7-Song History of the Fiddle in the South
San Antonio Rose
In Texas, Bob Wills is still the king, and he gained his throne by popularizing Western swing, a mix of jazz-influenced swing and country and western music. Wills didn’t invent Western swing, nor was he even the best fiddler in his band, The Texas Playboys. What he did do, though, was popularize a genre that took fiddle-playing to new heights. Unlike the older string bands, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys had an image that was more sophisticated than hillbilly stereotypes. Their music fit this image, using jazz chords and extended solos instead of the simpler song structures of string-band music. The blending of jazz with country opened up new ranges of expression for the fiddle, which were later co-opted by bluegrass players. The Texas Playboys recorded many versions of “San Antonio Rose”; this one, from the Rhino Records release Classic Western Swing, best shows Bob Wills’ fusion of multiple genres.
To listen to a prime example of Bob Wills and Texas swing go to the link below.
Be sure and listen for Bob’s signature, “Ah ha!”