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In The Round with The Hot Sardines
The French-American hot jazz band are coming to London for the In The Round concert series at historic venue The Roundhouse. Chanteuse Elizabeth Bougerol and bandleader/pianist Evan Palazzo (answering alternate questions) tell us about playing the ultimate American music around the world
Buy Tickets to see American stars In The Round at The Roundhouse, London
Hello Sardines! Where are you from?
Evan Elizabeth was born next to Paris, France and I was born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and grew up in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. After Elizabeth moved to New York City, we met and eventually formed The Hot Sardines there. While our musicians hail from various locations across the United States, many live in or are based out of New York City.
In January 2019 you’ll be performing in London as part of In The Round at the world famous Roundhouse - how are you feeling ahead of crossing the pond?
Elizabeth Ecstatic! We’ve never performed at the Roundhouse, so that’s exciting, but truly any opportunity to return to London and the UK in general is grand - we’ve found there’s a real alchemy between English audiences and the jazz we play. From the London Jazz Festival to Ronnie Scott’s, every show’s turned into a party.
How would you define your style, and have you always loved it?
Evan We play American jazz from the first half of the 20th century - classic jazz. This means the styles from 1920s New Orleans mixed together with a stride piano, 1930s and ‘40s swing and even flavors of early R&B. It’s the music Elizabeth and I grew up listening to and loving. Our partnership was initially founded on that discovery about each other. As a toddler, I can remember my house being filled with the most amazing sounds coming from the records of greats like Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald and trying to play their music on our family’s piano.
What can your UK audiences expect?
Elizabeth We’re bringing the eight-piece band (three horns, piano, drums, bass, vocals in English and French) and a tap dancer, and we’ll be playing a lot of songs off our forthcoming album, coming out in the spring. As usual, we’ve taken jazz standards and put our own spin on them - like a tap dance-conga battle set to a Duke Ellington classic.
How did you come up with such a distinctive band name?
Evan When we booked our very first open mic on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, we hadn’t landed on a name other than we wanted “hot” in the title. “Hot Jazz” was what early jazz was called as it migrated north out of New Orleans to New York and Chicago before spreading throughout the world and early jazz is a firmly rooted reference point for our sound. Then Elizabeth saw a tin of sardines packed in hot sauce in her local Brooklyn grocery store called Hot Sardines! It was an easy name to remember - we’re a little salty and the open mic was that night, so we went for it!
Elizabeth, you’re a multiple expat: born in France, lived in the Ivory Coast, and Canada, educated in London and then settled in New York. Has living overseas in so many places changed your life?
Elizabeth It means that touring internationally, as we’re doing more and more, doesn’t faze me. If our plane touches down in Tokyo at 11am, by 1 o’clock, I’ll have tracked down some locals-only lunch counter where I’ll be slurping down ramen.
Have you played in the UK before?
Evan This will be our fourth time crossing the pond to play in the UK. It is always a great adventure for us and we’re heartened to find that the English fully embrace jazz as a part of their popular culture.
Do you have any plans to explore London or see the sights?
Elizabeth I was a graduate student at LSE, so my version of exploring usually means revisiting some old haunts - if I can get a meal in at St. John, I’ll be thrilled.
What do you hope visitors to your shows take away from the experience?
Evan Our mission is to get audiences, who may not have been exposed to a lot of early-style jazz, to experience its emotional power in 2019. This music makes us feel connected and alive, and that’s what we’re hoping to leave audiences with.
The Roundhouse’s In the Round concert series lineup: January 25th An Evening of Words and Music with Patti Smith; 26th The Hot Sardines; 27th Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes; 28th Sam Palladio; 29th Jim James. Buy Tickets from The Roundhouse website.
The Hot Sardines are also playing January 27th at Leeds Grand Theatre Howard Assembly Room, and 28th at Glasgow King’s Theatre. More details are available from The Hot Sardines website.