Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

367
Banjo Lovers Online


Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Oct 21, 2018 - 7:44:34 AM

malarz

USA

276 posts since 1/5/2007

Anyone know of 4-string banjo players who played, or currently play, Western Swing/Texas fiddle rhythm accompaniment? I know of Ocie Stockard, who played mainly rhythm with Milton Browen and Bob Wills and then leading his own band, and Smokey Montgomery. The Texas fiddler Eck Roberston also was accompanied by tenor banjo on his early recordings.

From my reading it appears that banjo players switched to guitar as soon as drums came into the bands.

Thanks for any names or links to videos or recordings.

Ken

Oct 21, 2018 - 8:35:12 AM

600 posts since 6/9/2009

More old-time/ragtime than Western Swing, but Hugh Roden's Texas Nighthawks had a tenor banjo way out front playing melody lines and The East Texas Serenaders 78 sides all have a tenor banjo chording along with heavy strums on the back beat.

Oct 21, 2018 - 8:56:13 AM

49542 posts since 12/14/2005

I looked up WESTERN SWING BANDS on AOL images, found thee:

Tune Wranglers https://c8.alamy.com/comp/BRC395/tune-wranglers-western-swing-band-from-san-antonio-texas-see-description-BRC395.jpg

Dave Edwards & his Alabama Boys https://i.ytimg.com/vi/6Jai6VZ0ANA/maxresdefault.jpg

Album cover, no name

 

Light Crust Doughboys http://www.rocky-52.net/photos_l/light_crust_d.jpg

Hope that helped, some.

Oct 21, 2018 - 10:44:58 PM
like this

49542 posts since 12/14/2005

Of course, in the WILD days of the West, "Western Swing" was not so much a musical subgenre, as it was a way to deal with horse thieves.cheeky

Oct 23, 2018 - 4:03:53 AM

342 posts since 6/4/2015

That branch doesn't look very sturdy though....:-)

Veerstryngh Thynner

Oct 23, 2018 - 6:20:27 AM

198 posts since 2/16/2014

@malarz

Hey Ken,
I knew this would be your post. Are you playing back up western swing and/or Texas fiddle on your banjo?

Oct 23, 2018 - 6:37:19 AM

malarz

USA

276 posts since 1/5/2007

@aintbrokejustbadlybent

Hi Mike,

trying to play in that style. Doesn’t sound as if it’s any different from the tenor guitar playing except for the stronger and more percussive sound of the banjo vs guitar. In some ways it does sound “old timey” (thanks to @BobtheGambler for pointing that out) but always with the “sock” rhythm (on the offbeat). Sometimes I hear the old time rhythm banjo stressing the “1” beat.

if you listen to the earlier recordings of Milton Brown you’ll hear solid rhythm banjo by Ocie Stockard.

Oct 23, 2018 - 6:47:46 AM

198 posts since 2/16/2014

@malarz

Ken,
Are you playing with anyone? I'd like to hear some samples.

Oct 23, 2018 - 7:56:16 AM

malarz

USA

276 posts since 1/5/2007

A fiddle player and I are trying to get it together. I’ll let you know as soon as it happens.

Oct 23, 2018 - 9:09:54 AM
likes this

stanger

USA

7121 posts since 9/29/2004

quote:
Originally posted by malarz

Anyone know of 4-string banjo players who played, or currently play, Western Swing/Texas fiddle rhythm accompaniment? I know of Ocie Stockard, who played mainly rhythm with Milton Browen and Bob Wills and then leading his own band, and Smokey Montgomery. The Texas fiddler Eck Roberston also was accompanied by tenor banjo on his early recordings.

From my reading it appears that banjo players switched to guitar as soon as drums came into the bands.

Thanks for any names or links to videos or recordings.

Ken


 

The tenor passed through Western Swing in much the same way it did with other jazz  bands.  Some bands stuck with it for a lot longer than others, and many bands that used mostly the guitar still employed the tenor for some tunes. 

It all depended on the bandleader and who he could hire for his orchestra. The best string players were always in high demand, so they would often be stolen from one band by another. Then, when the first band grew more popular than the second, would go back again if the wages were good enough.

Some of the western swing bands in Texas and California quit the road and settled down in one ballroom as the music became widespread. Bob Wills was one, and when the Texas Playboys were younger, his brother played the banjo and the guitar in the band, and occasionally, 2 banjos were used, or 2 guitars. Wills preferred the sound of the piano to the accordion, but the bands that used accordions tended to also use banjos more than guitars, as the banjo tone didn't blend into the sound of the accordion as much as a guitar.

Los Angeles was a real western swing hotbed. A lot of the best bands moved there semi-permanently because the music stayed really popular well into the 1950s. Because L.A. was both a big movie and recording center, a lot of studio musicians would moonlight in the western swing bands, playing movie scores during the day and hot swing at night. 

With so many good musicians of all kinds available, Wills was able to use a horn section for a while, and Spade Cooley used a harpist. Some of the fiddlers spent their days playing semi-classical violin movie scores, so the fiddling lost some of its raw Texas edge. Other bands, like Milton Brown's Brownies, tended to stick with the early western swing, the sound of the 1930s bands.

Still others were essentially vaudeville acts that played dance music as vaudeville dried up, and the music was mostly cowboy hokum. More show entertainment than dance music.

The western swing genre's popularity lasted quite a long time in the west. The farther west, the longer it lasted. There are distinct differences in the instruments that were used in each decade of its popularity, and in the music. In the beginning, 

The tenor was almost entirely rhythm. I can't recall any lead taken on one. Fiddles, the piano, and later the steel guitar took the leads almost always, and usually in twin or 3 fiddles. 

regards,

stanger

Oct 23, 2018 - 7:27:21 PM

malarz

USA

276 posts since 1/5/2007

Thanks for that history.

Oct 25, 2018 - 12:45:13 PM

5088 posts since 3/6/2006

Bill Boyd Had a popular western swing band, and carried a banjo player - Walter Kirkes

Oct 31, 2018 - 5:03:19 AM

malarz

USA

276 posts since 1/5/2007

Thanks to all who responded with comments and listening suggestions. Bill Boyd had at various times the banjo players Walter Kirkes, Rankin Moler and Marvin Montgomery. The banjo players mainly did play rhythm accompaniment but there are recordings where the banjo steps out with solos.

The Boyd recordings are fun. Not as sensitive to race, gender and ethnicicty as I would like them to be but many moments, both lyrical and musical, which make me laugh.

Ken

Oct 31, 2018 - 8:24:44 AM

828 posts since 2/10/2013

In a fiddle publication I read that the great fiddler Benny Thomasson preferred being accompanied by a 4 string tenor guitar. I think I would also rather play those complex chords on a 4 string tenor banjo than a regular guitar.

Oct 31, 2018 - 8:59:44 AM
likes this

malarz

USA

276 posts since 1/5/2007

Yes. His son Jerry was the master of Texas fiddle accompaniment on tenor guitar.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.125