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Saturday 11 August 2018 @ 08:00pm :  -
The Hot Seats

The Hot Seats
photo: Morten Fog

The Hot Seats play stringband music with simple intentions: to keep the role of traditional musician as entertainer and commentator alive and kicking. Homer and Jethro, The Skillet Likkers, George Formby, Harry Reser, Woodie Guthrie, Gus Cannon, Phil Ochs, Tommy Jarrell, Arthur Smith, Uncle Dave Macon, Frank Zappa – these are pools from which The Hot Seats draw. Their original music is simultaneously hard to classify and instantly identifiable, combining the virtuosic soloing and tightness of bluegrass, the band-driven rhythm of old time, the jerky bounce of ragtime, and the swagger of good old rock and roll. Add some eastern melodies, a few modernist ideals, and an uncanny feel for comic timing, and you begin to approach this sound.

While striving to push tradition forward, the band takes great pride in their ability to play within a tradition style as well as without. When it's bluegrass, they bring you back to the 1960's era of Flatt and Scruggs or Jimmy Martin; when it's old-time, they try and channel the Camp Creek Boys; when it's time for a bit of satire, it's the images of Frank Zappa or The Fugs towards which they gravitate. Ultimately, The Hot Seats are most concerned with making the music that they want to hear and playing in the manner that is most entertaining to themselves; the fact that audiences and critics alike have embraced it is almost a wonderful coincidence.

The band's most recent full length release, Retreat To Camp Candy Temptation Island highlights the band’s flexibility, moving between bluegrass, ragtime, oldtime, jugband, and Klezmer with ease, injecting humor and sharp witted commentary along the way. Their 2010 EP release features seven songs pulled from the depths of the public domain of old time and ragtime music. This release has been called "one of the most unique old time albums of 2010" by the popular roots music blog Red Eyed Rooster. These albums together are evidence of the band's dedication to treat stringband music as a modern form, open to current themes and sensibilities, as well as a tradition that is deserving of preservation, and to The Hot Seats' ability to play both on the outskirts and in the center of the Appalachian tradition.



"I wonder if 'for a good time call The Hot Seats' is written on every bathroom wall in Richmond, Virginia . . . The band has taken its raw talent and honed and crafted it precisely to sound easy and effortless." ~ Rochester City Paper

"You can search far and wide and you will not find anyone playing old-time music with this level of sincerity and drive. Other young stringbands either play it too safe, or so haphazard and punkish that it comes off as hokey and contrived. The Hot Seats know how to honor the tradition while bringing it into the modern era with rare intensity." ~ Lanny Fields 2011

"The focus and polish is an interesting counterpoint to the band’s satiric approach to music-making, that absurd aesthetic that now includes short films and tune-filled plays. Anything but the normal stuff." ~ Style Weekly, 2008

"Virginian quintet (The Hot Seats) thrive on diversity . . . The action is virtually non-stop, the musicianship superb, with fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitar coalescing with humour and speed and powered by a communally owned and played double-bass, drums and washboard." ~ The Glasgow Herald, 2008

"The young five man acoustic band play with verve, vigour and a true feel for the rootsof their chosen idiom. Which stilted critic-speak completely fails to convey the sheer fun and laughter of the show. If you like this sort of music, you must go. Everyone else should go and those who leave without having had a good time are just not the sort of people whom I would want to meet." ~, 2008

"Bluegrass, old-time, skiffle, jug band … stir them up vigorously, throwing in elements of zany vaudeville , add some unpredictable tics, then stand back and watch Special Ed & the Shortbus go." ~ The Edinburgh Scotsman, 2008

"Their shows are veritable litmus tests for a crowd's sense of humor. If you've ever answered yes to Frank Zappa's question "Does humor belong in music?" then The Hot Seats are for you. They're straight-up nuts when they pick and sing, and if you can get past the lovely freakishness of their stage act, you'll find some real talent backing up the zaniness." ~ Haymaker Productions (, 2003

"Slightly disturbing dada-esque Va.-based string band that’s one part Beefheart freakout and two parts trad jug-band." ~ Connect Savannah, Savannah, GA, 2006

"When you see better-known names pointing their cell phones towards the stage after calling friends and tell them ‘listen to this’ as a band they’ve never encountered before holds a big audience made up mostly of other first-timers spellbound, it’s a sign that something special is in the air. And that’s what happened when the . . . Hot Seats exploded onto the stage . . . One moment, it’s like listening to Spike Jones and his City Slickers, the next, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks. And, when they choose to take that turn down a well-trodden bluegrass trail, those in the crowd who recognize the subtleties between good and great, turn and nod at each other" ~ Maverick Magazine, 2007

The Hot Seats