Fueled by the belief that classic jazz feeds the heart and soul, The Hot Sardines are on a mission to make old sounds new again and prove that joyful music can bring people together in a disconnected world. In the last two years, the Hot Sardines have been featured at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival, have sold out New York City venues from Joe’s Pub to Bowery Ballroom and more than 150 tour dates from Chicago to London, and have released two albums on Universal Music Classics to critical raves and a No. 1 slot on the iTunes Jazz chart in the U.S. and internationally. Phew! On Wednesday, Aug. 7, The Hot sardines come to Maine to play one hot summer show at the historic Opera House in Boothbay Harbor.
In the talented hands of the New York-based ensemble, music first made famous decades ago comes alive through their brassy horn arrangements, rollicking piano melodies, and vocals from a chanteuse who transports listeners to a different era with the mere lilt of her voice. “On French Fries & Champagne,” The Hot Sardines’ newest album, the jazz collective broadens its already impressive palette, combining covers and originals as they effortlessly channel New York speakeasies, Parisian cabarets and New Orleans jazz halls.
Bandleader Evan Palazzo and lead singer Elizabeth Bougerol met in 2007 after they both answered a Craigslist ad about a jazz jam session above a Manhattan noodle shop. The unlikely pair — she was a London School of Economics-educated travel writer who grew up in France, Canada and the Ivory Coast, he was a New York City born and raised actor who studied theater at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia—bonded over their love for Fats Waller. Influenced also by such greats as Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, they began playing open mic nights and small gigs and by 2011, they headlined Midsummer Night Swing at New York’s Lincoln Center.
The Hot Sardines’ self-titled debut album, named by iTunes as one of the best jazz albums of 2014, spent more than a year on the Billboard Jazz Chart, debuting in the top 10 alongside Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The accolades began pouring in for the band: Downbeat called The Hot Sardines “one of the most delightfully energetic bands on New York’s ‘hot’ music scene,” while The London Times praised their “crisp musicianship” and “immaculate and witty showmanship,” declaring them “simply phenomenal.”
The Hot Sardines played more than 100 shows last year, taking their act from their familiar confines of New York across the country. And, to no one’s surprise but their own, they were greeted by music lovers everywhere. “It never really occurred to me that anyone was listening to us outside of New York City. To show up in a town and have people say, ‘I love this song. I love this video’ is mind-blowing to me,” says Elizabeth. “Advance ticket sales for this concert are strong’ notes Opera House Executive Director Cathy Sherrill, and “while tickets are still available right now, we are anticipating a sell-out.”
The concert is sponsored by Perkins Construction and season-long lodging sponsors The Lafayette Group.
Advance discounted tickets $30 - available from the box office at 86 Townsend Avenue or by calling 633-5159. Regular tickets, $35 are available at boothbayoperahouse.com. There is a $2 per ticket handling fee. Doors for seating open at 7 p.m., and The Hot Sardines go on stage at 7:30.