Q & A with The Hot Sardines


Fanfare Cincinnati: Have you performed with a full live orchestra before? If so, what was that experience like? What are you looking forward to about the performance with the Cincinnati Pops?
Elizabeth Bougerol (lead singer): Yes! Our symphony show came about because the artistic director of the Boston Pops, Dennis Alves, saw our show in New York and invited us to play with the Pops. That itself blew our minds. They commissioned symphony charts of our songs from Bill Elliott—he won a Tony last for An American in Paris on Broadway—and when we played with the orchestra for the first time, I honestly teared up. It was just an incredible experience, and even though we’ve played with about five orchestras now, it still fills us with wonder. And it’s humbling! We’re so lucky to get to play Bill’s amazing charts with a live orchestra of incredible musicians like the Cincinnati Pops.

FC: How would you describe the Hot Sardines sound/style?
Evan Palazzo (pianist/bandleader): Sometimes life requires a party. But one that conveys a rich emotional experience which people today sometimes need permission to feel, otherwise known as fun. We love high energy music from the first half of the 20th century. Our mission is to show its relevance and power as we usher in 2017.

FC: New Year’s Eve is often a time of both reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future. What do you think makes New Year’s Eve special?
EB: There’s so much pressure to do New Year’s Eve right! I’m a low-key New Year’s person. My favorite New Year’s Eves have been ones where I’m too busy doing something I love and/or being with people I love to focus on the fact that another year has flown by. I find that’s a way to take the pressure off.

FC: Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?
EP: To embrace life in the moment more—a lesson music teaches us, and we spend a lifetime working on.

FC: What are some of your favorite songs for this time of year? Are there any that you never get tired of performing?
EB: Almost all the Christmas-tune recordings we think of as iconic—Nat King Cole’s “Christmas Song,” for instance, or any of the Bing Crosby Christmas album—are all from the first half of the last century, and since that’s our wheelhouse in general, it’s fertile ground for us. I think a song has to be a good song first—it doesn’t get a pass just because it’s a holiday staple. So we try to combine the chestnuts with material that doesn’t get covered often. I really love covering Edith Piaf’s “Le Noël de la Rue,” and our version of “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”—Tchaikovsky via Duke Ellington,

FC: What other projects are on the horizon?
EP: We are lucky and love that we can make music for a living. So we are back at it—planning our next album while continuing to tour, now booked into 2018.