OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – If you’re someone who pays attention to unique sounds, especially rhythmic sounds, you can find inspiration often floating on the wind.
Somewhere between Jazz and Country, argue music fans like Robert Huston and Mike Marquardt, is a musical genre that was never too proud to gather influences from whatever sounded right.
Huston explains, “Western Swing encompasses everything. It pulls in jazz, blues, dixieland, polkas, waltzes, mariachi songs. It’s got it all.”
They, and a host of other musicians and historians, make the case for Western Swing in a full-length documentary that screened recently at the Oklahoma History Center.
Both producer and film maker are longtime Western Swing fans who bristle at the notion of Western Swing as a sub-category of anything.
“We want people to understand,” Huston continues, “that Western Swing is, in no way, Country music. It has influenced Country.”
Marquardt confirms, “It uses all kinds of sounds, but there is always a good dance beat behind it.”
They also argue that the ‘King of Western Swing’, Bob Wills, moved to Tulsa and his daily radio broadcasts from Cain’s Ballroom in the 1930’s helped the genre escape from its roots in Texas and spread across the country.
Huston states, “KVOO-AM’s booming 25,000-watt signal carried Western Swing and Bob Wills’ music from western Arkansas all the way to Hawaii.”
Wills passed away in the 1970’s but he saw his music influence today’s Country, Rockabilly, and Rock and Roll.
“It’s its own thing,” Huston quips. “It stands alone.”
Western Swing in the 1930’s kept a weary nation tapping its worn out shoes.
From its famous fans, to its proud champions, and to people who still like to 2-step or shuffle on a dance floor, Western Swing is still on the wind, not too proud to show up just about anywhere.
The film is titled, ‘The Birth and History of Western Swing’. Producers screened it to a small audience at the Oklahoma History Center April 15, 2023.
It’s due for wider release later in the year.
To view the trailer can be seen on youtube.com.
Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union