The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 353
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well as his genius for innovation, made Wills more responsible than any other
single person for spreading the popularity of western swing.
However, in recent years, scholars and fans have begun to understand that, al-
though Wills certainly towered above all other figures in the genre, western
swing owes its genesis and its unique evolution to a variety of musicians, each of
whom contributed in important ways to its development.
One such group that has been largely overlooked is the Light Crust Dough-
boys. The Doughboys, originally formed by Bob Wills and Milton Brown in early
1931 to help sell Burrus Mill's Light Crust Flour over the radio, was, by far, one
of the most important and influential western swing groups ever. During its sev-
enty-year history, the band recorded numerous songs, entertained millions of
fans through radio broadcasts and live performances, and nurtured dozens of
musicians who went on to play key roles in the development of western swing
and mainstream country music.
After so many years of receiving such little recognition, it is perhaps ironic
that two books about the Doughboys now appear at almost the same time. The
two publications do rely on several common sources and cover some of the same
ground. However, in the end, these two books complement each other well and
provide a very thorough and entertaining look at this seminal musical group.
Boyd's We're the Light Crust Doughboys from Burrus Mzll is somewhat more schol-
arly in tone, although it is written in a manner that is still very accessible to a
nonacademic audience. Boyd's first chapter, "Setting the Scene," does a nice job
of placing western swing into historical context by discussing the social, political,
and economic landscape of Texas in the late 192os and early 193os. Boyd em-
phasizes that several crucial factors helped influence the Southwest's musical de-
velopment during this period. She points out that Texas has always been a
unique ethno-musical crossroads, Texans share a particular view of themselves in
relation to the rest of the world, and the Great Depression created an environ-
ment in which music was especially important in helping shape and reflect the
important changes taking place within American society.
Boyd draws from many of the same sources as Dempsey, but often includes
slightly different parts of interviews or relies on interviews she conducted herself
in order to provide a somewhat different perspective. In addition, Boyd's em-
phasis on historical context and more theoretical analysis of the music adds im-
portant understanding to the story of western swing and the crucial role that the
Dempsey's The Lzght Crust Doughboys are on the Air is also well researched and
well written and seems to be geared more toward a nonacademic audience. At
nearly twice the length of Boyd's book, Dempsey's includes many colorful anec-
dotes that help the reader gain a true sense of the interpersonal dynamics of this
band, as well as the other musicians, promoters, producers, and fans that have
kept western swing going for so many years. Similar to Boyd, Dempsey relies ex-
tensively on interviews with banjoist Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery, who led the
Doughboys from 1935 until his death in 2001. Montgomery was an incredibly
talented musician, singer, and songwriter who went on to produce such 1960s
hits as "Hey, Baby," by Bruce Channel and "Hey, Paula," by Paul and Paula.
Boyd and Dempsey both include very helpful bibliographies and discogra-
phies, although Dempsey's are more extensive. Dempsey also includes a CD with
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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/m1/397/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.