Lone Star Swing: On the Trail of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

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9780099534716: Lone Star Swing: On the Trail of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

Duncan McLean travelled from Orkney to Texas in spring of 1995, to go in search of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, purveyors of the hybrid of jazz, blues, country and mariachi that is Western Swing. Paying homage to Bob Wills' hometown "Turkey", McLean captures the absurdities of Texas.

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Duncan McLean has a dilemma. He's head over heels for a music that's not only going out of style, but is found most prevalently in Texas ... a long way from his home in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. In 1995, having exhausted Scotland's supply of western swing, McLean travels to America, rents a Chevy Cavalier, and heads west to explore the birthplace, meet the makers, and dig up the roots of the sounds with which he's fallen in love. As he describes it: "This is the hottering chili-pot of New Orleans Jazz, old country fiddling, big- band swing, ragtime, blues, pop, mariachi and conjunto that dominated Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and beyond--all the way to San Francisco in the west, Memphis in the east--from the mid-Thirties till mid-Elvis. This is western swing."

Lone Star Swing is both musical pilgrimage and witty travelogue. As McLean trails his favourite music over the back roads of Texas, his adventures make for interesting reading. He has a way of making you feel you're riding along in the passenger seat as he finds the top ten things to do in Turkey, Texas, on Bob Wills Day (Bob is McLean's western-swing hero), learns how to nibble an onion cooked up sunflower style at the Presidio Onion Festival, gets lectured for cussing in front of ladies after his Chevy gets its doors rehung by a hit-and-run driver, and suffers the wrath of Gulf Coast prawns eaten too far from their home waters. And although he's far away from the Orkney Islands, McLean has a way of making himself at home just about every place the music takes him.

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