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. 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.