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Cowtown Society of
Western Music Awards


by Graham Lees 2016


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 Curtis. Graham & Gil Prather

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 Graham with medallion & certificatessome 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 Discclose-up of certificates and medallion 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!"

Baker HotelMineral Wells is named for mineral springs in the area, which was highly popular in the early Crazy Water outlet1900s, 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!!!