Western Swing: July 2006 Archives

Texclectic taste in music


Found this item, in praise of Bend Studio, "Dallas' gem of a listening venue", via Technorati:

[J. Paul] Slavens own comedy troupe, the Texclectic Unsemble, won The Dallas Observer Best of Award for best comedy troupe 1999. More recently, Mr Slavens has garnered a loyal follwing for his radio program 90.1 @ Night on KERA-FM 90.1 in Dallas, one of the top five Public Radio stations in the US. Heard Sunday nights from 7 to 10 pm, Slavens plays an eclectic mix to say the least, a typical night will find Bob Wills next to Devo next to Nina Simone and on and on.

Bob Wills next to Devo? Sounds like my kind of show!

The current schedule has "90.1 at Night with Paul Slavens" from 8 to 10 on Sunday evenings. There's no podcast for the show, but you can listen live to KERA over the web.

From hamburger to steak

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A new entry on YouTube -- the Texas Playboys performing "New San Antonio Rose" on Austin City Limits in 1976. The ensemble included Leon McAuliffe on steel guitar, Leon Rausch singing, Eldon Shamblin on standard guitar (you can see him off to the left in the wide shots). The poster thinks that the fiddle player, who is doing his best impression of Bob Wills' stage mannerisms, is Keith Coleman. (The audio's a bit warbly.)

Another recent YouTube addition: A 1951 Snader Transcription -- music video -- of Carolina Cotton singing "Three Miles South of Cash in Arkansas" with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. That's Joe Holley playing fiddle left-handed and a headless Bobby Koefer on steel guitar. (Here's a website devoted to the late Carolina Cotton's life and career.)

Meanwhile, from a perusal of the message board at texasplayboys.net, I learn:

Herb Remington, a legendary steel guitar player who was with the Playboys from 1946 to 1950 (you'll hear him on a lot of the Tiffany Transcriptions and some of the early material recorded for MGM), is still performing in the Houston area. He's with the River Road Boys, who have a couple of gigs scheduled each month through the end of the year. And he plays 2nd Sunday of each month with the Swing Kings at Cosmo's Cafe (that's a Cosmo's in Houston, NOT the one in Tulsa). And Herb has a company, Remington Steel Guitars, that custom-builds non-pedal steel guitars. That website has some of his CDs on sale, too.

There's a Live365 radio station that plays a lot of Western Swing. It's called Ralphie's Radio: "We're playing all your Western Swing favorites by Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Hank Penny & His Radio Cowboys, Tex Williams & His Western Caravan, Spade Cooley, Hi-Flyers, Sons of the Pioneers and many, many others. CAUTION: This stuff 'gets your heart to jumpin' and it gets so hot it burns a hole in your undershirt!'" Right now, I'm listening to "Hometown Stomp," a 1947 instrumental that spotlights Herb Remington.

Leon Rausch and Tommy Allsup lead the current incarnation of the Texas Playboys, and they brought in some big country names -- e.g., George Jones, Porter Waggoner, Tanya Tucker, Charlie Daniels -- to sing and play on a Bob Wills 100th birthday tribute album. Rausch, Allsup, and the Playboys played New York City at the end of June -- I would love to hear from someone who was there.

This month's "Swingin' West" Internet radio show is a tribute to songwriter Cindy Walker, who passed away earlier this year.

There are two new Bob Wills CD releases on their way from Collectables Records. One is a double album due out in August -- Wills' last album with Liberty and, for the first time on CD, Capitol's "In Concert" LP. There are some tracks here that haven't been available on CD other than the ultra-comprehensive and expensive Bear Family compilations. Just out last week, but less exciting, is San Antonio Rose, a collection of ten of his most popular songs. No indication which era or eras the songs were taken from.

On Amazon, I note a planned September release for In Hollywood 1943-44.

Early this year, a 1930s radio broadcast of the Texas Playboys was released on CD. This one is on my acquisition list.

Father's Day notes

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This draft was started a couple of days after Father's Day, but I never got around to finishing it. In lieu of something more substantive tonight, here it is:

We celebrated Father's Day by taking my dad and mom to lunch at Mexicali Border Café at Main and Brady downtown. It's one of our favorite Mexican places; Mom and Dad had never been there. Great salsa (sort of halfway in texture and heat between Chimi's salsa fresca and salsa picante) and some delicious non-traditional Mexican dishes.

