"You young folks come along!"

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My wife and I had a great time tonight at the Bob Wills Birthday Celebration. We got out on the dance floor a few times. We successfully navigated the hills and valleys of Cain's curly maple floor, and we did OK with the two-step, but it took me halfway into "Goodnight, Little Sweetheart" to remember how to waltz.

The Round-Up Boys and Eddie McAlvain and the Mavericks each played a 45 minute set, then the Texas Playboys played from 9 to 11 with a 20 minute break. They said they'd be playing a longer set at the Saturday night performance.

Oklahoma Stomp, the new western swing band made up of 12 to 16 year olds, will debut at Saturday's performance. And Bob Fjeldsted, leader of the Round-Up Boys, mentioned that Bob Wills's daughter Rosetta would be there as well.

The Texas Playboys are led by vocalist Leon Rausch and guitarist Tommy Allsup (who also took vocals on several songs). Tonight's lineup: Bobby Koefer on steel guitar, Curly Hollingsworth on piano, Curly Lewis, Jimmy Young, and Bob Boatright on fiddle, Ronnie Ellis on bass, Tony Ramsey on drums, Steve "Hambone" Ham on trombone, and Mike Bennett on trumpet. Allsup, Lewis, Ham, and Bennett are all from the Tulsa area.

For the record, here is the Texas Playboys' set list from tonight:

Opening Theme
Corrine, Corrina
Lily Dale
In the Mood
Milkcow Blues
Tater Pie
Tuxedo Junction
Keeper of My Heart
Panhandle Rag
Blues for Dixie
Westphalia Waltz
Trouble in Mind
Take Me Back to Tulsa
Raining in My Heart

Faded Love
Hawaiian War Chant
Rosetta
I Don't Know Why I Love You Like I Do
Right or Wrong
???
Big Beaver
Goodnight, Little Sweetheart
Closing Theme

I didn't catch the title for one song, but it was a very lush, very pretty number featuring Bobby Koefer on steel guitar.

All the good things I had to say about last year's birthday celebration and performance at the Osage casino were just as true tonight. In addition to all that, I especially enjoyed hearing trombonist Steve Ham do the vocals on "Rosetta" and Curly Hollingsworth's piano choruses. Everyone on the bandstand turned in several swinging solos and wonderful ensemble work. Love those triple fiddles.

One big improvement over last year: No smoking in the building!

Most of the heads there were as gray as mine, or grayer, but there were a few younger folks there, too. One couple brought their daughter along -- she looked to be about six. A couple of thirty-something women volunteered to be Bobby Koefer's hula partners for "Hawaiian War Chant."

One young woman -- in her twenties, I'd guess -- spent most of the last set standing up at the edge of the stage, swiveling her hips to the music and taking pictures of the band with her cameraphone. With her Louise Brooks haircut, she bore an uncanny resemblance (as of a couple of hairstyles ago) to a certain rock historian turned chastity advocate, but instead of being dressed in mod-'60s clothes, her outfit was from a decade or so earlier, down to her bobby socks and saddle oxfords. A male companion was taking pictures of her from several feet away. After the last song, her boyfriend boosted her up on stage, and she went around talking to several of the musicians. (The uncanny resemblance extended to certain mannerisms. To my knowledge, however, she did not compliment the drummer on how cool it was that he held his drumsticks just like Smokey Dacus.) The couple were obviously avid fans, and I would have loved to ask how they had been introduced to the music of Bob Wills.

The dance floor stayed pretty full most of the night, particularly on the big band numbers. Just about everyone came out to dance on "Faded Love."

I hope there's an even bigger turnout tomorrow night. As I said in my column this week, if you've never experienced western swing music, you owe it to yourself to come out to Cain's this weekend. There is no better introduction than to hear it played by the best musicians in the business and to hear it in the historic dance hall where the music first took root.

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1 Comments

Joanne said:

I was thinking about going to the Gala celebrating the opening of the National Fiddle Hall of Fame (Friday, April 13, Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa) till I called Cain's today and learned that each ticket costs $130. No wonder the price isn't posted on either the Hall's website, or the ballroom's.

A benefit would be O.K., but that's kind of shocking, isn't it?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 2, 2007 11:58 PM.

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