Western Swing: January 2012 Archives

riders_in_the_sky-2009.jpgThe world's premier cowboy band, Riders in the Sky, will perform at this year's National Fiddler Hall of Fame gala on April 14, 2012, at Tulsa's historic Cain's Ballroom. The Riders' fiddler, Woody Paul, the King of the Cowboy Fiddlers, is one of this year's inductees into the hall of fame, along with championship fiddler Herman Johnson, from Shawnee; the late Keith Coleman, who performed with Leon McAuliffe and His Cimarron Boys and Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys; and the late Kenny Baker, of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. Tickets for the gala are on sale.

Riders in the Sky is one of our family's favorite musical groups: Beautiful harmonies on authentic songs of the west, classics from western movies, and original songs in the same genre, seasoned with comedy. I wish their weekly show, Riders Radio Theater, with its weekly western serial, were still on the air here. Riders Go Commercial has been played often at our house lately. (The thought of attending geezer training school seems more and more appealing every day.)

Here's Riders in the Sky, with Woody Paul playing and singing his original tune, "The Arms of My Love" (not a great recording here, but a beautiful song):

Here's Keith Coleman with a smoking solo on "Leon's Boogie," from an Ozark Jubliee appearance with Leon McAuliffe:

Here's a YouTube audio and still photo mix of Herman Johnson playing "I Don't Love Nobody."

And here's Kenny Baker with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys from 1971:

MORE: The National Fiddler Hall of Fame offers a "Lick of the Week," a weekly video demonstration of a fiddle lick you can add to your bag of tricks. Elsewhere on the site, you can find sheet music and audio for a few dozen traditional tunes.

Number 3 in our review of international western swing bands, building an invite list for that dreamed-of Tulsa International Festival of Western Swing. From Malmö, Sweden, it's the Swinging Hayriders with the "Texas Playboy Rag":

From the "Band" page on their official website:

Swinging Hayriders is a band from Malmö in southern Sweden, specialized in Western Swing. They cherish the old records from the 30´s and 40´s of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, Spade Cooley, Milton Brown, Tex Williams, Patsy Montana and others. The attentive listener may also hear influences like Benny Goodman, Django Reinhard, Nisse Lind and Bill Haley. This great music will never grow old!

Swinging Hayriders are ready to fullfill their sacred mission, to spread the blessings of Western Swing!


Here they are in a club setting, with vocalist Maria Stille this time, performing "You Can't Break My Heart":

You'll notice the crowd is mostly young people. They obviously love the music and are trying to dance to it, but they don't know how. I foresee a sacred mission to Sweden to spread the blessings of the Texas Two-Step.

The five-piece combo consists of steel guitar, standard guitar, piano (or accordion), bass, and drums.

You'll find several of their tunes, including "That's What I Like About the South" and "It's All Your Fault" on the Swinging Hayriders MySpace page. The most recent info about the band, and lots of photos (like the one above, from a recording session in Berlin) can be found at the Swinging Hayriders Facebook page.

MORE: Here's a scholarly article (PDF format) from the Journal of Texas Music History: "Texas Music In Europe" by Gary A. Hartman of Texas State University - San Marcos. The author visited France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Lithuania, talking to musicians who play western swing, bluegrass, honky tonk, zydeco, rockabilly, and other forms of American music found in Texas:

After discussing the mythology and folklore of Texas with the Bayer family, we all decided to attend a music festival in downtown Friedburg. Much to my surprise, there among the medieval walls of the "Altstadt," or "Old Town," we heard a local band of young Germans singing the Texas dance hall favorite, "Corrine, Corrina," in a strong Bavarian dialect. Although it is unclear exactly where this song originated, it was popularized among white country audiences by Bob Wills in the 1940s and now is a standard tune for western swing, country, and even many cajun bands throughout Texas. In any case, it was an extraordinary experience to witness how this song had found its way into the repertoire of a youthful folk-rock group singing in a Bavarian dialect that is rarely heard outside of southern Germany.

