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Bob Wills Day at the Capitol

March 4, 10 a.m.3 p.m.

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An annual celebration of an Oklahoma music icon is returning to the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday, March 4. The Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahoma Historical Society have announced this year’s lineup for Bob Wills Day at the Capitol, which will include live music performances by Western swing musicians from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Capitol’s second-floor rotunda.

Free and open to the public, Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, under the direction of Jason Roberts, will be headlining this year’s event with special guest fiddle player and vocalist Katie Shore.

The Bob Wills Day performance schedule:

  • 10 a.m.: Jay Steagall & The Part-Timers
  • 11 a.m.: Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys (under the direction of Jason Roberts) with special guest Katie Shore
  • 12:45 p.m.: Kyle Dillingham
  • 2 p.m.: Oklahoma Swing

Tracy Pitcox will be emceeing the event, an award-winning traditional country music disc jockey and author who has interviewed and worked with many of the top names in the country music industry, from Garth Brooks to Loretta Lynn. The day will also feature special recognitions of Wills—who passed away in 1975—in the Oklahoma State Senate and Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Bob Wills Day at the Capitol commemorates the life and legacy of the “King of Western Swing” who helped popularize the music genre during the 1930s and 40s. Wills’ band, the Texas Playboys, had a daily program on the Tulsa radio outlet KVOO and were regular performers at the venerable Cain’s Ballroom.

Bob Wills Day at the Capitol was started in the 1980s by state Senator John Dahl. The celebration took place every spring until the Capitol restoration project began in 2014. It was brought back in 2023. In 1988, Bob Wills’ song “Faded Love” was designated as Oklahoma’s official country and western song by the state Legislature.

The 2024 event is presented through a partnership of the Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahoma Historical Society. The event is made possible in part through the folk and traditional arts initiative of Mid-America Arts Alliance.

About Bob Wills

Bob Wills is considered the founder of Western swing music, a genre of dance music popular from the 1930s through the 1950s that combined elements of swing jazz, Dixieland jazz, Mexican folk music, blues, polka, and more. Born in Texas in 1905, Wills moved to Oklahoma with his band in 1934 to expand their opportunities. Wills’ popularity in music led to roles in Western musical films during the 1940s. In 1968, Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1999, Wills and the Texas Playboys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His imprint on popular music can still be heard today.

This project is supported in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, which receives support from the State of Oklahoma and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. The Oklahoma Arts Council provides hundreds of grants to organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state’s arts and cultural sector, and manages the art collections at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Additional information is available at arts.ok.gov.

Staff photos by Trait Thompson

Details

Date:
March 4
Time:
10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Event Category:

Location

Oklahoma State Capitol
2300 North Lincoln Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405-521-3356