The small West Texas town of Turkey, Texas has welcomed tens of thousands of attendees to the annual Bob Wills Day festival since 1972. Today, preparations are underway to celebrate the events 41st year and, in many ways, the jam-packed tribute to the legendary innovator of Western Swing has itself become legendary. This year, the Bob Wills Day festival will culminate with a full day of activities starting on Thursday Night and will continue until Saturday night. In honor of the milestone, the popular and treasured venue that has entertained crowds for the last 40 years will be joined by new features, special guests, a parade, a barbeque cook-off and a grand reunion of former Texas Playboys and friends of Texas Playboys.
"For some of our residents, it seems like a just yesterday when Bob Wills Day began, and, for others, the festival has been around their whole lives," says Neal Edwards, president of the Bob Wills Foundation in Turkey. "People from around the world come each year to play, listen and dance to Bob Will's music and to experience Turkey as a place where it began. We're excited to be celebrating years and believe this year will be the best! We hope everyone who has been to the festival will return and anyone who is just how hearing about Bob Wills Day will want to experience it for themselves."
Turkey is the hometown of Bob Wills, the famous band leader, fiddler, composer, charismatic performer and movie star who fused old time fiddle tunes, jazz blues, country, mariachi and gospel music into Western Swing, one of the few truly American music forms. Western Swing is music made for dancing by a man uniquely in tune with the power of innovation and improvisation. Recognized as a major influence on music and musicians who followed him, Bob Wills is an American icon.
For many, Bob Wills Day has become a pilgrimage, a step back in time and a connection to a history rooted in the cotton fields and expressed in a uniquely American music form; for some, it is a fun-filled festival of dancing and jamming; and for others, it is the discovery of the power of improvisation.
In the week prior to the last Saturday in April, muck like wagon trains, the RVs, chartered buses and cars with license plated from across the continent will begin to circle the open lots in Turkey! For early arrivals, parking places will be found and temporary neighborhoods will form in every available area. By mid-week, the normally sleepy town will teem with visitors of all ages, many of whom have lodged in surrounding towns, and music will be heard from all directions. In the midst of planned activities like the concerts, fiddlers contest, parade and dances, attendees will visit the Bob Wills monument in the City Park, stroll through the Bob Wills Museum, have lunch at the Hotel Turkey, or meet and greet others to share stories. Many will join in the jam-sessions that pop up day and night in practically every corner of town.
The 41st Bob Wills Day festival line-up includes some exciting additions like the 2010 Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame inductee, Billy Mata; Asleep at the Wheels' Jason Roberts aka 'the Texas Fiddle man', who plays Bob Wills in the critically acclaimed play, "A Ride with Bob;" Jake Hooker and the Outsiders; plus the ever popular Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys and Dr. Charles Townsend as Master of Ceremonies.
The Bob Wills Foundation of Turkey Texas (501c3) is operated solely by volunteers and was established in 1971 to preserve and share the music and life of Bob Wills as a unique and central figure in American history and as a beloved son of Turkey Texas.