Hoosier Hot Shots

Havin' Fun with the Hoosier Hotshots

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As its name so aptly depicts, this quartet hails from Indiana with a very unique blend of traditional vaudevillian schtick and swing-time jazz to create a novel approach to traditional pop music and silly standards. The group consists of brothers Ken (guitar/banjo) and Paul "Hessie" Trietsch (percussion), Gabe Ward (clarinet), and Frank Kettering (bass). Their first regional prominence came as fixtures on the National Barn Dance show broadcast every Saturday night over the 50,000-watt WLS out of Chicago. Beginning in 1934 the Hoosier Hot Shots also began recording their off-the-wall madness, becoming practically as successful on jukeboxes around the United States as on their weekly radio appearances. Havin' Fun With the Hoosier Hotshots (2003) is simply that, gathering a baker's dozen of the combo's best-loved platters. Unlike the cornpone humor of Homer & Jethro, the Hoosier Hot Shots' emphasis was on the music rather than a punchline. Their collective persona drew on countrified instrumentation over a deceptively simple delivery. However, beneath that veneer were some tricky rhythmic gymnastics and involved harmonies. Old-fashioned melodies "Meet Me By the Ice House, Lizzie!," "Them Hillbillies Are Mountain Willies Now!," and "Wah-Hoo" are as charming as a spin in an old Model T -- that is if the Marx Brothers happened to be behind the wheel. Their off-the-wall sonic shenanigans made hits on the sheer novelty of "I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)" as well as the reworking of more traditional material such as "My Blue Heaven," "Toot Toot Tootsie," and a salute to the obscure blues of pianist Lem Fowler's "Washboard Stomp." While Havin' Fun With the Hoosier Hotshots is a perfect single-CD primer, the double-disc Definitive Hoosier Hotshots (2003) is a tremendous companion release including 35 cornball classics -- five of which have remained unissued for well over six decades.

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