Signature Symphony to perform Bob Wills music at Cain's

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Tulsa's Signature Symphony, led by conductor Barry Epperley, will perform a program of music by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys this coming Saturday night, April 2, 2011, at Cain's Ballroom. The event is a fundraiser for Signature Symphony and the orchestra's outreach to schools, and tickets are $45 for bleacher seats, and $75 for cocktail table seating and admission to a pre-event reception. (Will there be dancing? I hope so.)

The Signature Symphony will be joined by some exciting guest musicians: fiddler Jason Roberts of Asleep at the Wheel, who bears a striking resemblance to Bob Wills as a young man and who played him in the biographical musical A Ride with Bob; vocalist Leon Rausch, who started with the Texas Playboys in the late '50s and leads the band today; pianist and cultural historian David Stricklin, son of Al Stricklin, who was one of the original Texas Playboys in their heyday at Cain's; and drummer Casey Dickens, who was a Texas Playboy in the early '60s.

I hope the event is a success, and that it helps to introduce orchestra fans to western swing and vice versa. Bob Wills, musical syncretizer that he was, would appreciate bringing the two together. (I don't know what's on the program, but it would be cool if the Signature Symphony played Franz Liszt's "Liebestraum" Texas Playboys style. The Texas Playboys recorded it in 1941.) It's also great that those accustomed to hearing the symphony at TCC's PACE at 81st and 169 will get to experience Cain's Ballroom and the Bob Wills District downtown.

I have to say, however, that some of the publicity surrounding the event puzzles me.

To commemorate the 100th birthday of the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills, The Signature Symphony at TCC is honored to present a very special Bob Wills Take Me Back to Tulsa concert Saturday, April 2, 2011 at the historic Cain's Ballroom....

We are excited to bring Bob Will's music back to the Cain's and to offer Tulsans a truly unique downtown entertainment experience in tribute of this Western Swing Icon.

Bob Wills' 100th birthday was six years ago. (This year is, however, the centenary of longtime Texas Playboys vocalist Tommy Duncan.) And Bob Wills' music comes back to the Cain's at least once a year at his birthday celebration the first weekend in March, which always features the Texas Playboys led by Leon Rausch and Tommy Allsup. Asleep at the Wheel has played Cain's numerous times, and Hot Club of Cowtown performed there several times in recent years. Tulsa's own Round-Up Boys are there several times a year, in addition to the regular dances they play around town. It's certainly a novel combination -- western swing played by "note-reading" symphony musicians -- but live Bob Wills music in Tulsa is not that rare a thing (although it is rarer here than in, say, the Texas Hill Country).

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 30, 2011 1:53 AM.

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