Swing Discussion Boards > "Original" music West Coast Swing was danced to

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Steve Pastor, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So, which other forum do I know you from? I'd like to review.
  2. Silveralsa

    Silveralsa New Member

    Oops, I apologize. I meant another thread. Sorry, I've only had on average 4-hours of sleep last 3 days. Thought I'd gotten all my words straight, but that was the wrong term! :)
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'm still looking for that blues/WCS connection.
    I've got info from "Nothing But the Blues" that talks about the blues revival of the sixties. But that was primarily a folk/country blues revival. Somewhere along the way, I they were playing a Blues Brothers tune at my favorite pub. I was around when they first started playing on SNL - as the Killer Bee Band. And Belushi knew a local blues guy here in Portland - Curtis Salgado. I used to hear Salgado a lot when I was into blues, ummm, maybe 10-15 years ago.
    Anyhow, no doubt in my mind that the Blues Brothers helped raise the profile of blues here in the US.
    So, this whole thing on SNL happened late 70s through early 80s.
    Couple of caveats...
    "the music of the Blues Brothers is based on R&B, blues, and soul, it also drew heavily on rock and jazz elements, usually taking a blues standard and bringing a rock sound and style to it."
    "almost every hit out of Memphis' Stax Records during the 1960s, were signed as well"
    "the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and blues recordings. While Stax is renowned for its output of African-American music, the label was founded by two white businesspeople, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, and featured several popular ethnically-integrated bands, including the label's house band, Booker T. & the MG's.

    My ex the professional musician always told me they weren't really playing blues.

    There was a great profussion of things West Coast Swing in the early eighties, as documented by Craig Hutchinson. Aside from the mention of the Bill Black Combo's bluesy sound, I wonder if this isn't when the blues/West Coast association began.

    As always, comments welcomed!
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I recently became aware of a movie titled "Everybody's Dancin", and it is available at Movie madness in Portland, so I had a chance to review it.

    The movie was filmed in December of 1949 and featured Western Swing musician Spade Cooley. The plot builds on Cooley's popular TV show and his 7 year stay at the Santa Monica Ballroom. In 1951 his show was rated #1 in Los Angeles, and it was in the top ten from the late 40s through the mid 50s.
    (I tried to contact the Santa Monica Historical Society to try to confirm the filming in the Ballroom itself, but the emails bounced back. Interiors match written descriptions of the inside of the Ballroom which Cooley, et al renamed "Western Palisades.)

    Billboard Apr 14, 1951 “Attendance is down at other danceries, but Cooley rings up more than 3,000 customers per Saturday night.”

    During the last sequence of the film, one couple can be seen doing swing while all the people in suits are doing fox trot. Cooley and two other fiddlers were sawing away while this was going on. This squares with accounts that younger dancers danced "jitterbug" where Western Swing was played.
  5. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Interesting what you can observe about a time and place from watching films from that era. Very interesting...
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And, while I'm sharing... This dancing "jitterbug" to Western Swing was noted 6 years earlier in the LA area.

    Billboard Jun 10, 1944
    reviewed at Riverside Breakfast club

    "Spade Cooley has organized a band that is really in the swing of things what with the trend to Western music in this section Cooley’s Western swing band is natural, for he hails from Oklahoma, and was featured at the Venice (Calif.) Ballroom for 74 weeks when Foreman Phillips, the granddaddy of Western dances, started weekly shindigs that caught on fast.”
    Music is not the true Western type with its lyrics of woe-begone affairs. Wailing is out, too. Cooley’s type is self dubbed Western Swing. Dancers can fox trot or do a slow jitter to it. The bounce is neat and the music, without brass, is easy on the ears.”
    Sam Abbott at the Riverside Breakfast Club, Los Angeles
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I just found two more names mentioned for "West Coast swing or Western swing " in a 1961 dance text: Jerry Gray and Ray Conniff.



