Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bob Wills - The Essential Bob Wills 1935-1947 (1992)

Ah-ha! Today I visited the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage. It's an hour well spent, worth the $5 admission charge. As you can tell from the tally on the right, I'm not much of a country music person. I do, however, enjoy some Western Swing from time to time. Being from Texas, Bob Wills is a member of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, being inducted in 2000. (He's also in the Country Music Hall of Fame AND The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). However, even though I can appreciate Western Swing, it is one of those genres that I like for about 30 minutes, then I've had enough. Because of this fact, this is the only Western Swing CD in the collection. And today seemed like a good day to pull it out and give it a listen.

It's an interesting genre, to be sure. It's a combination of western, pop, polka, swing, and blues played by a jazz combo augmented with a few strings and a steel guitar. For an unusual but interesting book about Western Swing, I recommend Lone Star Swing by Duncan McLean (1998). Every year, I think about traveling out to Turkey in April for Bob Wills Day. One of these days...

Tracks: Of the 20 tracks here, my favorites are Osage Stomp, New San Antonio Rose, Twin Guitar Special, Miss Molly, Sugar Moon, Fat Boy Rag, and Bob Wills Boogie.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I like to play this CD in the truck when I travel solo across Texas. Perfect.

In the 2001, I was the artistic director of a small presenting organization in South Texas. One season, I booked a group that called themselves Bob Wills' Playboys or Texas Playboys II or something like that. It was all people that had played with Wills at some point before Wills' death in 1975. The leader of the group was steel guitarist Herb Remington and he handled all the booking. When I would call him about the gig, I could hear the TV and dogs barking in the background. I loved the informality of it all. So Remington rounded up a group that included fiddler Johnny Gimble and they met and rehearsed for about an hour, then they were ready to go (Saturday, September 15, 2001). Herb asked me how long I wanted them to play. They didn't even have a set list! After one song ended, somebody in the band would say something like, "Texas Playboy Rag in E. 1--2--1-2-3-4!" and off they'd go. Every now and then, someone would change the key because the vocal part was too high, but no one seemed to be bothered by the change. I asked them about it afterwards and they just shrugged and said they'd been playing the same music for the past 60 years. To me it was amazing.

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