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Fans Flock to Turkey {Texas} to Get in the Swing of Things {Bob Wills Festival}
Lubbock, TX, Avalanche-Journal ^ | 04-30-06 | Crawford, Jim

Posted on 04/30/2006 7:38:14 AM PDT by Theodore R.

Fans flock to Turkey to get in swing of things BY JIM CRAWFORD MORRIS NEWS SERVICE

Bob Wills is still the king, at least he is in Turkey at this time of year.

The 35th annual Bob Wills Day celebration took place this weekend and Western swing fans from near and far were on hand to mingle with old friends, listen to some great fiddlin' and hear the remaining members of Wills' Texas Playboys perform.

And perform they did.

The nine-member band rocked out Saturday afternoon to old Playboy standards and tunes made famous when the band members were decades younger. All way past retirement age, the guys had the audience of several thousand fans tapping their toes to "Milk Cow Blues," sung by Leon Rausch, "Big Balls in Cowtown," "Steel Guitar Rag" and the ever popular "San Antonio Rose."

There are some rabid Western swing fans who show up. The parking lot was full of out-of-state vehicles from places like Montana, California, Alabama.

Eric and Teresa Nielsen made the trip from Virginia Beach, Va. to take in the sights and sounds of metropolitan Turkey.

"I've been here four times already," Eric Nielsen said. "I finally talked my wife into coming with me and now she's hooked. She wants to move here."

Nielsen said he got hooked on Western swing after he bought an album titled "Live from Turkey, Texas."

Truitt Cunningham, band leader and bass player for the Playboys, said he auditioned for Wills in 1948 when Cunningham was 18. "I had just gotten married and Bob wanted me to go with him to play in Oklahoma," Cunningham said. "My wife's from there and she said I'm not going back, so I didn't take the job until 1954. I was working clubs then and I needed to get something different. We had three kids by then and my wife wanted to get rid of me so she said to go ahead. We went to California.

"There aren't too many Playboys left. We just buried one last week. I'm one of the youngest at 75. This is my 60th year playing Western swing. I started playing when I was 15. Over the years there have been more than 500 Playboys. We all got along great with Bob."

Western swing remains popular today because it's happy music, Cunningham said.

"That's what Bob meant for it to be. He didn't like crying in your beer music."

Glynn Duncan, brother to the famous Playboy alum Tommy Duncan, fills in on vocals with the group.

"I played with Bob for about two years," Duncan said. "I started in 1946 with Luke Wills, Bob's brother. There were three Wills brothers and three Duncan brothers. The Wills all had bands and we all played in them. I'm the only one left out of 14 kids.

"Us old musicians are keeping Western swing alive," Duncan said. "I don't know what'll happen to it when we're all gone. Playboys are getting few and far between, like hens' teeth. There are only about 12-15 of us left.

"The highlight of my time with Bob was just working with him. I learned a lot. I thought I knew a lot about the music business. It was quite a thrill."

Leon Rausch is still very active in the music business, having been invited to bring the Playboys to Lincoln Center in New York in June, recording with various artists and keeping busy.

"I used to play rhythm guitar when I joined Bob in 1958," Rausch said. "Now all I do is sing. I was with him the first time from '58-'61. Then again in '64. That's when the Beatles and rock and roll were hot. Western swing was still popular but we had to work harder for less money and go more miles. We finally shut the band down in 1968. One of the last jobs we did was in Vernon.

"By then Bob had lost it completely. He'd had some strokes. I felt so sorry for him. He tried so hard. He wanted to fiddle so bad. He loved the people and wanted to make them happy. And the people loved him right back. He watched people to see what they wanted to hear. He knew what they wanted to hear next. His personality was bigger than his talent. People just loved him."

Rausch said he has no plans to quit music.

"The fans keep us interested," he said. "As long as they're interested, we're interested. We can tell they love it. That's why they keep coming back. That doesn't make us overconfident. It just makes us work harder."

KEYWORDS: bobwills; music; swingmusic; turkey; tx; westernmusic
An annual event of Americana
1 posted on 04/30/2006 7:38:16 AM PDT by Theodore R.
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To: Theodore R.

