” The Lone Star Playboys were a popular country touring band in Central Texas from 1937 to the 1950s but are perhaps best-known for their connection with the “Westphalia Waltz,” a beloved dance standard. Members of the group included vocalist Hamlet Booker and his brother Morris Booker on mandolin, Vince Incardona on banjo, fiddler Cotton Collins, bassist Pee Wee Truehitt, and Bob Walker. During the late 1930s and early 1940s the Lone Star Playboys performed throughout Texas and on radio.
Sources differ regarding the precise origin of the melody for the “Westphalia Waltz.” A documentary (produced by Joe Weed) about the song states that the melody was adapted from a Polish folk song “Pytala Sie Pani,” and that fiddler Cotton Collins molded the tune into a Texas fiddle song after hearing it in Bremond—a Central Texas community with a large Polish population. Other sources claim that Collins heard the song while he was serving in the United States Army in Germany during World War II. At any rate, in 1946 Collins’s performance of the song with the Lone Star Playboys proved to be a popular number at dances. After one such event at Westphalia Hall, the establishment’s manager, B. J. Lignau, commented to the band that Collins’s “No Name Waltz” was a crowd pleaser. Because the song had no name, Lignau suggested the title “Westphalia Waltz” in honor of the town.
The Lone Star Playboys recorded the “Westphalia Waltz” for Blue Bonnet Records, a Dallas label, and the song became a regional hit and was especially popular with the Polish, Czech, and German audiences throughout Central and South Texas. In 1948 legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble, then a member of the Lone Star Playboys, recorded what some music lovers consider to be the definitive version of the waltz. Singer Hamlet Booker also recorded a version with his own lyrics that he called “New Westphalia Waltz.” Steel player Lefty Nason, who had joined the band in 1947, wrote “Steel Guitar Bounce,” which was also a popular number.
The Lone Star Playboys worked as an early road and backing band for budding country star Hank Thompson, but they parted ways after a West Coast tour in 1949. Thompson later went on to release his own version of “Westphalia Waltz” for Capitol Records in 1955, and the song achieved national fame. The Lone Star Playboys, based out of Waco, continued to be a popular draw into the 1950s. By that time bassist Charlie Adams fronted the band, and his song “Hey, Liberace!” for Columbia became a minor hit in 1953. The Lone Star Playboys cut their final recordings for Everstate Records. Photos and other memorabilia of the band are on display at the Little School Museum in Westphalia.