Hoosier Hot Shots

The Hoosier Hot Shots were an American quartet of madcap musicians who entertained on stage, screen, radio, and records from the mid 1930s into the 1970s. The group initially consisted of players from the U. S. State of Indiana. Beginning on local Indiana radio in the early 1930s, the Hot Shots went on to a successful national radio career on National Barn Dance on WLS-AM in Chicago, Illinois and a successful and prolific recording career, before moving to Hollywood to star in many feature-length western movies.

The Hot Shots' core personnel were multi-instrumentalists, playing brass band instruments as well as their standard instrumentation of guitar (Ken), clarinet (Gabe), string bass (various), and a strange, homemade instrument known both as the "Wabash Washboard" and "the Zither," played by Hezzie. It consisted of a corrugated sheet metal washboard on a metal stand with various noisemakers attached, including bells and a multi-octave range of squeeze-type bicycle horns. Trietsch constructed this instrument himself as well as a series of slide whistles he played in addition to the washboard. The washboard, along with other artifacts from the band, is now in the collection of the Indiana State Museum.

The Hot Shots' repertoire focused on swing and jazz standards and originals, especially those with a comedic element. Powered by a frantic and seemingly freewheeling instrumental virtuosity, grounded in the musical comedy of vaudeville, the Hot Shots were nevertheless able to cover both comic and more serious material, although some of their more serious recordings retain whimsical ornamental elements, capable of evoking a subtle musical irony.

The lineup consisted of the following members:

  • Ken Trietsch (September 13, 1903 - September 17, 1987)
  • Hezzie Trietsch (born Paul Trietsch) (April 11, 1905 - April 20, 1980)
  • Gabe Ward (born Charles Otto Ward) (November 26, 1904 - January 14, 1992)
  • Frank Kettering (January 1, 1909 - June 9,1973)
  • Gil Taylor (born Gilbert Ossian Taylor)
  • Nate Harrison (born Nathan Harrison) (August 19, 1907 - August 10, 1995)
  • Billy Keith Milheim

Read more about Hoosier Hot Shots:  Success in Vaudeville and Radio, Developing Their Style in Chicago, Successful Recording and Film Career, Legacy, Further Reading

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