The Hot Sardines

Reinventing Hot Jazz for the 21st Century

Don your best vintage rags and join us this Thursday for The Hot Sardines! Named one of the best jazz bands in New York by Forbes magazine, The Hot Sardines is born of a unique recipe: take hot jazz and sultry standards from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, sprinkle in the rich Dixieland sounds of New Orleans, add a dash of wartime Paris flavor and stir in vibrant musical surprises that hold audiences captive. The band’s unforgettably wild live shows have a style and sound distinctly their own.

Did we mention there’s a tap dancer?

It’s hard to see photos of this band or hear their music without wanting to know more about what makes them tick. Luckily, our 10x10 Arts Series focuses on creating a space for audience/artist interaction, giving us the opportunity to ask the “Sardines” front-woman, “Miz Elizabeth” Bougero some questions to scratch that itch!

1.What’s the story behind the name of your band?

We needed a name to play at our first open mic. Jazz bands have been calling themselves "hot" forever -- think Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives, or Django Reinhardt's Hot Club of France -- so we wanted to pay homage to that. And then I saw a tin of sardines in hot pepper sauce at a supermarket and thought, that might work. 

2. What are your favorite artists and/or soundtracks to jam to?

Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington, James Brown... It's a long list.  

3. What’s it like to go from playing subway cards to clubs to large performance halls? 

Exhilarating! But ultimately we approach every venue like it's one of the underground soirees where we first started out: We're throwing a big, fat jazz party, and you're invited. 

 4. Pick 5 words that start with the letter ‘s’ to describe your music. 

  • Spirit (it's what the joy in this music is all about)
  • Soaring (how it feels when 8 people are making music together on stage)
  • Shared (we create each show in tandem with each different audience--that's part of the fun)
  • Sweaty (when you have a live tap dancer, sweaty is par for the course)
  • Spent (how we hope you feel after the show) 

5. What aspects of the Roaring Twenties inspire you most? 

We cull our musical references from the entire first half of the last century, but there's something about the '20s that really resonates today: The world was a troubled and uncertain place then as it is now, and people sought out experiences that lifted the spirit. And nothing we've found lifts the spirit like live jazz.  

 6. What has been your most exciting performance to date? 

In May were invited to play with the Boston Pops, who arranged our tunes for the entire symphony orchestra. We're still waiting to wake up from *that* dream. 

7. Do you have a preference for writing your own tunes, or reworking classic standards?

Each is scary and fulfilling in its own way. The standards have endured for a reason -- they're magical! So we love the challenge of tackling a classic song. We have two originals on the new album, Wake Up in Paris and Let's Go, and the mission there was to pen something that can hold its own alongside the classics. 

8. If you could play any other instrument(s), which would they be and why? 

Elizabeth would play the trumpet and piano--they're such versatile instruments. Evan [Evan “Bibs” Palazzo, piano] would play the piccolo for size, or the stock market.

 9. What is the best advice that you have been given?

The same advice we give: Play the music you love, not what you think people want to hear. If you're feeling it, the audience will feel it too. Also: Take the stairs.  

10. Whom do you define as a visionary? 

Every one of our influences had a specific musical vision that guided what they did. But to pick just one: Ray Charles, who knew that country tunes by the likes of Hank Williams could, with the right arrangements, swing hard. 


Click here for a little taste of The Hot Sardines' straight-up, foot-stomping sound!