EpisodeFirst
Broadcast
Description
0120091110
In the 1930s, when the urban dance halls of America were ringing to the swing sounds of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie, a unique form of dance music was taking hold in the rural South West.
Exposed to big band influences through the radio, rural string bands took jazz and big band music and adapted it for their traditional instruments.
Country fiddles, banjos and steel guitars played alongside horns, drums and pianos.
Also feeding into this music were the diverse cultural influences prevalent in 1930s Texas and Oklahoma.
This was an area filled with the sounds of different communities.
Czech and German polka, Mexican mariachi, Cajun and blues were all part of the soundtrack of the Southwest and bled into this new style of music, which would later become known as 'Western Swing'.
It was a sound which was to become the lifeblood of the Texan dancehall for the next twenty years, and provide America with a musician regarded by many as 'the best band leader of all time' - Bob Wills.
In this five part series Ray Benson, the founder and lead singer of Grammy winning Western Swing band 'Asleep at the Wheel' charts the history and development of this music.
He celebrates the people who created, developed and refined the Western Swing sound, and joins some of the players, enthusiasts and fans who are keeping this unique part of America's musical history alive for the next generation.
The series features contributions from Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and The Hot Club of Cowtown plus former members of 'Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys' Johnny Gimble, Herb Remington, Bobby Koefer, Louise Rowe and Leon Rausch.
The first part of the series explores the cultural and musical background of the American Southwest which gave rise to the development of this music.
We travel to the rural dance halls of Texas, and hear some of the music that surrounded Western swing bandleader Bob Wills during his early career, and hear about his relationship with former cigar salesman Milton Brown which led to the formation of 'The Light Crust Doughboys' - the precursors to the Western swing sound.
The definition of Western Swing is hard to pin down - it's a style, an approach, a certain line-up of instruments, a particular beat, a fusion of different kinds of music - it's improvisation, it's strings and horns, it's country with jazz instruments, it's jazz with country instruments.
It's music with a smile on its face, music to make people happy and most of all it's music to make people dance " ( Part 1 - That Western Swing Thing).
Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson charts the history of Western Swing music."
0220091117
In the 1930s, when the urban dance halls of America were ringing to the swing sounds of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie, a unique form of dance music was taking hold in the rural South West.
Exposed to big band influences through the radio, rural string bands took jazz and big band music and adapted it for their traditional instruments.
Country fiddles, banjos and steel guitars played alongside horns, drums and pianos.
Also feeding into this music were the diverse cultural influences prevalent in 1930s Texas and Oklahoma.
This was an area filled with the sounds of different communities.
Czech and German polka, Mexican mariachi, Cajun and blues were all part of the soundtrack of the Southwest and bled into this new style of music, which would later become known as 'Western Swing'.
It was a sound which was to become the lifeblood of the Texan dancehall for the next twenty years, and provide America with a musician regarded by many as 'the best band leader of all time' - Bob Wills.
In this five part series Ray Benson, the founder and lead singer of Grammy winning Western Swing band 'Asleep at the Wheel' charts the history and development of this music.
He celebrates the people who created, developed and refined the Western Swing sound, and joins some of the players, enthusiasts and fans who are keeping this unique part of America's musical history alive for the next generation.
The series features contributions from Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and The Hot Club of Cowtown plus former members of 'Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys' Johnny Gimble, Herb Remington, Bobby Koefer, Louise Rowe and Leon Rausch.
In the second part of the series Ray Benson charts the early careers of Western Swing bandleaders Bob Wills and Milton Brown.
After meeting at a house party in 1930 the two men went on to perform together in a series of bands , culminating in 'The Light Crust Doughboys' , named after their radio sponsors Light Crust Flour.
The programme explores how this band provided the launch pad for the two biggest Western swing bands of the 1930s - 'Bob Wills and his Texas playboys', and 'Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies'.
We also hear about the importance of instrumentation and improvisation to the Western swing sound, and how the role of the singer became key to the popularity of the music.
Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson charts the history of Western Swing music.
0320091124
In the 1930s, when the urban dance halls of America were ringing to the swing sounds of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie, a unique form of dance music was taking hold in the rural South West.
Exposed to big band influences through the radio, rural string bands took jazz and big band music and adapted it for their traditional instruments.
Country fiddles, banjos and steel guitars played alongside horns, drums and pianos.
Also feeding into this music were the diverse cultural influences prevalent in 1930s Texas and Oklahoma.
This was an area filled with the sounds of different communities.
Czech and German polka, Mexican mariachi, Cajun and blues were all part of the soundtrack of the Southwest and bled into this new style of music, which would later become known as 'Western Swing'.
It was a sound which was to become the lifeblood of the Texan dancehall for the next twenty years, and provide America with a musician regarded by many as 'the best band leader of all time' - Bob Wills.
In this five part series Ray Benson, the founder and lead singer of Grammy winning Western Swing band 'Asleep at the Wheel' charts the history and development of this music.
He celebrates the people who created, developed and refined the Western Swing sound, and joins some of the players, enthusiasts and fans who are keeping this unique part of America's musical history alive for the next generation.
The series features contributions from Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and The Hot Club of Cowtown plus former members of 'Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys' Johnny Gimble, Herb Remington, Bobby Koefer, Louise Rowe and Leon Rausch.
