Thirty Years Later, The History of Western Swing in 26 Minutes as Told by Johnny Gimble

Johnny Gimble and Bob Wills, circa '64
Johnny Gimble and Bob Wills, circa '64

What you'll find after the jump was posted to Vimeo only a few hours ago: a cleaned-up version version of Ken Harrison's 1981 doc on Western Swing fiddle-playing legend Johnny Gimble titled, simply, Gimble's Swing. The film, made for the Tennessee Folklore Society, was exec produced by Blaine Dunlap, another local hero; and it was shot all over, from the late, great Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin to Sumet-Burnet Sound Studio here, the last recording studio in which Bob Wills would ever set foot.

The Tyler-born Gimble, who lives down in Dripping Springs, continues to perform and record: Just last year the 85-year-old cut Celebrating With Friends with the likes of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Vince Gill; it opens with Gimble reminiscing and closes with Garrison Keillor proclaiming him a "national treasure," an understatement. Ray Benson's on the record too, and he shows up toward the end of Gimble's Swing looking like a giant kid granted the opportunity to share a stage with his hero. The whole movie's a 26-minute grin.

Harrison, who made that doc about Angela Hunt's fiddlin'-around great-uncle and 1991's Deep Ellum murder mystery starring Kim Pendleton, uses Gimble to recount the history of Western Swing, including a pit stop at the old WRR. Gimble knew and played with 'em all, from the Light Crust Doughboys to Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys to Jim Boyd, with whom he performs brother Bill and the Cowboy Ramblers' immortal "Under the Double Eagle" in the film, one of its myriad highlights. So jump. You won't be able to help yourself.

Update at 2:38 p.m. Monday: Since the Vimeo version is now unavailable, here's the YouTube take, which is still mighty fine viewin'.

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