    The authors were at Los Angeles State University so this is home base stuff.
    The intitial assessment of their styles is that this is the kind of music that you would use for a "Sophisticated Swing". '61 is kind of late to be "original music", unless you want to argue that it wasn't West Coast swing until it was given that name, and it was becoming known as that. (There's another book from 1964 that uses Western swing without mentioning West Coast, and also the 1971/1975 Butler texts .) Still, these were the early years.)
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Here's some music associated with WCS in 1980.

    RISE A&M 2151
    Good low-down Herb Alpert music and a good fun-to-do challenging “west coast swing” routine.
    Alpert slowed it to about 100 BPM so "People could dance and hug each other at the end of the night http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=2206
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So, here I am researching "One Mint Julep". The Buddy Morrow version is listed by Laura Haile.
    The tune was first recorded by the Clovers in 1952. It was a hit with the R&B record buying public. Jet described it as rhythmic and bouncey.

    As was very common it was recorded to be marketed to other segments of the public.
    Both versions can be found on YouTube.

    I looked at Billboard and Cashbox to see how well these records had done, and neither version hit with the general public, but one of Morrow's obits says that it was a hit for him.
    What WAS popular at that time were two songs called "Kiss of Fire" and "Blue Tango".
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This next post is probably going to have people scratching their heads without some introduction. So, let's just say it's an effort, based on numerous sources, including local newspapers, Billboard magazine, etc to give people an idea of the popular music and culture in Los Angeles during the latter half of the 1950s, according to those sources. This is about the time the "Western Swing" began to show up in printed sources. I decided to present the information in the style (hopefully) of a newspaper columnist on the entertainment beat to make it more readable than just a list of facts.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Welcome to the Entertainment Section for both Television and Radio, and other odds and ends for the Los Angeles area on Saturday June 23, 1958.
    Did you know that every third home in the area now owns a television set?
    At 9:30 this evening on channel 7 “The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show” will feature, from Atlantic City, New Jersey: Danny & the Juniors with their “At the Hop” & "Dottie", Janice Harper - "Hands Across the Sea", Lou Monte doing "Sheik of Araby” , Bill Doggett - "Honky Tonk" and "Blip, Blop". Local boy and Bell Gardens resident Eddie Cochran is scheduled to perform his hit “Summertime Blues” later this summer.
    Lawrence Welk is on channel 4 at 6:00, and continues to play at the Aragon Ballroom several times a week. Fans of Dixieland Jazz can stay tuned to the same channel to catch the Bob Crosby Show at 8:00.
    “King of Western Swing” Spade Cooley continues his 10 year run on the local airwaves at 8:00 (KTLA 5) with the “Spade Cooley Show”. Be sure to watch for Downey resident Marion Hall playing that smokin’ steel guitar made for her by neighbor, Paul Bigsby out there on Phlox Street.
    Cooley is followed by “Hometown Jamboree” at 7:00, same channel. Jamboree host Cliffie Stone has never made good on his tongue in cheek comment about bringing violinist Jascha Heifetz or operatic mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens onto the show, and that seems unlikey with higher wages being paid to musicians now a days. Country America starts at 7:00 on 7 (KABC), and is followed by Country Music at 8:30. Channel 11 begins its broadcast of Town Hall Party at 10:00 with another segment beginning at 11:00. Tex Ritter promises appearances by the likes of Wanda Jackson, Gene Vincent, and Johnny Cash in upcoming shows.
    The Sweethearts Ball will be shown live on channel 5 beginning at 11:30.
    Radio listeners can take advantage of more cultural leanings such as French Music at 11:30 AM on KFAC, Seranade at 5:00 and the evening concert at 8:00. Those leaning to the country side have Red Foley (11:30AM ), Jimmie Wakely at 7:30 on KNXJ, then Country Style to enjoy. Tex Ritter airs at 9:30 followed by Joe Maphis. Grand Ole Opry is aired at 9:00.
    Get a shot of Polka at 4:00 with Polka Party, and Lawrence Welk is on at 9:00 (KABC). Dance Time can be heard at 8:00 on KABC, and 11:00 on KMPC. The Evening Concert is at 8:00 on KFAC.
    Speaking of Marian Hall, you might run into her, or other Western musicians, or just plain folks, at the Silver Saddle Inn on Florence Street in Downey. Marian’s review of the Western themed restaurant reads, “Great food and enjoyed the saddle woven into the carpet”. They also feature Indian dancing on the weekends.
  12. sudoplatov

