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Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival: Big jazz hoedown and then it’s all aboard the love boat

Take one classically trained violinist — blend together with a contemporary jazznik and a drummer with a passion for Iggy Pop and Led Zeppelin. Leave to mature.

What's cooking? Why, it's the Hot Club of Cowtown, who play under the label of hot jazz/western swing.

The band formed in 1997 in New York City, when Elana James (the violinist) placed an advertisement in The Village Voice for a musical collaborator.

Guitarist/singer Whit Smith (the Grappelli fan) answered, along with Jake Erwin, the bass player who straddles those musical preferences.

They've been joined by drummer Damien Llanes, temporary fourth member of the band.

Together, they create a genre all of their own. That'll be the earthy grit of a hoedown with a large dollop of jazz sophistication.

They attract jazz buffs, Hank Williams fans and anyone who has seen them on Later with Jools Holland. And they're pretty popular with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan too. They've been on the road with these megastars, dazzling audiences everywhere.

You can test the temperature of the Hot Club of Cowtown when they roll into the Black Box later.

And hurrah for the second mention of a double bass in this column. This one is held in the firm grasp of movie review god Mark Kermode. His skiffle band, The Dodge Brothers, have proved a massive attraction in The Black Box.

The group — all checked shirts, careful quiffs and turned up jeans — play the hell out of classic Americana with their songs about heartbreak and homicide. They tell stories of mean women, bad men and railway tracks that stretch towards the distant horizon. Great stuff. Or as festival would have it, Skiffletastic.

If you only get a ticket for one show at festival, this — according to CQAF organiser Sean Kelly — is the one to see.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is a nine-piece group of which eight are brothers. They're the sons of Sun Ra trumpeteer and songwriter Phil Cohran, so you could say music is in their blood. Using horns, drums, and a whole lot of puff, they create a haunting blend of hip-hop, jazz and soul.

If you were lucky enough to see the Blur reunion at Hyde Park last summer, you'll have seen the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble there, supporting Albarn and the gang. They took top honours at Glastonbury and Elecric Picnic too. And they've played on the third Gorillaz album too. Quite a CV, boys.

You could bring your own picnic rug and flask along to the festival marquee later, when the music starts. Or you could just pack plenty of applause. Whatever your pleasure, it's going to be a night to remember.

The festival offers many opportunities to step into a time/space continuum and emerge in a different era altogether. Fancy a night in the 1940s, anyone? How about the 50s? There's sure to be some takers for an evening back in the swinging sixties?

This year's Tardis comes in the shape of the love boat which pulls up at the Festival Marquee tomorrow night and then sets sail on a voyage to paradise island.

Yes, folks — it's the Glitter and Sparkle Grand Festival Ball. It's all at sea this year, channelling a bit of a nautical theme. The house band, 12-piece Love Boat Orchestra from Edinburgh, is tuning for a cruising with swinging lovers everywhere.

After the bopping has stopped, you can ask directions to your cabin from Captains Joe Lindsay and Terri Hooley. They're your DJs for the night, and as the sun goes down they'll be playing some classical tracks from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

If you prefer your nostalgia a little less damp, the Tardis is also stopping off in the 1970s and 80s.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is Stephen Trask's musical based on John Cameron Mitchell's book. Hedwig is the owner of the angry inch, after a sex change operation that isn't entirely successful.

She meets Tommy, on his way to becoming a huge rock star — thanks to the songs he has stolen from his friend.

We get to enjoy glam, punk and country as we take on the role of concert-goers for an evening of big sounds and even bigger hair.

Best viewed wearing a large blonde wig.

Belfast Telegraph