By Rich Kienzle
Routledge – 2003 – 304 pages
Southwest Shuffle documents an important period in country music history. During the '30s and early '40s, hundreds of thousands of "Okies," "Arkies," and other rural folks from around the Southwest resettled in California, in search of work. A country music scene quickly blossomed there, with performers playing Western Swing, Cowboy, and Honky Tonk country. After World War II, these styles rocked country music, leading to the innovations of '60s performers like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard in creating the so-called "Bakersfield Sound." These stories are based on original interviews and archival research by one of the most respected writers on this period of country history. Kienzle writes in a vibrant style, reflecting his long-time love for these musical styles.
"Kienzle is an encyclopedic authority on U.S. country and western music. His enthusiasms are intense and persuasive -- if you like anything at all about the genre, which is far from universal fondness. Here, in a scholarly but thoroughly readable volume, Kienzle explores the Southwest element of the genre, quite distinct -- especially before the 1950s -- from the more traditional Southeastern and Midwestern species. Even the casual fan can hear from memory the voices of Tennessee Ernie Ford, Hank Thompson and Willie Nelson, who figure strongly here. But there are a dozen other main players, and legions of lesser ones. A fine piece of cultural journalism about a powerful engine of music and poetry." -- Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun
"Kienzle, with the gift of a storyteller combined with the details of a professor's research, shows off our state's music roots in his book "Southwest Shuffle," a must for anyone interested in the annals of country and Western music, a link to rock 'n roll, swing and rhythm and blues styles that owe a lot to country boogie." -- Daily Oklahoman
"Kienzie has put together an absorbing and eminently readable account of an important period of music history that's often overlooked, filled as it is with engaging stories and personalities. Any self-respecting fan of the genre should hunt this book down." -- The Austin Chronicle
Rich Kienzle is a well-known writer on country music. He served as contributing editor to Country Music Magazine, has contributed to dozens of journals, and served as researcher, editor and principal writer for The Comprehensive Country Music Encyclopedia (Times Books, 1994). He has annotated over 200 albums, and has been an historical commentator on several Nashville Network documentaries. He lives in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.