| The Cowtown
Society of Western Music 18th Annual Swing Fest took place
at Holiday Hills Country Club in Mineral Wells, Texas on Saturday
7th May 2016. Special tribute was paid to the "Heroes
Of Western Swing". In all there were 26 Inductees, including
'Disc Jockey Of The Year' Graham Lees (England) and Randy
"Tex" Hill (USA), 'Rising Star' Mikki Daniel and
Leddy Bragg, 'Band O The Year' Shoot Low Sheriff, 'President's
Choice' Valerie Ryals, 'Lifetime Appreciation Award' Chuck
It all kicked of on the Friday
evening with a jam session at Charlie & Linda O'Bannon's
party barn, a couple of miles or so outside of town. A great
gathering of singers and musicians attending and taking part
in the jam session. Some that I've met before such as Brady
Bowen and Chuck Cusimano, and others such as Gill Prather
and Billy Keeble whose music I've played on my shows, but
not had the pleasure of meeting before.
Saturday noon saw the start of
the festival and award ceremonies with some
excellent western swing music interspersed by the inductions
of the Heroes Of Western Swing Awards. The program was compared
by Leon Rausch (the legendary "Voice" of Bob Wills
and His Texas Playboys, 1958 onwards,) Leon now co-owns
the name Bob Wills Texas Playboys along with guitarist Tommy
Allsup. All inductees received a medallion "Western
Swing Hero" a certificate from CSWM stating the recipient
"Is a Lifetime Member" for "Outstanding contributions
in the promotion and preservation of a unique and authentic
genre of American music known as Western Swing – The Official
Music of Texas", plus a certificate from the Governor
of Texas Gregg Abbott granting official recognition, signed
and the Seal of the State affixed.
This has been a great honour and
privilege for Graham, receiving an International Award for
Jockey Of The Year from the Cowtown Society of Western Music!
"I was thrilled to receive the award, but to receive
a certificate from Governor Abbott was unbelievable. An
international award and honoured by the Governor of Texas
was the icing on the cake. In my 15 years of doing country
and western radio I would never in my dreams have expect
this to happen to me!!! A Big Thank You to Gary Beaver (President),
Brady Bowen (Vice President), Joyce Miller (Secretary),
Joe Baker (Membership Director) and other members of the
board. A very special thank you to Howard Higgins (West
Texas Country Records) for nominating me!"
Wells is named for mineral springs in the area, which was
highly popular in the early 1900s,
very much like Britain's own Harrogate and Buxton spar towns.
The impressive Baker Hotel is still a magnificent building
dominating the area. Its claim to fame grew as Hollywood
legends like Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and Big Band leader
Lawrence Welk indulged in the hotel’s unique offerings.
Unfortunately the hotel closed in 1972 and has now fallen
badly into decay. The "Crazy Water" can still
be purchased from the wells outlets at a reasonable cost,
either bottled or bring your own container!!!