Welcome to the Church of Western Swing!

Dance to live music with Tommy Thomsen & The Texas Playboys

April 24 – 27, 2024 · Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & Saturday · 9PM–1AM

Always the last week of April in Turkey Texas.

ABOUT THE CHURCH OF WESTERN SWING

The Church of Western Swing was established in the year 2000. But actually, it had begun 20 years before, when Gene Crownover, the legendary steel guitar player for Bob Wills began working with Henry Baker's band out of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Soon, many of Bob's old band mates found themselves working with Henry Baker. Saxman - Glen "Blub* Reese, piano pounder - Clarence Cagle and fiddler - Curly Lewis all came to play with Henry. One day Gene asked Henry to play bass guitar with the Texas Playboys because Leon Rausch had to leave for another gig. He told Henry 'If you ever go, you'll never miss another year!” What he said was true. Henry never missed another year.

By the year 2000, the people were getting into Turkey more than a week before Bob Wills Day. So Henry, Bobby Baker and part of the old Texas Playboy band started playing shows at the The Church of Western Swing. The shows went on for 18 years until Henry passed away on June 2, 2017. In 2018, Henry's widow Doris decided to sell the place to the right buyer. Someone who would cherish the old place and perhaps rebuild it into what it once was many years ago - honoring the tradition of Western swing music and the legacy of Bob Wills in Turkey Texas.

Tommy Thomsen, a true Bob Wills fan of many years, a singer of Western Swing and a four time inductee into Western Swing Halls of Fame - Sacramento CA, Seattle WA, Tulsa OK, and Mineral Wells, TX. Tommy was in Turkey with his partner Ms. Freya Horne for the celebration, and heard that the Church was for sale. He spoke with Freya and decided it was actually an opportunity and blessing in disguise. They made an offer to Doris Baker, who graciously accepted. As of June 2018, the Church officially changed hands.

Tommy feels "It's the spiritual center of Western Swing." It is filled with signed photographs of Texas Playboys and other great musicians no longer with us, posters, flyers, playbills, instruments, saddles and flags line the walls. We are thrilled to be the new owners of this great unique venue.

The auditorium is more like a museum, with theater seats and stage, and lots of memorabilia. Great efforts are now and have been underway rebuilding the Church of Western Swing. The walls and ceilings are replaced, as well as new foundation with subfloors and new flooring. New RV hookups and dozens of other repair/replace items remain on the agenda: Wi-Fi, audio visual upgrades, roof, stage, dance floor and bathroom.

Any and all donations are greatly appreciated and are tax deductible. Your generosity will benefit the Church of Western Swing in preserving this unique space and promoting Western Swing music for generations to come.

ABOUT BOB WILLS DAY IN TURKEY, TEXAS

Bob Wills Day is officially the last Saturday in April.

In the week prior to Bob Wills Day, RV's chartered buses, pickup trucks and cars from across the country begin to circle the open lots in Turkey Texas. The town is soon teeming with excited visitors. Music is heard from all directions, the Saturday morning Main Street Parade, the Saturday Texas Playboys have a free concert on the lawn, the Saturday night dance and The Church of Western Swing host dances Wednesday through Saturday night 9pm - 1am.

For some, Bob Wills Day is a pilgrimage, a step back in time and a connection to a cultural history rooted in the cotton fields and also expressed in a uniquely American form of music called Western Swing. Many adventures await Western Swing fans - shop at vendor tents and gift shops, visit the Bob Wills Monument in the City Park, enjoy the Bob Wills Museum and the morning educational music shows for kids. See the famous Hotel Turkey, perhaps even get married at The Church of Western Swing, just like two couples from England in 2006. In Turkey, anything can change at a moment's notice. No tellin’ who might show up next.

This small West Texas town has welcomed tens of thousands of attendees to the annual Bob Wills Day festival since 1972. From as far away as Australia, England, Germany and Japan, from babies to 90 year old dancers, the jam packed legacy of The Legendary Bob Wills has also become a legendary event of its own in its 40+ year history. It is a fun-filled Festival of dancing, musicians jamming to Western Swing tunes on the covered "Slab" on Main St. to the kids fiddle contest to the Bar-B-Que cookout and enjoying friends both old and new. Just meeting and greeting others who truly enjoy this music and culture is a joy in itsel