Second in our series documenting the international reach of western swing music and compiling an invite list for Tulsa's (purely hypothetical at this point) International Festival of Western Swing.

From the Bananapeel Jazzclub in Ruiselede, Belgium, here's Little Kim and the Alley Apple 3, performing the Johnnie Lee Wills song, "The Thingamajig," written by Cindy Walker. I enjoyed hearing her introduce the song in Flemish before singing it in unaccented English.

I don't believe her rig needs fixing at all.


From the band's website:

The story of "Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3" begins with an ad in the music section of "Den Artiest". By the end of 2005 Kimberly (vocals) was looking for a new musical project ... in the tradition of the great female performers of the hot jazz era, like: Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Blossom Dearie, Kay Starr, The Boswell Sisters, Bessie Smith, Mildred Bailey, ...

By the time Tom (Guitar) answered her ad ... he had already gathered around two fine musicians: the boy wonder of the lap steel guitar Pat Cattoir & the man with a plan Slappin' Slim (Bull Fiddle). Their intention was to go on the road with self written material ... in a traditional honky tonk style ... the kind Hank Williams would have liked .

When Kimberly and the gang finally met on a cold and windy winter evening, you could tell ... there was an immediate spark of inspiration between the four ... a spark that hasn't dimmed since ...


Photo from the band's Facebook page: "CC Cité Culture Brussel (photo: Freddy/ Rootsville)"

From an interview at Rockabilly Online:

Starting out as a singer, I was heavily influenced by Patsy Cline, Wanda Jackson, Peggy Lee, and too many to mention ...

Although "the Alley Apple 3" had a kind of honky tonk style in mind ... for everyone, it was very clear from the start that we needed to go ahead in this western swing genre. Mainly because my voice fits swing more than it fits honky tonk....

Sometimes we show up at a venue and people start coming in, dressed in cowboy boots and Indian costumes. No kidding They must think we play some cowboy- shooting-Indian-kind-of-music. But of course that's not really us. We just like to mix different genres ... and in the end, that's how western swing got started anyway. Mixing all kinds of music: polka, swing, jazz, honky tonk, ... It keeps it interesting for us.

Their gear, according to the description of a video of the band performing "Whoa Babe" and an original tune, "Before the Storm":

Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3 use:

a 1949 Fender Custom Double 8 lapsteel guitar
a 1848 French Double Bass 'Charotte Millot-Mirrecourt'
a 1947 Gibson L7 archtop
2 Gibson BR 6 amps (both 1951)
a fifties Floating Dearmond Pickup (Mod 1000 Rhythm Chief)
a fifties Floating Dearmond Pickup (Mod FCH-C)
a vintage Ampeg Portaflex bass amp
a Gibson 1955 L49 archtop
a Fender silverface Vibrolux amp


Little Kim and the Alley Apple 3 on YouTube
Little Kim and the Alley Apple 3 on Facebook

Things are busy with a couple of projects, but I feel compelled to update this blog from time to time, so I thought I'd begin to document, one music video at a time, the international reach of western swing. Consider this series the beginnings of an invite list for Tulsa's International Festival of Western Swing.


Here's a trio from Prague, Czech Republic, called Jiří Králík & Rowdy Rascals. (Jiří is the Czech version of the name George.) Králík is an alumnus of Mark O'Connor's fiddle school in Nashville, and he's finishing his studies at a jazz conservatory in Prague. Here they are, performing "Roly Poly," at the 2008 Country Rendez-vous Festival in Craponne-sur-Arzon, France.

And here they are with a high-speed version of Ida Red, with guitarist Jiří Bok taking the lead vocals:

Turnabout is fair play. You've had a Czech band playing American songs, so here's an American band playing a Czech song: Cracker, performing "The Shiner Song."

Tulsa_Playboys-20120112.jpgLocal western swing band, the Tulsa Playboys, play their monthly dance tonight (Thursday, January 12, 2012) at Cain's Ballroom tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 and can be purchased at the door or by phone at (866) 977-6849. Student tickets ($5) are available only at the door.

