23 OCTOBER 2021

Like a lot of people around here — and, in fact, around the world — I miss Steve Ripley a lot. I think I’ve written here before that he and I went back to Oklahoma State in the late ‘60s, a time when we were both deejays and bandleaders. Even then, he was a formidable talent.

Just about every week, when I put together the playlist for SWING ON THIS, I’m reminded about just how much and what Steve could do. In addition to being a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, he was an engineer and a producer — an absolute whiz in the studio. If there was something musical he couldn’t do, I was never aware of it. 

I thought about Steve once again when I compiled the music for this Saturday’s show, beginning, as always, with a tune from Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. This one, an instrumental version of “Little Coquette,” comes from the vinyl LP LET’S PLAY, BOYS!, released in 2015 by the Oklahoma Historical Society’s 46 Star Records. The disc consists of rare tracks restored and remastered from ancient transcription discs,  — a laborious, painstaking process.

Steve Ripley. Indeed, he could do ANYTHING. 

I’ve paired up that Wills cut with “Gone Away,” the first single from Steve’s 2004 solo album. I think it should’ve been a huge hit, and not just because Steve kindly asked me to help him write it and had me play my Vox Jaguar organ on the track. Listening to it again, I understand why the writer John O’Hara famously said that nostalgia is a kind of homesickness; in this litany of things that have, indeed, gone away, you can hear the heartbreaking longing in Steve’s voice (vocally backed by another great Tulsa talent, Debbie Campbell). It still gives me chills every time I hear it.  

Those two songs lead into 14 more cuts of western swing, cowboy jazz, and a surprise or two, ranging from 1930s music to songs from contemporary albums. You can hear it all absolutely free at 7 p.m. Tulsa time this Saturday, over radio station KWGS, 89.5 FM, and live-streaming everywhere atpublicradiotulsa.org


1. “LIttle Coquette,” Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys(for HUGH KIERIG)

2. “Gone Away,” Steve Ripley

3. “Dirty Hangover Blues,” W. Lee O’Daniel and His Hillbilly Boys
(for WES & JEANNIE BENGE and the GLASS LIFTERS) 

4. “Lovin’ You,” John Sebastian & Arlen Roth
(for RANDY JOHNSTON)

5. “Better Quit It Now,” Adolph Hofner and His Texans

6. ‘Big Band Days,” Hank Thompson
(for HAMILL TIME)

7. “Moonlight in Vermont,” Paul Moore
(for JACK & CAROLE BENDER)

8. “Somebody’s Pushin'” Tommy Duncan

9. “San Antonio Rose,” Belle Cabin
(for AP MCQUIDDY and SAM BARRETT)

10. “If These Tears Could Talk,” Billy Parker

11. “The Thingamajig,” Johnnie Lee Wills and His Boys
(for JUSTIN & MISTY LORD)

12. “Waltzin’ Around With My Shadow,” Casey Van Beek and the Tulsa Groove

13. “Oklahoma Stomp,” Spade Cooley and His Orchestra
(for BRETT MCKAY)

14, “Yes She Do, No She Don’t (I’m Satisfied with My Gal),” Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys

15. “True Love,” Red Steagall
(for RAY BINGHAM)

16. “Barn Dance Rag,” Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers