The Clearwater Hot Club

The Clearwater Hot Club on Lakeland Public Television's "Backroads" (2016)

The Clearwater Hot Club on Lakeland Public Television's "Backroads" (2016)

The Clearwater Hot Club is a dedicated to preserving the repertoire and instrumentation of the Jazz Manouche style pioneered by Roma jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.  Much of the repertoire played in this group are songs either performed or written by Django Reinhardt, though other styles of music such as French Musette, Brazilian choro, and Eastern European folk music are interpreted through the musical lens and technique of the Jazz Manouche style. In recent years Sam Miltich has written original works of music in the jazz manouche style, giving credence to the roots and traditions of the music while bringing a fresh new voice to it.  

The instrumentation typically consists of either Macaferri style-acoustic (a uniquely constructed french style guitar employed by Django Reinhardt) or arch-top lead guitar, acoustic rhythm guitar, lead violin or clarinet and on some occasions saxophone, and drums.  The group typically plays with an all acoustic string ensemble, of guitar, violin, and upright bass when violin is employed as a lead voice in the group, much in the style of the late 1930’s Quintet du Hot Club de France. The group has expanded to even include cello in some performances adding to the appeal of an all acoustic string ensemble. When clarinet is a featured lead instrument, the group may also incorporate drums into the ensemble, much like what was known as Django Reinhardt’s “War-Time Quintet” during the 1940’s when he used clarinet in the group emulating the sounds coming from Benny Goodman in America, while he and his musical companion, violinist, Stephane Grappelli were separated during World War II.


Lakeland Public Television: Backroads

Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club featured on Lakeland Public Television. This performance features Tony Balluff (clarinet), Mark Kreitzer (guitar) and Mattehw Miltich (bass).

Clearwater Hot Club on "The Playlist"

Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club including Gary Schulte (violin), Matthew Miltich (bass) and Mike Miller (drums) performing "Please Be Good to Me" in 2012 on the Playlist. Video Credit: ThePlaylistWDSE


The Band

The Clearwater Hot Club is true to its name when referencing the word "club", as the band has a rotating cast of musicians, depending on availability of full time professional musicians and their featured instrumentation. Since its beginnings in 2000 the Clearwater Hot Clubs primary members have been Sam Miltich (lead guitar) and Matthew Miltich (upright bass).  Other musicians who have been frequent members of the group include, Gary Schulte , Tom Schaefer , Tim Kliphuis, and Evan Price on violin, Tony Balluff and Doug Haining on clarinet, Martha Larson on cello and vocals, Dave Karr and Doug Haining on saxophone, and Jay Epstein on drums.  One never fully knows exactly what artist may be a part of the club on a given night, keeping the band fresh, and exciting to audience far and wide.