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What is Western Swing?

The program showcases Western Swing music, an American music form born in Texas and Oklahoma in the 1930's. It's an amalgamation of Scotch/Irish fiddle music, New Orleans jazz and Black blues, and it evolved in the 1940's parallel to Big Band Swing. It uses fiddles, mandolins, guitars and steel guitars, in lieu of or along with trumpets, reeds and trombones. The words and vocals tend toward the light, happy side.

Over the years, there have been many different groups with varied and different styles playing what can be considered Western Swing music. In addition, many artists in other fields of music have recorded Western Swing songs and used Western Swing style musicians and sounds.

Who is Western Swing?

In the 1930's Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Bill Boyd and other Texas and Oklahoma bands were the nuclei of the music. In the 1940's and the effects of World War II on the American population, Western Swing bands also began to become very popular in California. Some of these bands were the same Texas bands transplanting. Others, were new groups with fresh sounds all theirs. One of these new bands belonged to Spade Cooley. Others also emanated from Cooley alumnus such as Tex Williams and Smokey Rogers. The 1950's added the Honky Tonk element to many of the Western Swing bands such as that of Hank Thompson and his Brazos Valley Boys. However, because of both television and the popularity of Rock 'n Roll this music declined for almost two decades. The birth of contemporary groups such as Asleep At The Wheel and the emphasis on Western Swing by popular Country Music artists such as Merle Haggard and later George Strait led to today's renaissance.