In the third part of the series we travel to the small farming town of Turkey, deep in the heart of the Texas Panhandle - the hometown of legendary Western Swing bandleader Bob Wills.
That this unassuming tiny farming settlement was home to one of the most important figures in Texan music is impressive enough.
But pass through Turkey on the last weekend in April and you'll see how this little town, population 500, is transformed into a place of pilgrimage for Western Swing fans from all over the world - Welcome to Bob Wills Day!"
Ray Benson sees the impact of Western Swing music on this little town and finds out what keeps fans coming back year after year.
We also hear from Bob's daughter Rosetta Wills and some of the Texas Playboys themselves about life on the road with Bob and the secret of his huge success.
Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson charts the history of Western Swing music."
0420091201In the 1930s, when the urban dance halls of America were ringing to the swing sounds of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie, a unique form of dance music was taking hold in the rural South West.
Exposed to big band influences through the radio, rural string bands took jazz and big band music and adapted it for their traditional instruments.
Country fiddles, banjos and steel guitars played alongside horns, drums and pianos.
Also feeding into this music were the diverse cultural influences prevalent in 1930s Texas and Oklahoma.
This was an area filled with the sounds of different communities.
Czech and German polka, Mexican mariachi, Cajun and blues were all part of the soundtrack of the Southwest and bled into this new style of music, which would later become known as 'Western Swing'.
It was a sound which was to become the lifeblood of the Texan dancehall for the next twenty years, and provide America with a musician regarded by many as 'the best band leader of all time' - Bob Wills.
In this five part series Ray Benson, the founder and lead singer of Grammy winning Western Swing band 'Asleep at the Wheel' charts the history and development of this music.
He celebrates the people who created, developed and refined the Western Swing sound, and joins some of the players, enthusiasts and fans who are keeping this unique part of America's musical history alive for the next generation.
The series features contributions from Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and The Hot Club of Cowtown plus former members of 'Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys' Johnny Gimble, Herb Remington, Bobby Koefer, Louise Rowe and Leon Rausch.
The fourth part of the series focuses on the importance of radio to the success of Western Swing, and the music's heyday in the 1940s.
The programme traces the development of the Bob Wills sound throughout this decade, and his move to the West Coast and Hollywood.
He also looks at the impact of band leader Spade Cooley on the Western swing movement in California.
Donnell Clyde Cooley, nicknamed Spade for his impressive poker skills, spent his early years in Hollywood as Roy Rogers stunt double by day and fiddler with local bands by night.
He was recruited into the Venice Pier house band, and was soon fronting his own Western swing outfit which was much slicker in approach than the Texas Playboys, often with trained orchestral musicians playing written arrangements.
Spade and his orchestra had a string of top ten country hits including his theme song Shame on You, and his success soon transferred to the big and small screens with roles in Hollywood Westerns and a hugely successful TV variety show throughout the 1950s.
But his story was to have a dramatic Hollywood ending, and not a happy one.
Ray Benson along with music historians and musicians from that era talk about the rise and fall of the man who proclaimed himself 'King of Western Swing'.
Looking at the importance of radio in western swing's success.
05 LAST20091208
In the 1930s, when the urban dance halls of America were ringing to the swing sounds of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie, a unique form of dance music was taking hold in the rural South West.
Exposed to big band influences through the radio, rural string bands took jazz and big band music and adapted it for their traditional instruments.
Country fiddles, banjos and steel guitars played alongside horns, drums and pianos.
Also feeding into this music were the diverse cultural influences prevalent in 1930s Texas and Oklahoma.
This was an area filled with the sounds of different communities.
Czech and German polka, Mexican mariachi, Cajun and blues were all part of the soundtrack of the Southwest and bled into this new style of music, which would later become known as 'Western Swing'.
It was a sound which was to become the lifeblood of the Texan dancehall for the next twenty years, and provide America with a musician regarded by many as 'the best band leader of all time' - Bob Wills.
In this five part series Ray Benson, the founder and lead singer of Grammy winning Western Swing band 'Asleep at the Wheel' charts the history and development of this music.
He celebrates the people who created, developed and refined the Western Swing sound, and joins some of the players, enthusiasts and fans who are keeping this unique part of America's musical history alive for the next generation.
The series features contributions from Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and
The Hot Club of Cowtown plus former members of 'Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys' Johnny Gimble, Herb Remington, Bobby Koefer, Louise Rowe and Leon Rausch.
In the final part of the series Ray Benson remembers Bob Wills' last recording session and his own near meeting with his musical idol.
He also traces the 1970s Western Swing revival, which was kick-started by Merle Haggard's album 'A Tribute to the Best Damn fiddle player in the World' in 1970.
The album was a huge influence on Ray himself, and moved the musical direction of his band 'Asleep at the Wheel' towards Western swing.
'Asleep at the Wheel' went on to record two tribute albums to Bob Wills, and is now regarded as the world's leading Western swing band, with a history spanning almost 40 years.
We hear from members of 'Asleep at the Wheel', and see the band's own influence on subsequent musicians.
The programme also looks at contemporary artists who are performing and recording their own style of Western swing music such as Lyle Lovett, Hot Club of Cowtown , Cornell Hurd and Willie Nelson, whose album 'Willie and the Wheel' was produced by Ray Benson earlier this year.
Asleep At The Wheel frontman Ray Benson charts the history of Western Swing music.

Advertising