It was first described as hot fiddling
in the American Southwest
, it certainly didn't have the soft feel of music further east. It started in the country dance halls of Oklahoma
as a combination of country, polka, and folk blended with the new confection
. These so-called hot string bands
would later be known as Western Swing.
The origin of Western Swing can be traced, more-or-less, to a hazy afternoon in 1930. A fiddler and guitar player teamed up with a rhythm guitarist and vocalist to form The Aladdin Laddies and they appeared regularly on the local Fort Worth, Texas radio station. Many groups in those days took their names from the sponsor of the radio show that played them, in this case it was the Aladdin Lamp Company. When Aladdin pulled out and the Burris Mill and Elevator Company, best known for their "light crust flour," moved in, the band changed its name to the Light Crust Doughboys. Following a few changes in personnel, the Light Crust Doughboys play to this day.
The fiddler of the Light Crust Doughboys, Bob Wills, and vocalist Milton Brown each went on to become known as the King of Western Swing and the Founder of Western Swing, respectively. Wills died May 13, 1975 and Brown died in April of 1936 at the tender age of 32.
If you're the type who likes all genres of music but country, and there are many out there, this is where you need to look:
Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys: ANTHOLOGY 1935-1973 on Rhino Records.
The Tiffany Transcriptions, Vols 1-9 - Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys on Rhino Records.
If you're interested in broadening your Western Swing horizons, and I know you are, try here:
Lonestar Swing by Duncan McLean (Jonathan Cape-Random House, UK, 1997)
San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills by Cary Ginell (University of Illinois Press, 1976)