Nov 242017

Miss Elana James, violin & vocals; Mr. Whit Smith, guitar & vocals; and Mr. Jake Erwin, upright bass & vocals, make up this trio of Western Swing you’ll ever want to see. They ARE Hot Club Of Cowtown and they have been swinging since 1997. Their first album is now available for purchase once again, pick it up on the road at their merch table.

They are very excited to announce their first-ever High Plains Tour between February 1 and March 24, 2018. They will be touring extensively throughout many small communities in the central and north central USA, getting to play in all sorts of places for all kinds of people we may not otherwise have a chance to meet.

From the website:

While we will be playing some bigger towns along the way (Tulsa, Kansas City, Denver) we will mostly be performing for the first time in many smaller, rural communities from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Oklahoma to Colorado, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

The shows on the High Plains Tour are mostly put on by small concert associations and have a community member who sells tickets. If there is an online ticket outlet it is listed with the performance.

In cases with no online ticket outlet, please call the Allied Tour Services office for more information at 763-559-8019.

Also they would like to announce the arrival of “Western Clambake” (officially out this week), a re-issue of our first cassette recording from 20 years ago. A total collector’s item, only available from our website and our live shows! (Please see & click here or on image below for more info.)

We had a great August with some wonderful time off–Whit spent time in New Mexico with his family and Elana rode over 100 miles on the Continental Divide trail in northwest Wyoming with old friends. Pretty sure Jake remained in Austin much of that time with a fine cocktail, playing around town with friends, and cooking the occasional steak over a campfire….Marking the 20th anniversary of hot jazz and Western swing trio Hot Club of Cowtown’s formation in 1997, the band is excited to announce the first-ever release in CD format of it’s very first recording, Western Clambake, which had previously been available only on cassette tape, first recorded in August, 1997 in San Diego, CA.

Big Sky, MT

December 31, 2017


Nov 242017

Folks at this juncture every website in the music industry has posted about the passing of Country Legend Mel Tillis. I will be writing some about what he contributed to Country Music, and how his life embellished the genre. Whoever first I wanted to do something that many websites WON’T  post, his service information. This coming Monday in Clarksville his visitation service will be open to the public. I’m going to embed the actual article and obituary in this article.

Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, November 27 at Sykes Funeral Home in the 400 block of Franklin Street in Clarksville. Tillis’ public funeral service will follow at 3 p.m. at Mount Hermon Baptist Church in the 2200 block of Jarrell Ridge Road with a private burial after the service.

A visitation in Silver Springs, Florida will precede the services in Clarksville. The Florida service has been planned for 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 25 at Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church.

Tillis’ family has also been planning a public memorial service which will be open to fans and the music industry in January. That service will be held in Nashville at the Ryman. Further details will soon be released.

Mel passed away in his sleep on November 19, 2017 after a respiratory and intestinal illness at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, FL.

Mel was born August 8, 1932 in Tampa, Florida. He was the third child of Burma Rogers Tillis and Lonnie Lee Tillis. In his youth, he was baptized at Canal Point Baptist Church. The family eventually settled in Pahokee, Florida. At a young age, a bout of malaria left Mel with a speech impediment, stuttering. His mother encouraged him to minimize his stutter with humor. He became a natural storyteller, learned the guitar and patterned his love of music after the greats of the day; Red Foley, Bob Wills, The Carter family, and others.

Mel graduated from Pahokee High School with the goal of playing football for his beloved Florida Gators. He instead found himself serving as a baker in the Air Force, serving in Okinawa and fine tuning his talents with his first band, The Westerners.

Mel’s talent for entertaining led him to pursue a music career in Nashville. The record labels told him, they needed copywriters and thus began his songwriting career. “My songs are all blessings, they were just there.” His songwriting success led him to a 60 year journey as a singer, actor, writer and successful business man. He won every major award he could for his accomplishments in the music field: a National Medal of Arts, induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and member of the Grand Ole Opry. Modeling his mentor Burl Ives, he also found time to become a 33 degree Freemason. Later in life, he penned his first novel “Acting Sheriff” and also began painting. His paintings have raised thousands of dollars for the Shriners Children’s Hospital. Never one to be still for long, he traveled with his beloved band, The Statesiders, until late 2015.

His proudest role was being a father. His children entertained with him at his Branson, Mo. Theater for many years.

Mel is survived by brother, Richard Tillis of Bolivar, MO; sister, Linda Crosby of Chapmansboro, Tennessee; partner, Kathy Demonaco; five children: Pam, Connie, Cindy, Mel Jr., and Carrie from a first marriage to Doris; and a daughter Hannah with Judy Edwards. He also has six grandchildren and one great grandson, Ray. He is preceded in death by both parents, sister, Imogene Burdeshaw, and second wife Julia Edwards.
Mel divided his time between a farm in Ashland City, TN. and his ranch in Silver Springs, FL., where he lived the last year. Online condolences may be made at

Mr. Kyle Young from the Country Music Hall Of Fame had this to say:

“Mel Tillis spent a lifetime giving us joy and laughter and music, which is why his death brings such sadness. Had he never stepped on a stage, he would still have been one of the funniest and most genuine people on the planet. But his whimsy and warmth were only a part of his appeal. He wrote some of country music’s most compelling and consequential songs, he fronted a remarkable band, and he sang with power and emotion. He also shone as an inspiration, revealing what others called an impediment as a vehicle for humor and hope.”