    sudoplatov Member

    Just for fun, I'd like to note that there are (at least) two Texas variants of West Coast Swing, Push in Dallas and Whip in Houston.

    The swing site: swing craze (other dances) discusses both. I don't know how reliable that site is nor its links. I can't post links so one may have to search (I searched using "push" and "whip" together.)

    I'd also like to endorse the suggestion of observing old movies to see how some dances were done. Mostly, not the feature dances (which could be specially designed), but the background scenes.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, there is one interesting version of the development of those dances, which are supposed to be the same.

    I was actually going to log off... but I just solved another mystery...

    I hope everyone has looked at the "Hot Rod Gang" dance clip on YouTube. When the music seems to speed up they dance a somewhat unpolished Western Swing, which to me is is another piece of evidence about what some people danced West Coast Swing to in 1958. Rockabilly.
    Anyhow the credits to that film list a Dick DiAugustine as the choreographer. I couldn't turn up ANYTHING on him. Well, a week or so ago I came across a listing of a Dick D'Agostin and the Swingers who appeared on Town Hall Party -that Western music show in LA. Pretty similar name, but...

    I've been reading about Eddie Cochran, who grew up in a trailer in Bell Gardens right next to Downey (some of you know about Downey). Well, Dick D'Agostin and the Swingers backed Cochran, and it turns out that the wikipedia page for him tells us he appeared in Hot Rod Gang, was a dance champion and editor of dance columns for two of the first teen magazines, Dig and Modern Teen.


    Bad spelling by the film producers, I'd wager.

    Anyone have any real old copies of Dig or Modern Teen, like 1956-1959? Wonder what gems might be in those articles. D'Agostin was drafted in 1959. LOTS of young men were drafted back then.

    Now I'm going to look at "Earth vs the Spider" and "Eighteen and Anxious", both of which he was in. Thank goodness for Movie Madness on E. Belmont in Portland!
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So, we've seen what kind of music was being shown on LA tv and broadcast on the radio there in 1958. In trying to find more information about Dick D'Agostin, you find out that his history is intertwined with Eddie Cochran from Bell Gardens.
    I found this great site about Cohchran, with links to YouTube outtakes from Town Hall Party and the Dick Clark Show.
    No dancing, but this is the music that was being broadcast in 58 in LA.

    The Remember Eddie Cochran site is here

    The video page is here.

    Dick D'Agostin sings the part of the boss in "Summertime Blues", and takes part in the interview dated 7th February 1959.

    I noticed years ago that the best sites on this period of American culture seem to be located in Europe. This one is in Amsterdam.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2017
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    VERY recently spoke to Marylin Tuttle, who was married to Western Swing musician Wesley Tuttle. Marilyn lived in LA in the 40s, graduating from high school in 42. She also danced at that time. She told me they called what they did jitterbug. Her decription was dadada dadada dum dum, with the last two steps toward the man.
    She said they all had their own style, and they also had variations.

    Although her favorites were Glenn Miller and all they well known swing bands, when they went to a place they played "country" (The Big Bands that were then called "hillbilly bands", "Hillbilly orks", etc played "cowboy swing", "cowboy jazz", etc became known as primarliy as "Western Swing" bands) they did the same dance.

