Maybe it was a better joke in the Blues Brothers than it is here, but it brings us to the point: Just what is Country and Western Music?
Country Music and Western Music were two distinct styles of music until they were lumped together by Billboard Magazine for charting purposes. Both have their roots in the folk music of the British Isles.
What would become Country or “Hillbilly Music” came from the folk music of the Appalachians and the American Old South. The cultural diversity of the South lent a variety of instruments to Hillbilly Music- the Irish fiddle, the German dulcimer, the Spanish Guitar, and the Italian mandolin. Different cultural styles of music blended as well; Negro Spirituals, Blues, English Ballads all would shape Country.
Western music is thought to have developed around the cowboys campfire. The migration of Southerners to the Southwest mixed styles with the music of the Mexican Cowboys. The distinctive result would be glorified by Hollywood and Radio with the rise of the Singing Cowboys.
A fusion of many styles played in Dance Halls became known as Western Swing. Along with Western and Country music, elements of Dixieland jazz, polka, blues, and Big Band sounds combined to become very danceable and popular music in the pre-War years. In contrast to the tightly arranged, horn driven Big Band sound, Western Swing usually follows the Fiddle’s lead, and stylistically allows for more on-stage improvisation.
Western Swing didn’t die, but it was gravely injured during WWII when the Federal Government placed an 30% excise tax on “Dancing Night Clubs.”
Western and Country Music is growing in popularity, even among those who didn’t spent the day breathing cattle dust of spreading what the cows left on the crops. Many of these shows from the Golden Era feature a lot of comedy, but fair warning- this is also the forum where “Corn-ball” humor developed.
- 10-2-4 Ranch – Sponsored by Dr. Pepper, be sure to drink your meal in between meals at 10:00, 2:00, and 4:00
- All Star Western Theater – Chuck wagon sized doses of fine music, broad humor and guest appearances by the best of the West.
- Chuck Wagon Jamboree – Join Ken Curtis and the other “hillbillies” for a boot tapping good time
- Country Style USA – An Army Recruiting show from the 1950s
- Cowboy Church of the Air – Rare Country Gospel old time radio showthat mixes spirituality with cowboy tunes
- Hank Williams – Country Music Icon and honky-tonk hero
- Hollywood Barn Dance – Music Variety show with top name talent
- Johnnie Lee Wills and His Boys – These “Texas Playboys” were best know for their western swing music
- Lightcrust Doughboys – Donning starched white bakers uniforms, this group played great western music
- Melody Ranch – Staring country music singing cowboy, Gene Autry
- Melody Round-up – Spin those spurs and come along now for western and cowboy songs galore
- National Barn Dance – Grab a hay bale and gather around for the best dance in town
- Pat O’Daniel and His Hillbilly Boys – Texas Swing Style western music band from the 1930s
- Pinto Pete and His Ranchhands – Western Music show by and for the authentic cowboys
- Red Foley Show – A Grand Ole Opry veteran Red was one of the most versatile Country Music Performers of his day.