Blues West Coast Swing Music



Blues West Coast Swing Music

Blues West Coast Swing Songs at Amazon Mp3


Song Title


Song Title

The James Solberg Band

Cheaper to Keep Her

Big Joe and the Dynaflows

Big Legs

Tina Turner

Rock Me Baby

David Egan

Half Past the Blues

James Solberg

Buzz Me

Koko Taylor


Etta James

Baby what you want me to do

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Look at Little Sister

Brother Yusef

I Got the Blues

Eric Clapton

Sweet Home Chicago

B. B. King

The Thrill is gone

Duke Robillard

How Long Baby

Eva Cassidy

Wade in the Water

Tracy Chapman

Give me one Reason

Sheryl Crow

A change would do you good

Sheryl Crow

Can't Cry Anymore

Danny Gatton

Sky King

Keb' Mo'

She Just Wants to Dance

Kenny Neal

Blues Stew

Eric Clapton

Before You accuse Me

Sonny Del-Rio

Blue Light Boogie

Mike Morgan and the Crawl

Cause I Love You

R.L. Burnside

It's Bad You Know

Eva Cassidy

Wade in the Water

Howlin' Wolf

How Many More Years

Rolling Stones

Beast of Burden

Susan Tedesci

Friar's Point

Johnie Taylor

Juke Joint

Magic Slim & James Cotton

When The Levee Breaks (Part II)

Tom Waits

Heartattack and Vine

India Arie

Back to the middle


(She's got) Skillz

Alannah Myles

Black Velvet

Celine Dion

Le Ballet

Big Bill Broonzy

Key To The Highway

R. L. Burnside

I Got Messed Up

  West Coast Swing dance originated during World War II when soldiers stationed on the west coast wanted to dance. The dances that were popular at the time were the Jitterbug and what later became the East Coast Swing. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and sailors were stationed on California military bases in preparation for VJ Day. With so many service people wanting to dance on very small dance floors, there simply was not enough room to do the more elaborate and space consuming moves of the Jitterbug and East Coast Swing. Dancers started adapting by doing the same types of moves that are done in the Jitterbug and East Coast Swing only in a back and forth fashion in a much smaller area, or slot. This slotted dance was not only conducive to a lesser area of the dance floor, but also to a sultry rhythm and blues tempo. This was the type of music, with its roots in gospel, being played in bars and honky tonks at the time (Whistler). Big band orchestras also performed swing music, some of which was blues. The blues became the signature sound of the West Coast Swing.

  Many different styles of music are great for dancing West Coast Swing, but blues is probably the most popular. That is because “the rhythm is a mixture of slow walks and triple step beats” (Whistler). The typical West Coast Swing blues include a slow smooth rhythm with an emphasis on tempo. “The musical structure of swings, including West Coast Swing, is usually four beats per musical measure, but you may encounter some two-beats-per-measure music used for swing dancing “ (Moore). West Coast Swing dance steps accommodate this slower, more laid back rhythm too. “Many steps are simple walking, with heel leads. . . .With tempos of 25-35 measures per minute, [West Coast Swing is] more easy-going, sometimes even lazy. . . .West Coast is smooth and cool with a sort of elastic energy” (Sears). Dancers hold their upper bodies upright with legs forward in front forming a “V” shape with the legs of a partner. They rock back and forth, forward and backward, in a slot, stepping on the beat.

  During World War II, big bands played the blues that people danced to in dance halls, night clubs and bars. Sometimes the music was called “Boogie Woogie,” as in “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” recorded by the Andrews Sisters in January 1941, almost a year before the United States entered the war. It is considered one of the first “jump blues” tunes. Another big band era song synonymous with World War II is “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller. The Glenn Miller Orchestra also made “Chattanooga Choo Choo” a dance hit in 1939. Duke Ellington also had a big band swing hit with “Take the A Train” in 1941. Other artists associated with early West Coast Swing music include Ella Fitzgerald, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and his orchestra, Artie Shaw and his orchestra, Count Basie, and, of course, Billie Holiday. Several other big band orchestras were popular at the time, but, some say, because of a musician’s strike that lasted from 1942 until 1944, big bands went out of style in favor of vocalists.

  After the war, swing music shifted from singers attached to big bands to novelty singers, such as Johnnie Ray and Teresa Brewer. This changed the music from being largely dance driven to vocalist centered (Monaghan 126-127). Instead of singers being accompanied by orchestras getting credit, just the singers’ names were associated with songs. For instance, some of the blues songs that people were dancing West Coast Swing to in the 1950s were performed by artists synonymous with the era. “My Blue Heaven,” written by Walter Donaldson and George A. Whiting and performed originally in 1927 by Gene Austin accompanied by a string orchestra, later became a hit by Jimmie Lunceford and his big band orchestra in 1935. By far the most familiar version of the song though is by Fats Domino in 1956. “Diddy Wah Diddy” was written by Willie Dixon and Elias McDaniel (a.k.a. Bo Diddly) but only Bo Diddly’s name was associated with the single in 1956. Some singers, like Frank Sinatra, transitioned from big band to vocalist centered performances. Another was Peggy Lee. She sang with Benny Goodman and his orchestra in the 1940s, but in 1958 she covered the song “Fever” written by Eddie Coolie and John Davenport in 1956. Originally it was recorded by Little Willie Littlefield, but that is not the version with which most people are familiar. In fact, “Fever” became Peggy Lee’s signature song. Her version earned a nomination for “Song of the Year” at the 1959 Grammies. Elvis covered the song a couple years later in 1960. Others include “Kansas City,” written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952. Little Willie Littlefield recorded that song also in the same year under the title, "KC Lovin' which became a regional hit in and around Los Angeles with West Coast Swing dancers. Another popular swing dance tune of the 1950s “Johnny B. Goode,” was written and performed by Chuck Berry in 1958. It had a faster beat and transitioned well to rock and roll.

  With the 1960s came the British invasion and rock and roll. Partner dancing lost its popularity in favor of the freestyle and fad dancing done by the young people of the generation. However, blues music continued and some songs that people still dance West Coast Swing to came out of the new musical genres. Aretha Franklin has several songs like 1967’s “Natural Woman” and 1969’s “Chain of Fools” that get people swing dancing. Other blues artists tried to stay relevant in the 1960s and after like Miles Davis. “Black Satin” (1972) by Miles Davis from his On the Corner album is a good example of this effort. Davis wrote this song in an attempt to appeal to fans of Sly and the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix. Other later songs include several by the Rolling Stones, who like to see themselves as blues artists. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1968) and “Brown Sugar” (1971) are just two of their songs that have a West Coast Swing dance tempo. Other popular songs with the West Coast Swing tempo include “Addicted to Love” (1986) by Robert Palmer, “U Can’t Touch This” (1990) by M.C. Hammer and “Bleeding Love” (2007) by Leona Lewis. As long as artists continue to record blues songs, West Coast Swing dancers will dance to them.

  Works Cited:

Monaghan, Terry. "Rock Around the Clock: The record, the film, and the last historic dance contest."
Popular Music History 3.2 (2008): 123-168.

Moore, Brent & Judy. "An Introduction to West Coast Swing." 26 February 2011.
Round 30 May 2011

Sears, Harold and Meredith. "West Coast Swing." 22 December 2009. Round 30 May 2011

Whistler, Louis and Betty. "Segments/West Coast Swing." May 2011. 2step2. 29 Nat 2011

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