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Clarinets are Cool!

Cowboy & Western Swing

Lucky Bill and the Cactus Kings from Mechanicsville, VA (yours truly on clarinet)

For those of you who remember the Blues Brothers Movie, it's hard to forget that famous line from the scene at Bob's Country Bunker, "We play both kinds, Country and Western." Western is indeed a different genre from Country, and there are three prime components to the style. Cowboy songs from the 19th century, the jazz-influenced dance music known as Western Swing, and a vast musical literature from the "B" western movies of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. Until joining the above band in 2004, I was unaware that the clarinet played a role in this type of music.

This page is currently under construction, while I assemble more data to include on it. But in the meantime, here are a few groups that you can investigate:

Clarinetists found in western music. Many appear in movies uncredited. Here are two to start with:

Okay, there are some starting points for you, and hopefully some links will follow soon. Below, a few more pictures from my own western activities.

Me with my B-flat and A clarinets onstage at Meadow Farm

While normally used for orchestral work, the A clarinet is great in this style.

It plays well in the 'guitar keys', has a very mellow sound, and high notes are

less shrill than with its B-flat counterpart. It takes a two-fisted player to tackle this heritage!


My saddle pal of almost 30 years, Gary Shaver joins me for a gig

with the Cactus Kings. Pictured in the summer uniform, Gary holds his

A clarinet while I hold my B-flat clarinet. (An unlikely combo if we were actually playing)

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