    This is a first person account that dancing LA "jitterbug", which would become known as Western Swing, was done to Western Swing as part of the local dance scene in LA in the 1940s.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    leftfeetnyc wrote that very early in the thread. I'm still not seeing the real Rhythm and Blues thing, but here's another bit. To me it indicates that swing, including Western Swing, may have been stronger in LA than in other parts of the country. I've seen commentary that Hollywood films showed swing in 50s movies way out of proportion to how much was danced in the rest of the country. Could that be because there were more swing dancers there?

    So, "Hot Rod Gang", Gene Vincent, "Dance to the Bop", Dick D'Agostin and the Swingers, March 1958...

    Kay Wheeler was in the film, dancing the Bop in one scene while D'Agostin and the Swingers "played". She was also there when they filmed the dance rehearsal scene. She had also appeared in "Rock Baby Rock It", which was filmed in Dallas. In 1957/1958 the Bop was such a hit as a dance that Ray Conniff cut an album Dance the Bop! and Art Silva in Hollywood wrote a booklet that was included with the album. He also wrote "How to Dance the Rock & Roll", which is a double rhythm version of swing.

    Having looked at the films, and YouTube clips, I can say the D'Agostin = Di Augustin

    Kay's web site is here http://www.kaywheeler.com/kayhome.html
    Here's a couple comments I got from her.

    LA was not that hip to rock and roll in 1957
    Elvis had not played there like he had all across Texas and the South. I was bored in LA because there was so little R&R going on. yes, Texas was rocking compared to LA.

    even though the song was "Dance to the Bop"-- in "Hot Rod Gang" they were doing something else other than the bop in regard to the dancing-- as you say it was more like "Western Swing". I really noticed that contradiction especially on that song sequence because they were definitely NOT DANCING THE BOP! I thought to myself that the choreography was really out of synch with the music; but then I thought, "so much for Hollywood!".
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Though I would put this here.

    You won't see any actual dancing at this site, although dancing was done at the places mentioned.
    For me it's fulfilling to see this stuff I found about popular music in LA in the 40s and into the late 50s - which was certainly a surprise to me - surfacing in the media (although it is a regional outlet except for the web).

    "A fact that’s been nearly lost to music history in general, and to Southern Californians in particular, is that from the 1940s right through 1960, our part of the state was well known for country music."


    Pretty cool that the author interviewd Marylin Tuttle.
    Gene Vincent, who did "Dance to the Bop", that Dick D'Agostin staged the Western Swing routine to, was on Town Hall Party, as was Eddie Cohchran along with D'Agostin.

    If you look at those Town Hall Party clips, note that the kinescopes were made for Armed Services broadcasts, although the shows were broadcast in LA as late as 1959, and perhaps 1960 and 61.

    Marylin Tuttle would probably tell us that the clips are not "western" music, and by one definition, that is correct. But it was listed then under "C&W" in billboard, and was what many of the younger musicians (mostly) were doing.

    And again, all of these places had dancing going on, and it wasn't square dancing.

    Yes, there were also popular groups in LA billed as playing rock 'n roll and/or rhythm and blues. They just didn't get the same radio and tv air time that the "country western" music did.

    (I know. I know. Much repeated information. But who is going to read the entire thread?)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2017
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Just for "fun" I did a quick check and found this on line...

    "In the 1950s, it was danced to Rhythm & Blues." being West Coast Swing.

    So, I present a new piece of information.

    In 1956 a writer from New York traveled to LA and wrote that teens there were not into Rock 'n Roll as much as teens were in the East. (This agrees with what Kay Wheeler wrote) She also wrote that the Bop and swing were the dances done most often. The swing she saw was equivelant to "Lindy 6" that was being done in New York.

    As to the Bop, I've found some interesting information about who was putting out records with lyrics equating "Bop" with a new dance.
  19. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Marvelous detective work here! :cheers: Impressive...
  20. SadKumquat

    SadKumquat New Member

    Thank you for the historical research, Steve!

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