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Hot Sardines channel ‘vintage pop’

By Bob Karlovits / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Elizabeth Bougerol says the Hot Sardines are in business basically to have a good time.

“Our ambition was just to play music that was fun,” says the lead singer of the band that specializes in a melting pot of music from the first half of the 20th century.

The eight-piece group will make its first appearance in Pittsburgh on March 11 at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild on the North Side.

The band started as a duo of Bougerol and pianist Evan “Bibs” Palazzo, who met in a jam session in 2007 in Manhattan. They discovered they each liked that early material and “started doing it as a hobby,” with Bougerol adding some rhythm lines on washboard.

“And then we thought, ‘Well, maybe we ought to do some gigs,’ ” says the singer, who goes by Miz Elizabeth.

Tap dancer Edwin “Fast Eddy” Francisco saw them when they were practicing one day and added another level to their act.

By 2010, Bougerol says, they started adding horns to the group as they fleshed out their sound with music from Fats Waller to Thelonious Monk.

“There is a lot to go on,” she says of their material, which she reluctantly calls “vintage pop.”

Miz Elizabeth explains she is a little worried about the term “vintage” because it would appear to date their act, but she says she doesn’t know of any description that is “so concise.”

Besides the three original members, the Hot Sardines feature Jason Prover on trumpet, Mike Sailors on cornet and trombone, Nick Myers on clarinet and saxophone, Evan Crane on upright bass and sousaphone and Alex Raderman on percussion.

“There was no master plan for putting together a band,” she says. “We just added musicians as we tried to reach other sounds.”

As they assembled the group, they decided they needed a name, too. Bougerol and Palazzo wanted the adjective “hot” in there, a term that was common in the days of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet.

Then, the singer was inspired by the togetherness of a can of sardines in a grocery store. A moniker was born.

The group put out three self-produced albums, and then did another for the Decca/Universal Music Classics label in 2014. She says the band hopes to have its second with Decca out in June.

Like other groups that focus on a time frame, the Hot Sardines always are looking for little-known songs so they can add a fresh touch to this older material, she says.

“I don’t know if you can call it research as much as obsessive listening,” she says with a laugh.

Busy MCG weekend

Bassist Martin Wind and guitarist Philip Catherine will create an international evening of jazz March 13 at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild on the North Side.

Wind was born in Germany but came to study at New York University in 1996. Catherine is a native Belgian who hasn’t been in the United States for 15 years.

He also is the performer who the bassist says turned him on to jazz when he heard an album by Catherine and bassist Niels-Henning Oersted Pedersen.

They will present an evening of duo jazz rooted in the swing tradition.

Music begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $20 and $10 for students.

Details: 412-322-0800 or

See the original story here.