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Tennessee Local: a Western Swing celebration

September 22, 2012


By Kathy Edwards McFarland

This blog has been so much fun to write, and now that I have more than 160 posts, its time for me to celebrate and give a nod to my long time friend and music mentor, Carolyn Martin.

Back in junior high and high school, Carolyn and I were best buds, and listened on end, to artists from Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, to Elton John (yes, at the time the albums on vinyl were new releases.)

Carolyn turned me on to one of her favorite bands – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (most times, the group was minus Mr. Young.) She would try desperately to mimic Stephen Stills’ guitar chords for various songs – but became frustrated when she realized, Stills altered the standard string tuning. Even back then, Carolyn (then Rogers), had a deep passion for playing and singing “her music.”

When David Martin and she married, they quickly found their way to Nashville (1985). Dave – bassist, and electronic whiz, started up a recording studio near their home in a Nashville community called Joelton.

A few years back (I really don’t want to count how many,) I got to stay a few days with Dave and Carolyn.

The first night I was there – Carolyn sang with The Time Jumpers at the Station Inn. The band, now reformed and playing country, was deep into Western Swing. What a band, and what a great sound. Ranger Doug (Riders in the Sky) sang lead, and Too Slim (Riders in the Sky) played the upright bass. I still cannot keep straight every musician appearing on the stage (14 – I think – played and sang that night.

Both Carolyn and Dave have established themselves as top-notch performers, playing solo, together, or with larger bands. Further, Carolyn has recorded numerous kick-butt tracks – one of my all-time faves is Route 66 from the Time Jumpers’ “Live at the Station Inn.”

OK, that prefaced this post’s main topic – Carolyn Martin recently released her best album yet – Tennessee Local. The recording captures Carolyn’s fabulous vocal Swing and Western Swing style. The CD recorded at Java Jive Studios, is available at

What? Western Swing is Jazz? You betchya!

Some folks may not be too familiar with Western Swing, but more than one knowledgeable observer has described Western Swing as “Big band jazz, with fiddle and steel instead of trumpets and saxes”. Western Swing is a style of music that was born in Texas, matured in Oklahoma during the 1930s and California during the war years and became popular throughout the United States in the 1950’s. It’s an amalgamation of the music of the Big Band era, Blues, Dixieland and the popular songs of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s combined with the ethnic styles of Mexican, Czech, German and Appalachian music.

Carolyn’s music draws inspiration not only from the classic Western Swing groups of the 1930s through the 1950s, but also from the Big Band Swing era, Broadway show tunes, and Southern Blues. Her latest CD, prior to “Tennessee Local,”  was “Cookin’ With Carolyn” – named the 2011 Best Western Swing Album by the Western Music Association while her prior project, “Swing” was named as one of the top Swing CD’s of the year in 2009. Carolyn was recently named the 2010 Western Swing Female Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists, was nominated by the Western Music Association for 4 awards in 2010 (including, Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year) and was inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall Of Fame in 2011.

Hoping fans of Western Swing and Carolyn Martin find some venues in the Denton, Texas, area – would be a joy to share this fine and fun place with my good friend and Jazzy Swing artist. (Yes, that was a shameless plug.)


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