According to Shelby Eicher, posting on the TexasPlayboys.net discussion board, they'll have triple fiddles tonight with Jake Duncan added to their usual lineup: Shelby Eicher and Rick Morton, fiddles; Steve Ham, trombone; Mike Bennett, trumpet; Steve Bagsby, steel; Spencer Sutton, piano; Rodney Lay, bass; Ryan Shephard, drummer and Danny McBride, guitar.

Distinctly Oklahoma magazine has a great story in their January 2012 issue about the Tulsa Playboys and the Tulsa western swing tradition they've inherited from Bob Wills and Cain's Ballroom.

The article is headed by a great quote from Bob Wills that gets to the heart of western swing: "I need no applause. The only clapping I want to hear comes from the sound of dancing feet...."

(No mention, though, of two former Texas Playboys who kept western swing going in Tulsa long after World War II, when Bob left for California: Johnnie Lee Wills, who carried on for another 14 years or so at Cain's and on KVOO, and Leon McAuliffe, whose Cimarron Boys played at the Playmor and Cimarron Ballrooms and on KRMG.)


DFW.com has a story this week about the western swing scene in Fort Worth and the rest of Texas, mentioning Hot Club of Cowtown, Asleep at the Wheel (both based in Austin), Shoot Low Sheriff (from Dallas), Great Recession Orchestra (from Fort Worth), the Quebe Sisters Band, and the long-running Light Crust Doughboys, founded by Bob Wills and Milton Brown in 1931 for a radio show advertising a flour mill, before they launched their own bands. That article has several embedded videos of the aforementioned bands.

The story also links to the website of Western Swing Monthly, which has a calendar of all the big western swing festivals around the country.

Tommy_Duncan-20120114.jpgComing up this Saturday, January 14, 2012, in Hillsboro, Texas, (where I-35 W meets I-35 E south of DFW) is the 2nd Annual Tommy Duncan Celebration, remembering the talented Texas Playboys vocalist on his 101st birthday. Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys will perform from 1:30 to 4:30, a catered dinner from 4:30 to 6:30, and then Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition performs from 7 to 10, with Floyd Domino and Dave Alexander. Billy's voice has an uncanny resemblance to Tommy's, and he is in the midst of issuing a trilogy of albums tracing Tommy Duncan's career. Call Pam Hulme-Townley in advance for tickets and guaranteed seating -- 817-456-4601. You'll find all the details about the Tommy Duncan Celebration at this link. The story in the Hillsboro Reporter notes that they're still working on a documentary about Duncan:

A documentary on Tommy Duncan, entitled "In The Shadow of the King," by director Curtis Callaway and his crew from Baylor University continues in its production. It will include interviews with many of the former Texas Playboys, other prominent members of the Western Swing community, plus the official Cowboy Poet of Texas, Red Stegall.

The documentary also will feature interviews with Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.
The documentary is in need of funding. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, visit www.tommyduncan.org.

The Reporter story also mentions that Scottish playwright Duncan MacLean will be at the Tommy Duncan Celebration. MacLean is also a guitarist in the Orkney Islands-based Lone Star Swing Band, and the band is in the US to perform MacLean's play Long Gone Lonesome about the life of Shetland Islands musician and fisherman Thomas Fraser.

When you consider the worldwide reach that western swing music has, with fans and bands from Tulsa to the Orkneys to Japan to Australia, don't you think there ought to be an international western swing festival to bring those bands and fans together, and don't you think it ought to be right here in Tulsa?


Here are the Tulsa Playboys with "Miss Molly," from last July:

Here are the Quebe Sisters, putting the swing in western swing playing triple fiddles on "Take the 'A' Train":

But you really have to hear them sing -- here they are on "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie," from their 2010 UK tour:

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Western Swing category from January 2012.

Western Swing: October 2011 is the previous archive.

Western Swing: March 2012 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]