Western Swing: February 2010 Archives

Because this is a long entry, you'll need to click the "Continue reading" link to see the whole thing. Clicking any of the photos will take you to a bigger version and my full set of San Antonio streetscape photos. If you're interested in hotels, restaurants, historic preservation, and entertainment in San Antonio, read on....

Aztec Theater, San Antonio, MDB10710

Once again last week, business took me to San Antonio. It was a productive trip. We worked second shift instead of third, which was much more pleasant. I was awake enough during the day to get out and enjoy the sunny 60-degree weather.

One of the things I love about San Antonio is the strong commitment to historic preservation, a commitment that dates back almost 90 years. The San Antonio Conservation Society was founded in 1924 "to preserve the 'antiquated foreignness' embodied in San Antonio's charm and character," and it has been successful in that regard, but as a happy side effect, the society's efforts have also succeeded in preserving the early 20th century commercial buildings that were brand new or not even built when the society was founded. The result is a bustling urban downtown as an attraction for tourists and conventioneers.

The story of the San Antonio Conservation Society is worth reading. Like a similar organization in Savannah, it was founded by prominent and wealthy women who were outraged at the threatened destruction of a historic market. And as in Savannah, San Antonio's preservationists lost their first battle but went on to create a culture where history is cherished.

The ladies of the Conservation Society came up with creative ways to make the case for preservation:

In September 1924, after sketching the Commissioners at their weekly meetings, the ladies presented a play called, "The Goose with the Golden Eggs." They performed their play after the commissioners' regular meeting with puppets crafted to look like the men themselves. The commissioners of the play were called upon to arbitrate an argument between Mr. and Mrs. San Antonio over whether San Antonio's character and charms should be killed to achieve prosperity more quickly. Of course, the Conservation Society members in the audience responded, "NO," and many cheered. Preservation of the city's character and charms would reap greater long-term benefits, including civic pride, than the mere accumulation of money.

Their response to the notion of filling in the Great Bend, which had been a recommendation in an engineering report, was to take the City Commissioners on a canoe ride on the bend just to show the men how beautiful it was. Many of them had never seen the river from that perspective before and were greeted along the way by children waving and pitching flowers to them from the bridges.

A surprising find in a surprising place on the web. The find is an interview with Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan around the time of their 1960 reunion. (Wills had fired Duncan in 1949.) The place is on the website of psychotherapist Alyce Faye Eichelberger Cleese. (As you may have guessed, she was married, from 1996 to 2008, to John Cleese. She is a native of Frederick, Okla., and a graduate of OSU.) Her webmaster, Bob Richards, is a record producer who met Alyce Faye when he wound up producing her interview show on Santa Barbara radio station KZSB.

Bob Richards has had a fascinating life and career, which he recounts on his bio page. As a 12 year old in 1947 (the Tiffany Transcription era), he met Bob Wills at a dance in San Jose. In 1960, working as a for a Long Beach country music radio show, he produced a show with host Texas Tiny interviewing Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan in between songs dating back to the earliest days of the Texas Playboys (and before -- the two songs Bob recorded with Milton Brown during their days as Light Crust Doughboys). Bob and Tommy tell a fascinating story of how they wrote and recorded "I Wonder If You Feel the Way I Do" and shipped it air express to the plant in New Jersey all in the wee hours of one morning. Here's what Bob Richards writes about how Bob and Tommy got back together:

My next venture into radio was 1959. There was a local DJ named Texas Tiny (400 lbs at least) who worked on KFOX in Long Beach. Joe Allison, who wrote "He'll Have To Go," the Jim Reeves hit, also worked there as a DJ. Joe later became an A&R man at Liberty Records and reunited Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan in 1960 by signing them to separate contracts and putting both names on the albums.

You can find that 1960 Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan interview linked from Richards' bio page. On the same page, you'll find a brief 1978 interview with Texas Playboys fiddler Joe Holley.

Richards also has a YouTube channel with a bunch of Bob Wills film clips.


A demo Bob Wills radio show for B. F. Goodrich dealers with music, between-song patter, and a pitch by Cactus Jack that Bob Wills music will move merchandise. Other rarities on the same site include a recording of a Bob Wills performance for Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita in 1958, with a radio interview, in which Bob explains that Western Swing owes its start to the advent of the amplifier.

Slightly RELATED:

In an interview in The Times, John Cleese offers a sort of reason for the failure of his third marriage:

"It's very important for me that my friends have a sense of humour. To me it's the kind of touchstone of communication. Alyce Faye's sense of humour was not very European, because she was from Oklahoma and I used to joke that the Oklahoma Sense of Irony is one of the world's short books." How did he cope? "Well I just didn't make certain kinds of jokes around her."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Western Swing category from February 2010.

Western Swing: December 2009 is the previous archive.

Western Swing: March 2010 is the next archive.

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