The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 352
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The original set of articles-mostly completed by 1999-reflects a variety of
approaches to the study of Texas music in its regional social context. Both
Oliphant, on jazz, and John Lightfoot, on early bluesmen, offer a chronological
sequence of biographies, while Larry Wolz's history of the German classical mu-
sic tradition focuses on institutions. Jose Angel Gutierrez, a political scientist and
Chicano activist (founder of the Raza Unida Party in the 1970s) is the contribu-
tor for Tejano music. Not surprisingly, the political scientist tends to prevail over
the music historian here, and this reader found the transitions from social and
economic history to the music a bit disjointed at times. Perhaps the most effec-
tive interweaving of social and cultural history with stylistic developments and
musical biographies is Roger Wood's chapter on black Creoles and zydeco music
in Houston and southeast Texas. Wood writes with an authoritative yet flowing
narrative well suited to a general readership only vaguely aware of the defini-
tions and meanings of Creole culture. Most important, he anchors his story in
the wards of Houston in fulfillment of his mission to explore the Texas roots of
the music. The different perspectives of all the authors of this scholarly and
readable volume enrich the continuing dialogue that revolves around Texas and
its fabled music.
University of Texas at Austin John Wheat
"We're the Light Crust Doughboys from Burrus Mill": An Oral History. By Jean A. Boyd.
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003. Pp. x+164. Preface, illustrations,
afterword, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-292-70916-1, $40.00, cloth;
ISBN 0-292-70925-0. $18.95, paper.)
The Light Crust Doughboys are on the Air: Celebrating Seventy Years of Texas Music. By
John Mark Dempsey. (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2002. Pp.
ix+294. Foreword, illustrations, postscript, appendices, references, index.
ISBN 1-57441-151-9. $29.95, cloth, with music CD.)
The music most commonly referred to as western swing is an energetic, eclec-
tic blend of fiddle breakdowns, blues, ragtime, jazz, and other musical styles cob-
bled together by Milton Brown, Bob Wills, and others in northern Texas and
southern Oklahoma during the 1930s and 1940s. This unique hybrid of Anglo,
African, Mexican, and German musical traditions quickly spread beyond the
Southwest, as over three million Texans and Oklahomans, displaced by the De-
pression-era Dust Bowl, migrated to California and elsewhere, taking their music
with them. By the 1950s, western swing was being overshadowed by the emer-
gence of honky tonk and other new variations of country music, which had bor-
rowed extensively from the western swing style.
When western swing was "re-discovered" by younger audiences in the 1970s
and 198os, largely due to tributes by Merle Haggard, Asleep at the Wheel,
George Strait, and other nationally popular performers, most of the credit for
creating this distinct music was given to Bob Wills, the so-called "king" of western
swing. Without a doubt, Wills was the most prominent and prolific leader of the
western swing movement. His ability to organize and promote first-rate bands, as
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/396/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.