Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week
Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies and Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys combined the au courant hot jazz with the fiddle music of their Southwestern upbringings and invented Western Swing in the early 20th century. Similar influences and instincts led to something called rock 'n' roll a couple of decades later, yet Western Swing remains a classic American dance music that never sounds dated.
Asleep at the Wheel revived it 40 years ago (and are still swinging full-speed ahead) and the Hot Club of Cowtown are damn fine 21st-century practitioners. Fiddler and smooth singer Elana James and Djangoe-sque guitarist Whit Smith met through a 1996 Village Voice ad seeking compatible pickers and realized their blend was a match -- the kind that starts a fire. Add one upright bassist (currently Jake Erwin) and they had themselves a combustible trio that nailed Bob Wills' tunes ("Ida Red"), Hoagy Carmichael ("Stardust") and original compositions. -- Michael Simmons