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Western swing

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Western swing

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Western swing is, first and foremost, a style of jazz.[1] It is dance music with an up-tempo beat and a decidedly Southwestern United States regional flavor. It consists of an eclectic combination of country, cowboy, polka, and folk music, blended with a jazzy "swing", with a tip of the hat to New Orleans jazz and Delta blues, and played by a hot string band often augmented with drums, saxophones, pianos and, notably, the pedal steel guitar.

It originated in the dance halls, road houses and county fairs of small towns throughout the Lower Great Plains in the 1920's and 1930's.[2] With the advent of radio broadcasting, it gained a much wider following and reached its "golden age" in the post-WWII era of the mid-forties reflecting the waxing and waning of the more mainstream big-band sound. Spade Cooley coined the term 'Western swing' in the early 1940's.

Notable bands from the early era included:

Al Dexter and His Troopers
The Light Crust Doughboys
Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys
Milton Brown and his Brownies
The Southern Melody Boys
The High Flyers
The Tune Wranglers
Adolph Hofner and his San Antonians
Floyd Tillman
Bill Boyd and the Cowboy Ramblers
Dude Martin and His Roundup Gang
Spade Cooley and His Orchestra
Deuce Spriggens and His Orchestra
Tex Williams and the Western Caravan
"Texas" Jim Lewis and His Lone Star Cowboys
Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys
Bill Haley and the Saddlemen (later - Bill Haley and the Comets)
The Forth Worth Doughboys
Doug Bine and his Dixie Ramblers
Jimmie Revard and his Oklahoma Playboys
The Washboard Wonders
Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers
Buddy Jones
Sons of the Pioneers
Smokey Wood and the Wood Chips
Hank Penny and his Radio Cowboys
W. Lee O'Daniel and his Hillbilly Boys
Porky Freeman
Carolina Cotton (yodeler who sang with several Western Swing groups)
Ocie Stockard and the Wanderers

Later bands and artists of the genre (or influenced by it):

Asleep at the Wheel
Merle Haggard & the Strangers
Willie Nelson
Waylon Jennings
Riders in the Sky
Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen
The Hot Club of Cowtown
Wayne Hancock
The Red Dirt Rangers
Don Walser and the Pure Texas Band



  1.   Boyd, Jean Ann. Jazz of the Southwest: An Oral History of Western Swing. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998. ISBN 0292708599
  2.   Kienzle, Rich. Southwest Shuffle: Pioneers of Honky Tonk, Western Swing, and Country Jazz. New York: Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0415941024


  • Ginell, Cary. Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994. ISBN 0252020413
  • Ginell, Cary; Kevin Coffey. Discography of western swing and hot string bands, 1928-1942. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001. ISBN 0313311161
  • Wetlock, E. Clyde; Richard Drake Saunders (eds.). Music and dance in Texas, Oklahoma, and the Southwest. Hollywood, CA: Bureau of Musical Research, 1950.

External links

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.