His father was a fiddler as was his grandfather and an uncle. Howdy started playing fiddle at the age of 8. Both of his grandfathers were fiddlers, as were 9 of his uncles and 5 of his aunts. His father, John wills, was a frequent finalist at Texas fiddle contests, where he defeated the legendary Eck Robertson on several occasions.
Return to Homepage. Two of the most fascinating and challenging forms of music to appear in 20thC America were bluegrass and western swing. Both were modern, forward looking and highly specialised branches of country music, and both had the fiddle at the core of the band. One went on to grow exponentially, with today thousands of bands all over the world, while the other, having boomed in its heyday, is now all but unknown. In this article I will compare the development of the two styles, and try to discover why one succeeded and the other failed. In an attempt to broaden the appeal of the music to the widest possible audience, Milton Brown and Bob Wills began to incorporate elements of swing jazz, then the height of sophistication in popular music, and to add more and more instruments. Drums, twin fiddles, the newly invented electric steel guitar, and a brass section were all part of the mix; by the time Wills made his first recordings for Brunswick in , they were a piece band.
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Wills was doing exactly what American youth do today, as they create anew with the pearls of American culture, grinding them up and remixing the pieces into something they call their own. As a fiddler, I developed an interest in the roots of the music I played at dances, clubs, recordings, jam sessions, and for radio and film sound tracks. An unspoken code among fiddlers prompts us to remember, credit and honor the sources of the tunes we play. For me, doing this has almost become an obsession.