Western Swing Information

Western swing is a style of popular music that began in the 1920s in the American Southwest among the region's popular Western string bands. It is dance music, often with an up-tempo beat. The music is an amalgamation of rural, cowboy, polka, and folk, New Orleans jazz or Dixieland, and blues blended with a jazzy "swing". and played by a hot string band often augmented with drums, saxophones, pianos and, notably, the steel guitar. Later incarnations have also included overtones of bebop. According to guitarist Merle Travis, "Western Swing is nothing more than a group of talented country boys, unschooled in music, but playing the music they feel, beating a solid two-four rhythm to the harmonies that buzz around their brains. When it escapes in all its musical glory, my friend, you have Western Swing." The movement is an outgrowth of jazz: the similarities between Western swing and Gypsy jazz are often noted.

Western swing began in the dance halls of small towns throughout the Lower Great Plains in the 1920s and 1930s growing from the old house parties and ranch dances where fiddlers and guitarists played for dancers. During its early development scores of groups from San Antonio to Shreveport to Oklahoma City played different songs with the same basic sound." Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers out of Terrell in East Texas, and the East Texas Serenaders in Lindale, Texas, both added jazz elements to traditional music in the later half of the 20s through the early 30s.

In the early 1930s Bob Wills and Milton Brown co-founded the stringband that became the Light Crust Doughboys, the first band in this style. The group played dancehalls and was played on the radio. Photographs of the Light Crust Doughboys taken as early as 1931 show two guitars along with fiddle player Bob Wills.

Wikipedia, Western Swing, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Swing (as of Apr 10, 2010)

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