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Vancouver, BC Canada

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2016-17 Newsletter Cover
FOUR  THINGS  YOU  SHOULD  KNOW  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  jazzmen, 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 issue of our newsletter online!


WESTERN SWING MUSIC SOCIETY
3565 CAMBRIDGE STREET
VANCOUVER, B.C.  
V5K 1M3                

Contact – John York  email or phone: 604-299-2301