Welcome to Day 17 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.
Juliana Hatfield is from Boston and fronted Blake Babies and Some Girls. She now performs as a solo artist, and as one half of Minor Alps, alongside Matthew Caws of Nada Surf.
In 2010, Hatfield reached out to her fans, crowdsourcing the funding of her new album through the website Pledge Music and giving a portion of the money donated by fans to a pair of animal shelters. The album, Speeches Delivers to Animals and Plants, arrived in 2011. She did it again last year!
Tish Hinojosa has drawn numerous critical accolades for her borderless approach to music, blending Mexican folk and country music with a modern singer/songwriter sensibility and touches of pop. In 1988, she moved to Austin and hit the city’s thriving roots music scene.
In 2005 Hinojosa released Heart Wide Open, her first studio album in five years, and the following year Retrospective, on Varese, came out. Another new set, Our Little Planet, appeared in 2009.
Known for his work in the ’80s with the Sidewinders and in the ’90s with the Sand Rubies, guitarist and songwriter Rich Hopkins formed his own band Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios in the early ’90s. His former side project became his full-time passion, combining the talents of many of the musicians he had been working with in the Tuscon, AZ, area. Their independent debut Personality Crisis was followed by Dirt Town in 1994, Dumpster of Love in 1995, and a solo album entitled Paraguay. The band’s 1996 release, El Paso, was followed by one of many European tours and 1997’s The Glorious Sounds of the Luminarios was the first to feature bassist Mike Davis from the MC5 and a reunion with Bruce Halper from the Sand Rubies. The subsequent tour produced the live album 3000 Germans Can’t Be Wrong and 2000 brought about their sixth studio album Devolver.
Hot Club of Cowtown
The band’s name comes from two sources: “Hot Club” from the hot jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli’s Hot Club of France, and “Cowtown” from the western influence of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys and the band’s love of fiddle tunes, hoedowns, and songs of the American west.
Whit Smith and Elana James originally met through an ad in the classified music section of The Village Voice in 1994, and played together in New York City before relocating to San Diego in 1997, where they spent a year playing for tips and building up their repertoire. By 1998, they relocated to Austin, Texas, and in 2000 added Jake Erwin (originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma) on bass.
The band split in 2005, though they reunited for occasional shows in 2006-07, including the Fuji Rock Festival and a tour of Australia as Elana James & The Hot Club of Cowtown, in 2007. Whit Smith performed as Whit Smith’s Hot Jazz Caravan, based in Austin, Texas. Smith and James resumed playing together full time in 2006. By early 2008 the Hot Club of Cowtown had officially re-formed.
I would like to add that Elana James played fiddle on my song “Red Green White Blue,” from the album Cinderblock Bookshelves.