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This Week in Texas Music History: Cloet Hamman

by Stephen Becker 7 May 2010 4:51 PM

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll recall an often overlooked musician who helped lay the foundation for Western swing.



Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman recalls an often overlooked musician who helped lay the foundation for western swing.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.

  • Click the player to listen to the podcast:

  • Expanded online version:

Cloet Hamman, born on May 5, 1899, was the guitarist and last surviving member of the East Texas Serenaders. Although not well known outside of the state, the East Texans Serenaders were one of the most unique and innovative string bands in the Southwest during the 1920s. Featuring fiddle, banjo, guitar and cello, the Serenaders performed breakdowns and other traditional fiddle music, but they specialized in rags and jazzier numbers that drew from African-American musical traditions. The East Texas Serenaders made several recordings in the late 1920s for Columbia and other major labels. The East Texas Serenaders’ records, which blended country, jazz, swing and ragtime, preceded recordings by Bob Wills and Milton Brown by several years and helped lay the foundation for the emergence of Western swing in the 1930s.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll learn about the unlikely origins of one of the state’s best-known songs.

  • Allene (Bogan) Deuson

    I’m so excited about my dad’s band being the focus of this program.
    Henry Bogan, Dad, was the cellist for this band. I’ve collected their
    music over the last twenty+ years, which comes from places as far away as Austria (they recorded all the ETS music on CD in 2000), Canada, where two huge music collections consisting of works by such well-known musicians as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, etc. on CD. This is “American Pop: An Audio History–
    From Minstrel to Mojo: On Record, 1893-1946”. and “That Devilin’ Tune – A Jazz History (1895-1950). (2006 West Hill Radio Archives).

    There are 33-1/3 records from County Records in Floyd, Va., 78’s
    recorded by Brunswick, Decca and Columbia, a set published under
    “The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music”, a similar set, “The Franklin Mint Collection of ‘The Best Country Music of all
    Times'”, a collection of Bluegrass CD’s, on more than one of a series of CD’s entitled “Times Ain’t What they Used to be” produced by Yazoo
    (Shenachie Entertainment), etc., etc. I even found an 8-track tape of
    the music, though I never had anything to play it on.

    There is a new museum in Mineola, Tx. in the old Post Office building
    where Dad worked for 30+ years. They have dedicated a display case
    to ETS, and my brother and I have donated part of our collection to it.

    Huggins Williams, the Lindale fiddle player, was the backbone of the
    group. All of the musicians were great friends, and all were good
    musicians. Jack Hopper was another guitarist, and John Munnerlyn
    was the mandolin. Shorty Lester replaced Munnerlyn when he moved to Houston. Shorty’s brother, Henry, played second fiddle later with
    the group.

    There are several books which document their history– one is the “Encyclopedia of Country Music” published by the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. “The Handbook of Texas Music” is the most
    recently published book and provides more detail, since my older brother supplied much of the information. All this occurred before
    I was born.

    I’m looking forward to enjoying the podcast you mentioned, and plan
    to let others know about it.

    Thanks for what you do to promote Texas music.

    Allene (Bogan) Deuson