Western Swing: March 2006 Archives

The unlikeliest people come together and amazing things happen, as you'll see in this article on music history:

Bob Wills recounted that first meeting with the twenty-one year old Lennon in a 1972 interview with Life magazine. "He was the scrawniest thing I ever saw. Looked like he hadn't eaten in a week. He'd been following us from town to town, hanging out at the shows with his guitar, always sitting right at the edge of the dance floor. Staring like he was studying up on us or something. The only reason I noticed him was that long hair of his. That was before it caught on, of course. He was crazy as a loon for going around wearing long hair and a leather jacket in the type of bars we was playing. But he didn't know no better....

Capital Records Press Release, September 29, 1962

Straight from the Heart of Texas comes the debut LP from The Quarrymen, the hopping new band led by Western Swing legend Bob Wills. Building on the success of their hit single, "Love Me Do," the Meet The Quarrymen LP features the future chart topper, "Please Please Me," and a revitalized take on Bob's country classic, "Faded Love."

The definitive book on the Quarrymen, we are told, is titled, Can't Buy Me Faded Love.

I think I want to live in that alternate universe.

(Truth is, though, as a guitarist, Lennon couldn't hold a candle to Eldon Shamblin or Junior Barnard. And the idea isn't that far-fetched -- Wills and Lennon were both synthesizers and syncretizers, drawing from a variety of musical genres to create a new sound. What country fiddle, cotton-patch blues and dixieland jazz were to Wills, British music hall tunes, Motown, and rockabilly were to the Beatles.)

And so are Leon Rausch and J. D. Walters and Mike Bennett and Curly Lewis and the rest of the Playboys that performed last night at Cain's Ballroom for the Bob Wills birthday bash.

I was there with my wife, our first night out since the baby. The Round-Up Boys, a good fiddle band, led off. Eddie McAlvain and the Mavericks were up next, adding some real swing to the western -- some great saxophone and fiddle solos. The Round-Up Boys and the Mavericks each played Corinne, Corinna, and the tune showcased the difference in their styles. Along with Bob Wills tunes, the Mavericks mixed in Spade Cooley's big hit, Shame on You, Wasted Days and Wasted Nights (a wasted choice of song, in my book), and Please Release Me.

District 2 Republican candidate Rick Westcott was in attendance tonight, too. Tulsa ought to have at least one city councilor with a genuine love for Western Swing music, don't you think?

Unfortunately, my wife wasn't up to making it through the whole show, -- the smoke and the volume were getting to her, I think -- so I drove her home and came back for Allsup and Rausch and the Playboys.

Tommy Allsup played some brilliant guitar solos tonight. He played lead guitar for Buddy Holly back in 1958-59 (until that night he lost the coin toss with Ritchie Valens). Tonight he played and sang Raining in My Heart.

This ensemble reminded me of Bob Wills' Playboys at their jazziest and most untamed -- the quality you hear on the Tiffany Transcriptions. If you wondered how it is that Bob is in both the Country Music and Rock'n'Roll Halls of Fame, tonight would have explained it all.

You can tell the difference between competent players who reproduce great improvisations from the past, and those who really are creating in the moment. Their playing tonight was inspired, drawing energy from the music, from the audience, and from each other. Every member of the band took some terrific solos, but Mike Bennett's trumpet work was particularly fantastic.

The other thing that made this band stand out was the fiddle section -- not just a lone fiddle, but a trio. You should've heard them on In the Mood and Maiden's Prayer.

Leon Rausch was in fine voice -- that smoky barroom voice of his.

I enjoyed hearing some favorite lesser-known tunes like Trouble in Mind and Tater Pie.

It was a thrill to get to hear the Playboys. If you ever have the chance to hear Tommy and Leon and the boys, walk, don't run.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Western Swing category from March 2006.

Western Swing: February 2006 is the previous archive.

Western Swing: April 2006 is the next archive.

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