13 years ago
Clarisse Profilet

Discovering the common thread that runs through the diverse array of popular music over the past century requires a certain amount of musical prowess. But creating a genre out of these threads requires downright eccentricity.


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Tom Morrell and The Time-Warp Top Hands performed a genre of music called Western swing to a diverse crowd of 70 on Jan. 23 at the Conference Center.

An amalgam of virtually every popular style of music of the 20th century, the result is a smooth folksy sound enmeshed with brush percussion, swing beats and far-from-hokey jazz harmonies.

“It has roots in so much American music,” says Craig Chambers, a vocalist for the band. “It borrows from country, bebop, ’50s-style rock, and sort of tails off with rock ‘n’ roll from the ’60s.”

An unusual phenomenon, Western swing began in rural farming communities and quickly spread to the California dance-scene and cities across the country.

Chambers attributes the spread of this musical style to its unique “character, energy and diversity.”

The band members visually embody these qualities just as much as their music does. The musicians can only be described as a talented set of caricatures, decked in 10-gallon hats, down-home colloquialisms and a definitive attitude.

“We haven’t done ‘Oklahoma Hills’ since Moby Dick was a minnow”, Chambers said as Morrell called the key, setting the tempo by chewing his tobacco.

Drummer Greg Hardy requested a song to commemorate his recent divorce entitled, “I’m the Boss Here, Now”. Clearly, chided Hardy, there is only room for one boss in a one-room apartment.