Western Swing: July 2015 Archives

Soundies from 1946, featuring Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. This is the same lineup as the early Tiffany Transcriptions sessions: Tommy Duncan and the McKinney Sisters (Dean and Evelyn) on vocals, Bob Wills, Joe Holley, and Louis Tierney on fiddle, Noel Boggs on steel guitar, Millard Kelso on piano, Junior Barnard on guitar, Alex Brashear on trumpet, Johnny Cuviello on drums, Luke Wills on bass. The songs are "Texas Playboy Rag," "I Betcha My Heart I Love Ya," "San Antonio Rose," and "Goodbye Liza Jane."

That's quite a guitar solo on that last number. Here's a nice tribute to the man responsible, innovative guitarist Junior Barnard.

And here's a bonus, a collection of unreleased Bob Wills Big Band sides from 1941 -- "La Paloma," "The Girl I Left Behind Me," "Liebestraum," "When It's Honeysuckle Time in the Valley," and "Maiden's Prayer."

Okie Boogie remix

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A reader sends along this interesting remix of "Oakie Boogie" by a Bristol-based DJ called Howla. (That's Bristol, England -- another indication of the international audience for western swing and related genres of American music.)

The song "Oakie Boogie" (spelled "Okie Boogie" after the "a" was dropped from the toponym), written by western swing vocalist Johnny Tyler in 1947:

It was a #3 hit for Jack Guthrie the same year. Here he is singing "Oakie Boogie" in his only film appearance

Five years later Ella Mae Morse, accompanied by legendary steel guitarist and sometime Tulsan Speedy West, recorded a version, arranged by Nelson Riddle, that reached #23 on the charts, and that's the version sampled by Howla.

A word about the songwriter, Johnny Tyler: The same year he recorded "Oakie Boogie" with his own band, he did a couple of recording sessions with Luke Wills and His Rhythm Busters for RCA. Luke Wills, the third-eldest of the four Wills brothers, helped meet the demand for Bob Wills music with his own touring band covering California and the west. Many of the Texas Playboys performed and recorded with Luke's band, moving between the two bands as needed -- the Luke Wills discography includes Texas Playboys greats like guitarists Eldon Shamblin and Junior Barnard (sometimes together!), pianist Millard Kelso, fiddlers Joe Holley and Cotton Thompson, drummer Johnny Cuviello, and Tommy Duncan's little brother Glynn Duncan. When Bob Wills hired Herb Remington in 1946 to play steel guitar, he sent the incumbent steel player, Roy Honeycutt, to Luke's band.

When RCA signed Luke to a recording contract, they paired him with vocalist Tommy Doss for several sessions. While Doss later found fame as a cowboy balladeer, taking Bob Nolan's place when he retired from Sons of the Pioneers, his nasal, tremulous voice wasn't a good fit for western swing:

(This page claims that Bob Wills discovered Doss in 1948 and hired him to tour with the Texas Playboys to replace the recently fired Tommy Duncan. But Doss had recorded "At the End of the Lane" and "Moonlight on the Prairie" with the Texas Playboys on the May 30-31, 1947, Tiffany Transcriptions session in San Francisco, and he recorded with Luke Wills in July, October, and November 1947, so he would have already been well known to the extended Wills musical family.)

After the July 1947 session with Tommy Doss on vocals, Luke Wills moved Doss to guitar and Johnny Tyler from guitar to vocals for the October and November sessions. For a direct contrast, Here's Tommy Doss with Luke Wills and His Rhythm Busters on "High Voltage Gal," preceded by "Cain's Stomp" -- a new version of "Osage Stomp," the first song the Texas Playboys ever recorded.

Now here's the same song and same band, with Johnny Tyler on vocals. (Embedding is disabled so you'll have to go to the link.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Western Swing category from July 2015.

Western Swing: May 2015 is the previous archive.

Western Swing: October 2015 is the next archive.

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