frank Zappa protégé — proved himself as deranged as his mentor on his first solo outing (1984’s Flex-Able) though he eventually morphed into the leading man of choice for David Lee Roth, Whitesnake, and his own hair-metal-approved solo career, culminating with the landmark Passion & Warfare. This isn’t about Vai, but another Steve: Delicate Steve, a.k.a. Steve Marion. Marion doesn’t have an pained-expression muscle in his face on Wondervisions, his debut for David Byrne’s Luaka Bop imprint, but runs similarly boundless paths with time signatures that come and go as they wish, and melodic/rhythmic patterns that make intercontinental and interplanetary jumps. His audience could just as likely come from Vampire Weekend as Guitar World; so long as he doesn’t end up in Sammy Hagar’s next band, it won’t matter. (Thursday@Empty Bottle with Bobby Conn and Prussia.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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