Music: Western Swing in Texas in 1930


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Even though the Great Depression was a time of suffering economically, it was also a time for creativity in country music. Wester swing appeared in Texas in the 1930s and quickly spread to other states. The exciting new sound appealed to many teens in the 1920s. By the 1930s they had taken the reels, waltzes, fiddle breakdowns, and other styles they had learned from their elders and combined them with blues, rags, jazz, swing, and pop to create a remarkably diverse and dynamic new sound that would come to be known as Western swing (Hartman, 144).
The “king of Western swing,” Bob Wills, was a prominent figure from the 1930s through 1950s. At at a young age he learned to play the fiddle and he and his father performed at dances and other social gatherings. He was exposed to other genres of music as a young boy such a blues, conjunto and mariachi, but it was the new sounds of jazz that inspired him to experiment with traditional country music. In 1929 Wills moved to Fort Worth, Texas, were he formed a band, the Wills Fiddle Band, which would soon change to Light Crust Doughboys. Their music was played was played on the Fort Worth radio station, KFJZ radio, and their unique sound quickly spread which is what the radio advertisers needed during the economic downfall. However, in 1933 Wills left the band and formed a new one called Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys and they toured together over the next forty years. In 1945 Wills appeared at the Grand Ole Opry and insisted that there be a horn and drum section on stage. The audience was surprisingly pleased with this unwanted change by the directors. Despite his somewhat strained relationship with Nashville, the local country music establishment formally recognized Wills and his important overall impact on country music when the Country Music Association Hall of Fame inducted him in 1968 (Hartman, 146). Bob Wills died in 1975, but was still a major influence in up and coming young country artists like Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, George Strait and Lee Ann Womack.

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I think Western swing is western music even though it is heavily influenced by other genres. Any new genre of music is going to be influenced by another genre or have a genre incorporated into it. That is how new genres are formed and shaped. So, Western swing is definitely a subgenre of western music. Bob Wills is a prime example of that, especially since he influenced major country artists today and was inducted into the Country Music Association Hall of Fame.


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