My wife and I had the Stuffed Carne Asada. At $13.95, it's one of the most expensive things on the menu, and we always consider getting something else (the Shrimp Acapulco is very tasty too), but we can't stand not to have this: "Fajita Steak stuffed with Melted Jack Cheese, Mushrooms, and Onions. Topped with Sautéed Pico de Gallo, Bacon and Mushrooms. Served with Rice, Borracho Beans and Saut´┐Żed Vegetables." It's big enough and rich enough we always have enough to bring home for another meal. The sautéed vegetables (carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini) were nicely spicy and just crisp enough.

The waitress, Heather, deserves special praise. She managed to be both attentive and inobtrusive. Instead of interrupting conversation every five minutes to ask, "Everything OK?" she passed by regularly, noticed if anything needed refilling, and just took care of it. When she noticed one of us dabbing at a bit of salsa that had landed on a shirt, she brought out some club soda and some extra napkins.

I gave my dad a new sports shirt and a Johnny Cash CD. My Mother's Hymnbook is a collection of traditional hymns and gospel songs, sung with only a guitar for accompaniment. Cash recorded it in the few months between his wife's death and his own. I had come across it in the CD return shelf in the library, checked it out, and loved it. These are songs that we sang in the little Southern Baptist church I grew up in, but don't hear much in our PCA congregation: I'm Bound For The Promised Land, Softly and Tenderly, Just As I Am, When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.

(I've found all sorts of gems on the library's CD return shelf, things I probably wouldn't have sought out on purpose: Spike Jones' Greatest Hits; Sam Cooke: The Man Who Invented Soul, a four-disc set; a two-disc set of everything Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters recorded together.)

The kids gave me a Louis Armstrong CD, a Patsy Cline CD, and the original version of Asleep at the Wheel's first Bob Wills tribute CD, along with a new clock radio that synchronizes itself to the atomic clock via shortwave.

I already had a version of this disc -- the "dance remix", which has a black cover. I bought it as motivation/reward when I refinished the kids' wood floors last summer, and I liked it, but some of the tracks (five of them, to be precise) seemed unnecessarily tarted up -- as if some producer didn't think classic Western Swing was good enough to get people out on the dance floor. On "Big Ball's in Cowtown," the dance version is almost double the length of the original, padded out with backup singers singing "Cowtown, Cowtown, we're all goin' to Cowtown" over and over and over again. Then there's the bizarre addition of the same two measures of "Yearning," digitally transposed into three different keys for the intro to the song -- somehow that made it a dance version. Similar weirdness is inflicted upon "Hubbin' It," "Corrine, Corrina," and "Old Fashioned Love." At least they left 13 of the songs alone.

I had heard the unadulterated versions of a couple of the tracks from the white-covered original edition, and put it on my wish list, a wish my wife and kids were kind enough to fulfill.

The album features famous modern country artists (e.g., George Strait, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks -- Huey Lewis, too) singing or playing Bob Wills tunes alongside Asleep at the Wheel and some of the original Texas Playboys -- Eldon Shamblin, Johnny Gimble, and Herb Remington.

"Yearning," sung on this album by Vince Gill, has become a favorite of mine. It was a Tin Pan Alley tune, published in 1925 by Benny Davis and Joe Burke. (Davis and Burke also wrote "Carolina Moon." Burke also wrote "Tiptoe through the Tulips" and "Rambling Rose." Davis also wrote "Baby Face.") Somehow this sweet little tune found its way into both the standards and Western Swing repertoires -- Nat King Cole, Tommy Dorsey, and Frank Sinatra, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills all recorded it. Merle Haggard sang it on the final album with Bob Wills (For the Last Time), but I like Gill's version a little better, if only because it includes both verses.

The songbird yearns to sing a love song.
The roses yearn just for the dew.
The whole world's yearning for the sunshine.
I have a yearning too.

Yearning just for you,
That's all I do, my dear.
Learning why I'm blue,
I wish that you were here.
Smiles have turned to tears,
Days have turned to years.
Yearning just for you,
I hope that you yearn, too.

When shadows fall and stars are beaming,
'Tis then I miss you most of all.
I fall asleep and start a-dreaming.
It seems I hear you call:

Yearning just for you,
That's all I do, my dear.
Learning why I'm blue,
I wish that you were here.
Smiles have turned to tears,
Days have turned to years.
Yearning just for you,
I hope that you yearn, too.

I've enjoyed the gifts from my children, but the greatest Father's Day gifts of all are the children themselves.

About this Archive

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

Western Swing: May 2006 is the previous archive.

Western Swing: September 2006 is the next archive.

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