Learn about an all-American music form, but better yet - dance to the masters of Western Swing
Western Swing really is going to rule Fort Smith (again, or still?) in a Fort Smith Bicentennial event that includes a lecture and concert of the genre’s greatest musicians.
It’s all a dream come true for its creator, Robert Huston, leader of a local band called Western Swing Rules and producer of an internet series of the same name that explores the music identified with Bob Wills &?the Texas Playboys.
Both the lecture and concert will highlight the connection between Western Swing music and this city. From 1935-1940, after becoming established at the Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, from where it broadcast a daily show on KVOO radio, Bob Wills and his Playboys played to huge crowds at a hall in Fort Smith every other Friday night.
When Bob left for California to make movies, his brother Johnny Lee took over the Fort Smith schedule, continuing for many years. There are other significant local connections which will all be highlighted on Sept. 28.
Sept. 28 Dr. David Stricklin speaks
Dr. David Stricklin, the son of legendary Playboy pianist Al Stricklin, is the director of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock and a board member of the Bob Wills Heritage Foundation. He will give a talk on "Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys-Live in Fort Smith." Anyone who danced at the Winter Garden or other local dance halls is encouraged to hear Stricklin’s talk and tell him of their first-person experiences. The talk will be presented at the Windgate Theatre on the UA-Fort Smith campus as part of its Season of Entertainment and the UAFS History Department's "American Democracy" lecture series. Free. 7:30 p.m. Windgate Art & Design, corner of Waldron Road and Kinkead Avenue, Fort Smith, Ark.
Sept. 29 Dance to the masters of Western Swing
On Sept. 29, Fort Smith's own five-piece Western Swing Rules Band will host a dance in the Wills tradition. Joining them onstage will be five Western Swing Hall of Fame musicians: Texas Playboys Steve Ham and Mike Bennett of Tulsa, steel guitarist Bobby Baker of Claremore, Okla., guitarist Paul Moore of Topeka, Kan. and on fiddle and vocals, Greg Gibbs of Wichita Falls, Texas. Free. 7:30 p.m. The Blue Lion, 101 North 2nd Street, Fort Smith, Ark.