Sunday, March 08, 2009

Adolph Hofner: Czech Texan Western Swing

Adolph Hofner (1916-2000) was, along with Bob Wills, Milton Brown, and others, one of the principal exponents of Western Swing, a highly syncretic style of music that evolved in Texas during the 1930s. I first heard him and his group, the Texans, doing "Gulf Coast Special", on OKeh Western Swing (highly recommended if you can find a copy) back in the 1980s. I later acquired a copy of South Texas Swing, which includes examples of Hofner's work with various groups, ranging from 1936 to the early '50s. Among the cuts is Hofner's classic version of "Cotton-Eyed Joe", along with the Mexican-influenced "Maria Elena", and such typical Western Swing fare as "Better Quit it Now", "Dirty Dog", and "Joe Turner Blues", which reflect in varying degrees the country, jazz, blues, and Hawaiian influences on that style of music. What surprised me on this album were the cuts, such as Star Kovarna, Na Marjanse, and Strashidlo, that are adaptations of Czech folk songs Hofner no doubt learned from his parents and other Czech immigrants in his hometown of Moulton, Texas, and are sung in Czech. An excellent biography of Hofner is on this website.