"It don't matter who's in Austin,Bob Wills is still the King"

2 posted on 04/30/2006 7:46:10 AM PDT by Armigerous ( Non permitte illegitimi te carborundum- "Don't let the bastards grind you down")
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To: Theodore R.
I remember riding in the back seat of Dad's 1939 Ford, during the WWII "Louisiana Maneuvers" listening to Bob Wills and others of the day. Dad would sing along.

Also remember the soldiers whistling at my mom and aunt, who were each about 28 at the time. Dad acted a little irritated at the whistling, but I’m sure the ladies loved it!

3 posted on 04/30/2006 7:53:39 AM PDT by RAY
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To: Theodore R.

Bri1ngs back memories. This was an anual pilgrimage for me when I was in college.

We would camp in the city park - the one with the giant statue of a rotating fiddle. Sleep in tents...and start drinking as soon as we woke I said, it was college

4 posted on 04/30/2006 7:55:29 AM PDT by The Lumster (USA - where the innocent have nothing to fear!)
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To: JRandomFreeper; prairiebreeze

Most times I hate living so far away from Texas.

5 posted on 04/30/2006 8:10:18 AM PDT by lysie
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To: Theodore R.
Wish I could go! Oooh Yeess! A little Cotton Eyed Joe, San Antonio Rose, South of the Border, Cherokee Maiden, all followed up with the Texas Playboy Rag!!!
6 posted on 04/30/2006 8:34:36 AM PDT by JimSEA (America cannot have an exit strategy from the world.)
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In the 70's a western swing group known as "Asleep at the Wheel" came along, and they are trying to preserve the Bob Wills legacy. I don't know if they're still in business or not, but they're good.

7 posted on 04/30/2006 8:38:20 AM PDT by capt. norm (W.C. Fields: "Hollywood is the gold cap on a tooth that should have been pulled out years ago.")
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To: capt. norm
Asleep At The Wheel is alive, well & still gigging.
8 posted on 04/30/2006 8:46:39 AM PDT by Rick Deckard
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To: capt. norm
We have "Asleep at the Wheel's" CD tribute to Bob Wills and when I lived in Bakersfield CA saw them perform at Buck Owens' "Crystal Palace". They played several of my Bob Will request.
9 posted on 04/30/2006 8:56:21 AM PDT by RAY
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To: Rick Deckard
Back in 1980 a Chicago radio station I was working for booked Asleep at the Wheel and Willie Nelson for a concert.

It was a great combination. Willie and "The Wheel" fit together like bread and butter. In typical Willie Nelson fashion, at what was supposed to be the end of the concert, started jamming with the band and it went on another hour or so. The encores were better than the main show.

When you finally walk out of a Willie Nelson concert, you know your ticket money was well spent. He goes way above and beyond to make it so.

10 posted on 04/30/2006 9:52:20 AM PDT by capt. norm (W.C. Fields: "Hollywood is the gold cap on a tooth that should have been pulled out years ago.")
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To: Theodore R.

Western swing gives me happy feet!

11 posted on 04/30/2006 9:55:05 AM PDT by Flyer (Tag line removed to appease humblegunner)
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To: lysie

Western swing is one of my favorite music styles. A lot of class to the music, very fun and appealing.

thanks for the ping!

12 posted on 04/30/2006 10:06:10 AM PDT by prairiebreeze (Rush Limbaugh arrested. Mary McCarthy walking around free. Am I still on planet Earth?)
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To: capt. norm; Flyer; prairiebreeze

If you like Western swing, you should check out Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant. Particularly the "Swingin' on the Strings" CD. It's Western swing on steroids.

13 posted on 04/30/2006 10:22:48 AM PDT by Rick Deckard
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Have ever been to Guthrie's Alley Cat?

Here's a link to some good info on "The Bakersfield Sound"
14 posted on 04/30/2006 10:26:19 AM PDT by Rick Deckard
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To: Theodore R.

In the late 50's I use to go to the Stampede in Big Springs, Texas, every Saturday night to dance to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. We always had a wonderful time. Now...those were the days.

15 posted on 04/30/2006 10:55:54 AM PDT by Millie
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