The Brazos Valley Boys have a long and rich history. The beginning of the band was around 1946 and started as a small classic county group in Waco. It was when Billy Gray and country music hall of famer Hank Thompson combined forces in the late 40’s that produced one of the best western swing bands in the country. There have been many world-class musicians in the BVB that came from varied musical backgrounds including blues, country, western swing, jazz and big-band swing.
During what would become Hank Thompson’s last recording session, with several of the members of the BVB gathered around Hank for words of wisdom on a break between songs, BVB band members Gary Sullivan and Mike Moore reflected on that conversation: “Hank reminded Morey of a conversation he had earlier with him in Nevada that he—Hank—wanted Morey and the Brazos Valley Boys to continue his legacy and keep on playing music—as good as it can be and be yourselves. “I can’t do this damn job forever, and you boys have got to take it into the future.” Hank was quoted on the 60th BVB CD cover: “I’ve always been proud that the Brazos Valley Boys is synonymous with quality western swing music. That legacy is perpetuated today and will be into the future by Morey and the Brazos Valley Boys.”
BVB leader Morey Sullivan began with Hank in 1979 and was his band leader for most of the time until Hank’s passing in 2007. Morey is the last major western swing band leader that worked with the creator of the band. Morey remembers the first time he worked with Hank, “He said to me, be yourself, don’t copy anyone. I’m not Bob Wills, I love Bob Wills, but I have my own music and I don’t copy Bob. Bob Wills was an original and he would want everyone to be playing music in their own style—not imitating him. I’ve never forgotten that. And I’ve taken his advice to play music in my own style.”
Morey was raised in a musical family in the Kansas City area, soaking up the heavy four-beat swing and vibe of Kansas City jazz. All the family sang and played instruments and sang country harmonies. He attended and sat in on jam sessions where former members of the OK Blue Devils, Count Basie, Benny Moten and others were playing swing music. That music in KC is part of what western swing is comprised. Morey has also worked with BJ Thomas, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jeanne Seely and Jack Green, Don Williams and countless others, and of course, with the stable of stars from the Jim Halsey agency, Hank’s manager and agent. Morey is a member of several western-swing halls of fame associations and the Kansas Music hall of fame. One is his fondest memories is being chosen by Kanas Governor Finney to produce and direct a musical variety show of American music on a two-week tour of Russia in 1994.
Through the years the BVB have earned several awards:
The resume of the Brazos Valley Boys most importantly rests upon the thousands of fans entertained over the decades. Morey stated, “we have fun playing our music and we want fans to have a good time listening and dancing. My job is to bring new fans, younger fans to enjoy what we do. To expose new generations to our music and in doing so, the BVB will exist well into the future. I don’t want to be music of the past—I want to be music of NOW!”