Church of Western Swing

 

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“The Church of Western Swing” was started in ‘2000’. It really began 20 years before that, when Gene Crownover started working with Henry Baker’s Band, out of Bartlesville, OK. Soon, Glen (Blub) Rhees, Clarence Cagle, & Curly Lewis were also playing in the band. Gene asked Henry to go to Turkey in ’82 to play bass on the Sat. afternoon show, because Leon Rausch had to leave for another job. He said, “If you ever go once, you’ll never miss a year”. Well, that turned out true in Henry’s case. After that first year, B.J. Robison & Jim Majors, with the Bob Wills Foundation, hired Henry to furnish the sound for the annual Bob Wills Days Event, which he’s done ever since. 

 

Location is 10th and Houston

 

The Foundation furnished Henry a place to stay during the events. Bob & Ann Baker help Henry & Doris each year. Jam sessions continued to grow each year. In 1999, Henry counted heads at four in the morning, and, there were 70 musicians in the house and over a hundred outside, listening through the windows. WE NEEDED A BIGGER PLACE. The old Assembly of God Church was empty, and, they were about to tear it down. With B. J. Robison’s help locating the owner, Henry bought the place in 1999. Henry had started doing a Thursday Night Show in the Bob Wills Center in ’96. It started as a Tribute to Glen Rhees, who passed away that year. 
By 2000, people were getting into Turkey a week before Bob Wills Day, so, Henry & Bobby, and part of the Playboy Band started playing at the “Church” on Tuesday night. The popularity of “The Church of Western Swing” has grown so, that now the band starts playing Friday, the week before Bob Wills Day. Henry shuts down on the Friday night that the Playboys play, and does the sound for them. Inside, on Friday night, and, outside, on Saturday Afternoon. Bobby is busy Saturday with the sound for the indoor Fiddle Contest. Then, it’s back to the “Church” for the last night of Bob Wills Days. At midnight, it’s like saying goodbye to everyone at a family reunion, tears and all. 

This year the "BAKER BOYS" and the "COWS BAND" will play the Thursday night dance at the Bob Wills Center, instead of playing at the "Church" that night.

Bob Wills Day is officially the last Saturday in April. It has now become the place to get married for Bob Wills’ fans. Two couples flew from England in 2006 to get married in “The Church of Western Swing” on "Bob Wills Day". Russ and Christy Yates got married in 2006, later in the year. Eldon Shamblin's granddaughter got married at the "Church" last year. Another wedding is planned this year on "Bob Wills Day".




The “Church” is not a bar or club. NO SMOKING.

Doris Baker, Henry’s wife, says, “It is more of a place for good fellowship with friends and family and Bob Wills music.” 

The auditorium is more like a museum, with theater seats and stage, and lots of memorabilia.







The Band that works with Henry consists of Brother Bobby on steel, and Henry's wife, Doris Ann, along with Lucy Dean Record, Wayne Glasson, Jimmy Burson, Odie James, Lee Barlow, Gary Johnson, Michael Grace, Bill Gilbert, Rick Suddith, Alfie Johns, Walter Lyons, Rod Rodriquez, Dayna Wills, Glynn Duncan, Billy Champion, Buster Redwine , Joe Settlemires, Jimmy Young, and Bobby Wynne. Many other guest musicians work with the band at times. 



 In “2009”, Susie Luchsinger is recording the “Cowboy Church Show” on Sunday night, Apr. 19th , for RFD-TV.  A Western Swing Band from Scotland will be at the “Church” on Apr. 20th this year. 

The "Church" also hosts an annual Christmas Party, Valentine Party, and Halloween Party.

In Turkey, anything can change at a moments notice. No tellin’ who might show up next. 

That’s a little history on “The Church”.






2007 Church of Western Swing