Watch the History and Players online guitar lesson by Jason Loughlin from Focus On: Western Swing
Western Swing was a term given by the press to the dance music in the south created by bands like The Light Crust Doughboys, Bob Wills and The Playboys, Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies, Spade Cooley and His Orchestra, The Modern Mountaineers and The Fort Worth Doughboys. Most of these bands rose out of the Tulsa, Oklahoma music scene. Western swing enjoyed a popular run from the late 20's to the early 40's. It's influences can traced to Appalachian music, Cowboy, Polka, Dixieland, Swing and Blues. The instrument driving it all early on was the fiddle. It served the same roll that trumpet or clarinet does in Dixieland music. The fiddle was responsible for establishing the melody of the tune and filling around the vocal. It wasn't long though until western swing gave rise to the lap steel guitar. Lap steel becomes integral part of the western swing sound by the mid 30's. Players like Leon McAuliffe, Joaquin Murphey and Herb Remington were the primary contributors. Other notable instruments associated with western swing are the accordion which passed down from the polka, saxophone, piano, drum set and banjo. Banjo was soon replaced by the guitar though. Good thing too! Otherwise, we would all have to buy banjos to play western swing and let's face it, nobody wants that. Sorry, banjo players. We have Bob Wills and Spade Cooley to thank for being so adventurous with western swings instrumentation. A lot of these bands evolved out of each other or shared members. It was fairly common for a player to leave to start up his own band or to go play with a better paying outfit. Here's a list of players you should check out. Eldon Shamblin, Jimmy Wyble, "Junior" Barnard, Muriel "Zeke" Campbell, Benny Garcia, Tommy Morrell, Billy Dozier, Bob Kiser and Leon Rhodes.