Happy birthday, Bob!

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This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is a salute to the late great western swing band leader Bob Wills. This weekend is the annual Bob Wills birthday celebration at Cain's Ballroom, so it seemed like an opportune time to explain, to Tulsans unfamiliar with his legacy, his importance to American music and Tulsa history, what make western swing music so much fun, and why everyone needs to get out to Cain's Friday and Saturday night to listen and dance to Bob Wills's Texas Playboys, led by vocalist Leon Rausch and Tommy Allsup, both veterans of the Texas Playboys in the '50s and '60s.


The line-up this weekend includes many veterans of the Texas Playboys and Johnnie Lee Wills's band: steel guitarist Bobby Koefer, who blew us all away last year at the Playboys' performance at the Osage Casino, fiddlers Curly Lewis and Jimmy Young, and Curly Hollingsworth on piano -- not to slight the other great musicians who'll be on stage, including fiddler Bob Boatright, trumpeter Mike Bennett, and trombonist Steve Ham.

Something I didn't mention in the article: A new western swing band will be playing Saturday night's performance: Oklahoma Stomp, a collection of 12 to 16-year-old musicians organized by Tulsa fiddler Shelby Eicher, in connection with the National Fiddler Hall of Fame.

FURTHER READING:

If you'd like to read something a bit more in-depth, but not book length, here's a good article about Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys from the Journal of Texas Music History.

Here's a BlogCritics review of the Legends of Country Music box set issued by Sony.

Here's a page about Leon Rausch with some of his solo recordings and recordings with Tommy Allsup and Bob Wills's Texas Playboys. And here's a page with the Texas Playboys upcoming tour dates. They're playing Lincoln Center in New York in June, part of the "Midsummer Night Swing" series of outdoor concerts and dances.

You'll find more links and some videos in BatesLine's Western Swing category.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 1, 2007 5:31 PM.

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