Texas Playboys highlight of festival

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

Did you go to the Clovis Music Festival? I’ve got to tell you my favorite act was Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys.

I can tell you when I first discovered Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. I was in college back east and was browsing through the racks of vinyl at the local record store.

If I could have gotten credit for the time I spent at that music store and grades for the vast wasteland of totally useless knowledge I picked up there I’d have earned a doctorate in “Record Albumology” by now.

Anyway, while flipping through the albums in that long-ago store I ran across a double-album set:
“For the Last Time: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys” read the words over the picture of some old guy.

“What’s this stuff,” I wondered. I picked up the album and turned it over, looking at the song titles.

“Yearning,” “Faded Love,” “Stay All Night” — I had no idea what they sounded like, though titles like “What Makes Bob Holler” and “Big Balls in Cowtown” made me snicker like I when I was in elementary school.

I plunked down my money and took my new discovery home. When the needle hit the vinyl on my stereo, the Great American West poured out of my speakers. As the notes and words galloped into my head, scenes of barn dances, cattle roundups and pretty girls dressed in gingham ran through my mind. I was a new Texas Playboys fan.

I told all my friends. My enthusiasm was greeted with blank stares. But my buddies Dick and Dave did have a chuckle at that song title “Big Balls in Cowtown.”

I couldn’t get enough Western Swing. I picked up more music from the Texas Playboys, The Light Crust Doughboys, Spade Cooley, Milton Brown and Asleep at the Wheel.

My ears always perked up when I’d hear a Bob Wills tune. There was Willie Nelson’s take on “Stay All Night,” and Patsy Cline’s or Johnny Rodriguez’s versions of “Faded Love.”

I still think the best version of “Faded Love” was by Tompall and the Glaser Brothers from 1971.

So I was kind of excited when I heard The Texas Playboys would be at this year’s Clovis Music Festival. My brother John came to town to visit, to see the Norman Petty Studios and Bobby Vee. As a bonus he discovered The Texas Playboys.

As we sat in the Clovis Civic Center that night I could tell he thought Western Swing was pretty cool.

“It’s like Glenn Miller meets bluegrass,” he yelled over the music.

Earlier in the day we’d had the pleasure of meeting the Playboys’ lead singer Leon Rausch when we dropped in on Joe’s Boot Shop. I stopped to shake Joe Rhodes’ hand when Joe said, “Have you met Leon Rausch?” I was so surprised. I shook Rausch’s hand and told him how much I admired The Texas Playboys. It was a moment I won’t soon forget.

I don’t know what Liz Eisenbraun, Ernie Kos and the folks at the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce are working on for next year’s Clovis Music Festival but I bet it’ll be great.

My brother plans on coming back. If my big brother likes it, well, it’s gotta be good.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: