The Hot Club of San Francisco


WOW! You may never have heard of this incredible group; but once you have the privilege of attending one of their concerts you will never forget them.

A group of five stringed instrument players headed by Paul Mehling, who founded this group in 1991 in the Bay area. He is a great lover of jazz and gypsy styled music, especially the type played by Django Reinhardt. And he’s very much into the history and culture of the Romani people.

The group consists of Paul on guitar, Evan Price on violin, Sam Rocha on bass and Jeff Magidson and Isabelle Fontaine on rhythm guitars. They do excerpts of dozens of numbers including some by Django as well as some by Stéphane Grappelli who founded the Hot Club of France with Django in 1934.

Now, . . . what is so incredible is that they perform as the musical accompaniment to three incredible old black and white silent films, in what they present as Cinema Vivant. They play along to There it Is by Charley Bowers, who wrote, directed and acted in it as a goof-ball Scotland Yard inspector. It is hilarious, and you can find it on YouTube. I would seriously suggest that you do so and enjoy this short playful epic work.

The second half of the show presented two films by Ladislaw Starewicz. The Camerman’s Revenge is about a bug who is having an affair and he is bugged by another insect who films it and shows it off. This one dates from 1912. The later one is The Mascot and this 1933 work is like an antique version of a toy story.

The point is that we go to concerts with a somewhat narrow expectation of what we will hear, see and enjoy. And when you go to the HCSF you get so much more than you could possibly expect. Bottom line is this. If you see them coming back to town, get your tickets early. I promise you will enjoy.