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FOUR THINGS YOU SHOULD
ABOUT WESTERN SWING
1) Western Swing is dance music. Its roots are in the
small fiddle bands that played for country dances in the American
Southwest. By the 1940's western swing bands often equaled
the big bands in size, sophistication, and popularity, playing for
audiences as large as 5 to 6,000 in the great dance halls and pavilions
that could be found in every large city in the U.S. and Canada. Even on
the slow tunes a western swing drummer would lean into the beat,
providing a solid rhythm for the dancers.
2) Western swing isn't exactly country music. Western swing
instrumental styles have had a profound influence on the development of
modern country music, but western swing itself has always had more of
an urban outlook. Even when the bands play a country dance
tune, it's filtered through a jazz sensibility. Improvisation is
central to the music, the soloists building on the energy of the
audience; and the music has to swing. They may have come
from the country, but western swing musicians saw themselves as
and rightly so.
3) Rock and Roll wasn't the first time. There's a
popular notion that Elvis and his peers were the first to synthesize
black and white music styles. The early western swing
musicians were equally inspired by black blues and jazz in the early
1930s, adapting what they heard into their own traditions.
All of a sudden the fiddles were rifling like a big band reed section,
and the newly amplified guitars and steel guitars sounding like
horns. Bob Wills' favourite singer was blues artiste,
Bessie Smith; his Texas Playboys always featured plenty of blues
numbers and later Western swing bands drew on boogie woogie, jump
blues, rhythm and blues - even bebop.
4) Western Swing lives ! The Vancouver Western Swing Music
Society is one of a number of organizations in North American dedicated
to keeping this great music alive. Its membership includes
musicians who have played western swing since the 1940's, as well as
many younger fans and enthusiasts. One of the society's
primary activities to to hold western swing showcases, hoping to
expose a wider audience to western swing and the musicians who play it.
Read a sample article from the current
of our newsletter online!
WESTERN SWING MUSIC SOCIETY
3565 CAMBRIDGE STREET
Contact – John York email
or phone: 604-299-2301