The home page of the Western Swing Society describes western swing as “a division of the American phenomenon known as jazz [fusing] elements of musical roots…including blues, Dixieland, ragtime, big band, country, pop, and breakdowns.” That kind of explains why we revisit this genre so often here on Deeper Roots. What it has most in common with jazz is the use of improvisation; what it does try to do is to take things one step further: make it dance-able. The foot-tapping rhythm and the encouragement of participation drew audiences far and wide from the north, south, east and west. This week show meanders through some fun sounds including tracks Hank Penny, Milton Brown, Ocie Stockard, and (of course) Bob Wills. We’ll have some tribute songs and old standards for you on Sonoma County community radio.
A laid back Friday morning in store as we celebrate a century of America’s music with classics from every corner. Dave Stroud hosts with a potpourri of doo wop, gospel, rock, R&B, soul, and country wrapped up just for Deeper Roots listeners out there. We’ll be hearing from Johnny Cash, The Ravens, Mike Farris, (more than one) Bo Diddley, and The Neville Brothers as we watch the trees turn their late summer umber under warm Sonoma County September skies. Tune in for the very best, including The Living Sisters and The Andrews Sisters, side by side, this one time. Only on Community Radio because all other $$$ stations fail to play with heart.
Country swing is the thing this morning on Deeper Roots. We won’t be spending time on the ancestral roots as much as we’ll be exploring the small local bands of the Southwest. We’ll use Jean A. Boyd’s excellent reference “Dance All Night : Those Other Southwestern Swing Bands Past and Present” as our rudder and guidebook in the show. The heartbeat of any American genre is usually the local band and during the later years of the Great Depression and throughout the Second World War people were looking for something uplifting to dance to. In Texas (and really all across the Southwest) the sound was country swing: a mix of jazz, blues, polka, latin and hillbilly fiddle. We’ll be featuring the small time big names like The Tune Wranglers, Cliff Bruner, Leon Selph, Floyd Tillman, and Adolph Hofner and so many more in our show this morning, direct from our studios in downtown Sebastopol.
It’s a time that followed the second World War and baked into its foundation were the sounds of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Spade Cooley, Bob Wills among others. The music was inspired by bluegrass, folk, blues, and jazz with Country Swing and barn dances sparking a popularity that blanketed the American musical landscape from the Pacific to the southern Atlantic. It was a sound that solidified the title of “Country and Western” and he’ll be sharing some of the great performances in this week’s episode: Patsy Cline, Little Jimmy Dickens, George Jones, Ferlin Husky, and Webb Pierce…just to name a few. While the sound would fade away sometime around the turn of the seventies, when rock n’ roll would elbow it (more like steamroll it) out in popularity on the airwaves, it is revered and restated to this day as a cornerstone of what we recognize as Americana music.
White line fever…that endless gray ribbon…asphalt mixed with bennies…and a whole lot of attitude around semis, mile markers, county mounties, and bobtail returns. Terminology you won’t hear too much on our show…except for this show which shares the songs of the long-haulers. Bill Kirchen, Red Simpson, Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard are just a sample of the performers joining in the fun where Cliff Bruner & His Boys introduce us to the first truck driving song “Truck Driver Blues” right up to that bad boy honky tonkin’ guitar trucker Dale Watson. You can’t escape the 18 wheel energy on Sonoma County Community Radio…straight from the Bakersfield asphalt to yours.
Enduring and prolific…country and pop songwriter Cindy Walker’s name is not as familiar to many but her music certainly is. She wrote early western-flavored pop and country swing pieces for performers like Bing Crosby and Bob Wills, composing hits for Hank Snow, Gene Autry, Al Dexter, Eddy Arnold, and others…almost owning the country charts in the 1940s. Her music endured well into the sixties and seventies, covered by Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, and dozens more. Her custom was to rise early and write songs, typing her lyrics on a pink-trimmed manual Royal typewriter while her mother, Oree Walker, would work out the melodies to her daughter’s words. They would station themselves in Nashville five months out of the year to help market the music, returning home to Mexia, Texas where Cindy would live out her life. Join us on a special run of Americana: the songs of Cindy Walker.
Join Dave Stroud for two hours of the very best of country swing music on Deeper Roots Radio: A Century of America’s Music. The west had been long-settled when a new sound exploded out of the dance halls and barn-dance venues of the Midwest that was to become popular for it’s upbeat blend of jazz, hillbilly, and down-home blues. The arrangements blended strings, guitar, fiddle and bass, with the rhythmic sounds of urban jazz to reveal something catchy and danceable…and marketable. Before the beat was modernized into the mass market country blandness that paralleled mainstream pop, there were the pioneers including Milton Brown, Bob Wills, Adolph Hofner, Spade Cooley, Light Crust Doughboys, and a host of others.
Once considered in its earliest forms a noble instrument, the history of the guitar can be traced back over forty centuries (yes, that’s 4000 years). While we won’t got back quite so far in our exploration, we will explore the popular form of this instrument in song this week. We’re not going after the genius as much as we go after the topic with songs whose theme is that of the guitar. It seems that there has always been a personal connection between the instrument and the player, sometimes as a confidant and others as a foil. Our show will feature yodeling guitars, lonely guitars, Bo’s guitar, long-legged pickers, amigos, and a number of performances about ‘one’s first guitar’. Join Dave Stroud for plenty in a guitar themed journey.
West County has seen it’s first consistent (and consecutive) days of rain and boy did we need it. El Nino looks to be making some waves. We’ll be making some waves this week on our Wednesday night foray into the past century of America’s music. We’ll hear new music from the Oxford American Georgia music issue, as well as a good share of early country, some Stephen Foster (by the Hamilton County Ramblers), and some Jelly Roll Morton. There will be a few local performers to sweeten the mix: Kevin Russell, Carl Hendel & Eddie Meisse, and an alumni of Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa…Dan Hicks. Tune in for music that keeps on giving.
A bit of a celebration is in order. We will be broadcasting live from the new KOWS studios located in downtown Sebastopol with a playlist that scours the last century of America’s music for relevant sounds and themes that relate: songs of settling into home, saying goodbye, moving on, going west (or east, that is), and ‘getting gone’. We’ll feature The Cats & The Fiddle, local favorites Markus James and Doug Blumer & The Bohemian Highway, “Little” Jimmy Dickens, and a host of others who welcome us into our new home on Gravenstein Highway…or, as it is formally known hereabouts, Main Street.