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BARN DANCE – WESTERN SWING
The theme for the 2018 Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering is Barn Dance and Western Swing. It will be held February 2, 3, 4 2018, at Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
A Barn Dance is a happy, fun get together where folks dance. The tradition dates back over five hundred years in many European countries. When people from these countries immigrated to the United States they brought their natives dances with them. These social gatherings were held in barns because they were the only places large enough to handle a big crowd and also have the room needed to dance. Initially folks did only the dances native to their countries of origin such as Gallic Irish and Scottish dances, English Country dances and Flemish Wedding dances. As the population of the United States grew and moved west, the music to which people moved to at a Barn Dance changed. There became square dances, Texas line dances and many others now done to a variety of music including Bluegrass, Country and Western, Southern Rock and even pop music. Barn Dance has become part of the Western Tradition.
Western Swing is uniquely American dance music, often with an up-tempo beat. It arose in the 1930s, merging the influences of cowboy style, Hillbilly music, and Big Band jazz. The two pioneering Western Swing groups were Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and Milton Brown and the Musical Brownies. Bob Wills and Milton Brown in 1930 formed the first Western Swing band called the Light Crust Doughboys (named after the sponsor of its radio show, Light Crust Flour). To the usual instruments used by country groups of a guitar or two and fiddle, they added amplification of the guitars, a steel and bass guitar and then a banjo, piano and later a saxophone and drum. Their music was energized and animated. Western Swing Bands became hugely in the 1930s and 1940 to 1945 in the southwest, particularly California. Its influence is evident in the music of modern country and western legends such as Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. Bob Wills’ classic “New San Antonio Rose” is considered the icon of Western Swing.