Adolph Hofner and the Pearl Wranglers

VINTAGE
The true sound of the Texas dance Hall.

HERE’S THE TRUE SOUND OF the South and Central Texas dance hall. Adolph Hofner, born in 1916 in the predominantly Czech community of Moulton and based mainly in San Antonio since the thirties, recorded Western swing and its variants for several national labels starting in 1938. But he was best known in the Hill Country and the Valley as a tireless performer who knew exactly what the people wanted come Saturday night. After his music fell from fashion, he signed with Luling’s Sarg Records in 1956, putting his favorites on vinyl for die-hard fans until 1973. His best bands included the soaring swing fiddler J. R. Chatwell, spunky pianist Charlie Poss, versatile drummer Eddie Bowers, and Adolph’s brother and steel guitarist, known as “Bash” — short for the nickname “Bashful,” though it could just as easily have referred to his steel style. Adolph played guitar, sang a little, and kept his bands swimming effortlessly in their musical melting pot. They cut old-country folk songs (“Julida Polka”), American folk music that had resonated in Texas for generations (“Under the Double Eagle”), stately waltzes (“Westphalia Waltz”), bouncy original polkas (“The County Fair Polka”), Western swing (“Steel Guitar Rag”), honky-tonk (“Pistol Packin’ Mama”), Spanish-flavored ballads (“The Three Caballeros”), rockin’ country boogie (“Rockin’ and A-Boppin”), modern country (“You Ain’t Woman Enough”), and all the regional dances (“Cotton Eyed Joe,” “Dance the Paul Jones-Old Joe Clark,” “Dude Ranch Schottische,” “Put Your Little Foot”). Remarkably, no matter what the material, every track sounds unmistakably like the same band. As the result of a stroke in 1993, Hofner doesn’t perform anymore, but the 35 tracks on this double CD are the next best thing to being there when he did. by John Morthland

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