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East Texas Serenaders

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A string band from in and around Mineola, Texas, the East Texas Serenaders are a fine example of how country music worked before Nashville and radio and even recordings mattered much. They played mostly rags and waltzes and two steps, dance music for moving in a circle, a counter-clockwise circle around a floor where the rugs had been lifted up and a lot of loose pine sawdust spread all around. This wasn’t Western Swing; it’s what Western Swing was before Western Swing was. And it was only after the recorded fact that Michelle Shocked realized “Woody’s Rag” from Arkansas Traveler, recorded in a pine-floored dentist’s office in Mineola, Texas, sounds like it could have been one of their own numbers. East Texas music has that kind of magic in it still.

Give them their names; say them once, quietly, into our early Twenty-First Century sky: Henry Bogan; Cloet Hamman; John Munnerlyn; Huggins Williams; Henry Lester; Shorty Lester, from in and around Minneola. They’re dead now.

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