In 1994, violinist/vocalist Elana James (then Fremerman) answered an ad in the Village Voice searching for a fiddler. At the top of the stairs was guitarist Whit Smith and by '96 the two formed the core of Hot Club of Cowtown, a hot jazz/western swing ensemble that built a large following and eventually opened for Bob Dylan before breaking up in 2005. Out on her own, James' talents as a multi-faceted violinist who was equally at home playing Parisian jazz, western swing or Appalachian fiddle earned her a featured spot in Bob Dylan's band and brought solo performance opportunities that included guest spots on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. After a period of self-discovery, James put together a touring band and hit the road, all the while compiling material for a solo CD. The resulting eponymous release, 2007's Elana James, brings together familiar genres, adding in folk and classic country. Now based in Austin, Texas, James' visited Northeast Ohio in 2007 with former Cowtown bandmate Smith and Beau Sample on upright bass.
Elana James and friends were recorded live at Happy Days Visitor Center in Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Peninsula, Ohio on Oct. 19, 2007 by contributing producer Cousin Jimmie Wilson.