Hello and welcome to my web site. My intention for initializing a web site is to provide information about myself to people with whom I may share common interests. Also I want to pass on information about the music of Southeast Texas. The music here is a wonderful blend of many ethnic cultures. The diversity of the people in this region has made it one of the premier locations for producing major musical talent to be shared internationally.
The "Lucas Gusher" outside Beaumont, Texas in the early 1900's brought unexpected prosperity and opportunity to Southeast Texas. Many of the major oil companies located refineries and petrochemical facilities here which in turn brought in skilled workers, engineers, management, etc. In the late 1940's the E. I. DuPont Company located a large nylon manufacturing complex in Orange Texas. They later added ethylene, and polyethylene facilities and became the premier employer for this area. The Stark Foundation added a museum, a performing arts theatre, and other attractions to provide a quality of life that has sustained the local business growth into the 21st century. The recent location of several major casinos just across the river in Louisiana causes a continuous flow of cash to pass by on Interstate 10 which runs east to west on the north side of the city of Orange.
CAJUN MUSIC INFLUENCE
The major cultural impact to this area is "Cajun" which is derived from the word "Acadian". These are the people who settled southwest Louisiana after leaving what is now Nova Scotia. They were persecuted by the English, separated as families, and scattered to different parts of the eastern coastline of Canada and the U.S. Many were returned to France but were unable to adapt and found their way to southwest Louisiana where they became known as "plains farmers". The flat coastal plains were ideal for planting and harvesting and offered opportunity for their lifestyle and religion. Because of their language they were looked upon as being different and were made the brunt of many jokes. They persevered and have distinguished themselves as major contributors to the culture and prosperity of Louisiana. During the oil boom in Texas, many of them crossed the river and settled in southeast Texas. They brought their culture, transplanted it here and watched as it flowered. Today cajun music is a major part of numerous spring and summer festivals presented from Houston to New Orleans. The music has been handed down from generation to generation and the musicians are expected to "play it right".
WESTERN SWING INFLUENCE
I was introduced to western swing music by my grandfather. As a child growing up in the deep east Texas town of Joaquin (located in Shelby County), the only contact we had with the outside world was a radio. My grandfather was an avid music fan and traveled every Friday evening with Mr. Arthur Hooper to the original Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana. I would spend the night with my grandmother and we would listen to the Hayride on KWKH radio. That is where I first heard the sounds of country, western swing, and just plain hillbilly music. In those days the Hayride was much more popular in our area than the Grand Ol' Opry. Those were the days of Jim Reeves, Faron Young, Hank Williams, Slim Whitman, Patsy Cline and many more. Anyway built into the top of the old radio was a turntable for playing 78RPM records. My grandfather had a stack of Bob Wills records and needless to say it didn't take me too long to learn how to operate the machine. I fell in love with the music mainly because it accented the individual talents of the musicians. I loved the two and three part harmonies especially the twin and triple fiddle arrangements. Even though I tend to play more country music (mainly to get gigs), I still stop and listen eagerly to a western swing tune. Something about the rhythm, the tones, the feeling, causes me to stop in my tracks.
Now I live in southeast Texas where western swing music has flourished. This area has turned out some major western swing artists and bands. The remnants of those bands are still present today through "The Hackberry Ramblers", "The River Road Boys", "The Hooper Twins", and others. There are many gatherings where one can sit and listen to the music being delivered as it should be played. One thing I have learned over the years is that true western swing fans know how things are supposed to sound. If you sit in with a western swing band; again, you are expected to "play it right".