Cowboy Jam Session: Spring Fling
Montana singer and song writer Stephanie Davis played to a full house in our county seat of Wibaux, MT, on March 19. Fortunately, the performance fell between major snow and ice storms, which is always a concern on the Great Plains this time of year.
To close the evening, Davis sang “Wolves,” quite possibly her best-known composition, made famous by Garth Brooks. She also sang “Talkin’ Harvest Time Blues.” The latter is a playful romp about an overzealous catalog-shopping gardener who works maniacally to get everything planted, enlisting unwitting family members who drop by for a visit the day the order arrives. (Lyrics at http://www.stephaniedavis.net/talkin%27_harvest.htm). My husband and I may have laughed loudest, having retrieved our seed order from the mailbox on the way to the show. The fun continued afterwards as Davis shared her ideas with us about making a music video of the song.
“Talkin’ Harvest Time Blues” appears on Davis’ Crocus in the Snow album. Other popular songs from the CD include the title track, also appropriate this time of year, “Good Night Little Cowpup,” “Ikey,” and “Somethin’ ‘Bout Montana.” To order, send $17 (postpaid) to Recluse Records, 838 Countryman Creek Rd., Columbus, MT 59019; 406-326-2180; http://www.stephaniedavis.net.
With spring’s arrival and talk of videos, here are two DVDs dealing with ranching and agriculture:
The Ranching Way of Life: San Luis Valley, Colorado takes a look at sheep and cattle ranching in the 30-mile-wide, 100-mile-long high-mountain desert valley between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains in south-central Colorado. The video was designed to deepen the understanding and appreciation for ranching and those raising the food we eat. Released in 2008 by the Saguache County Sustainable Environment and Economic Development, it portrays the seasonal work, personalities, and scenery found outside city limits.
A cultural heritage and occupational arts project, there is superb footage of calving and lambing, grafting an orphan calf onto a mother who has lost her calf, along with branding, irrigating and haying. There’s a 30-minute general audience version and a 26-minute youth version, which would be excellent for use in the classroom and for those who home school.
The Ranching Way of Life sells for $12 (postpaid) from Peggy Godfrey, 19157 Co. Rd. 60, Moffat, CO 81143; 719-256-4989.
Sky Settles Everything: The Wayne James Story is a 90-minute film produced by Oregon poet Verlena Orr about her 73-year-old cousin. James and Orr grew up in northern Idaho. He spent his life in stewardship of animals on the land; she earned a degree in poetry and made her home on the West Coast. They get back together to reminisce in the film. Scenes shot on location show James at work on the ranch and Orr reading her poetry amid the landscape that inspired it. (Watch the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuYwWPrihos)
Orr says she initially planned to tape old-timers telling stories. The idea evolved into a documentary about James, who makes his living on a small, family-sized feeder-calf operation. It probes the generations and examines a deeply personal side of rural life. Footage from a dance at the grange hall is especially touching. (For more about the family and the movie: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/photowk54.htm)
Sky Settles Everything sells for $12 (postpaid) from Verlena Orr, 1907 NW Hoyt St., Portland, OR 97209-1224; 503-224-1849.
If all this talk of videos and documentaries has you hungry for more, look into the Deep West Videos that premier each year during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. A project of the Western Folklife Center, the videos and slide shows tell first-hand stories from the rural West rooted in the values of life on the land.
Using digital communication tools, Western Folklife Center staff assists storytellers with these simple yet elegant home-made productions. From humorous to heartfelt, the subject matter and geographical distribution make clear the diversity found within the American West. One of this year’s shorts that was an audience favorite was filmed in Wyoming. It’s Time for Dandelion Wine by Madeleine Graham Blake follows Miss V the Gypsy Cowbelle through the steps of making dandelion wine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul2qABYLy9M.
For more on the Deep West Video project select “Audio/Video” at http://www.westernfolklife.org Annual compilations of the Deep West Videos are available for $20 each (plus shipping) from the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop, 501 Railroad St., Elko, NV 8980; 775-738-7508, Ext. 234; email@example.com.
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