Cowboy Jam Session: Western Culture News & Reviews |

Cowboy Jam Session: Western Culture News & Reviews

Jeri L. Dobrowski

Anthologies – a collection of stories, poems or audio recordings – are an excellent way to sample a variety of artists’ works without breaking the bank.

Consider these:

A generous 26 tracks are included on Held each April at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (BBHC) in Cody, WY, the music festival noted its silver anniversary in 2007. To celebrate, the BBHC assembled recordings from 24 years of live stage performances. That’s both the good news and the bad news. There are gems among the titles, but a handful lack technical quality. Thank goodness somebody had the foresight to make the recordings!

Skimming the list of performers, several are deceased; others, to my knowledge, never released a recording of their own. It’s an amazing time capsule featuring, among others, Jim Bob Tinsley, Lyle “Wild Horse” Cunningham, Liz Masterson and Sean Blackburn, Otto Rosfeld, Gary McMahan, Joe Bain, Duane Dickinson, Howard Parker, Stan Howe and Kelly Wells, Kyle Evans, Jean Prescott, Gene Davenport, and Buck Ramsey, Richard Dillof and Amanda Ramsey.

Described by the BBHC as “capturing the essence of cowboy music,” the CD sells for $19.99 plus postage. For a complete track listing and audio clips, go to Write the BBHC at 720 Sheridan Ave., Cody, WY 82414; call (800) 533-3838.

I first heard on a drive-hard-till-you-get-there road trip. It was well after midnight when my traveling buddy slipped it into the CD player. The tunes and tales added considerable interest to an otherwise uninteresting stretch of blacktop. Released by Western Jubilee Recording Company in 2004, it showcases artists in the company’s catalog at the time.

Don Edwards kicks off the 20 tracks with “The Old Chisholm Trail.” He’s heard several more times, solo and with special guests, including the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Waddie Mitchell. A poet, Mitchell recites on two additional tracks. The velvety harmonies of the Sons of the San Joaquin are featured on four tracks: “Sierra Nevada,” “He’s Runnin’ out of Roundups,” “From Whence Came the Cowboy” and “Unclouded Day.”

Red Steagall offers “My America”; David Wilkie & Cowboy Celtic deliver “The Drover Road to Amulree”; Katy Moffatt sings “The Brazos”; Wylie & the Wild West set Ogilvie’s “Hooves of the Horses” to music; Glenn Ohrlin spins the tale, “International Glenn.” Instrumentals by Rich O’Brien fit nicely within the collection, as does “Velociraptor Rag” by Tom Morrell.

Selling for $15, that’s only 75 cents per track! Shipping to U.S. addressees is free on website orders over $50. Order from Western Jubilee Recording Company, PO Box 9187, Colorado Springs, CO 80932; 1-800-707-2353;

Although not technically an anthology, feels like one. Hank Harris, singer, songwriter and musician, presents 15 popular songs from the early days of historic Deadwood, SD. A project of the Adams Museum & House, the collection reproduces the music of Deadwood’s concert and dance halls at the turn of the century.

Liner notes reveal that before a disastrous fire in 1879, “Deadwood boasted more entertainment venues than any town of its size in the nation.” Some venues were honorable; others more lascivious. Regardless, Deadwood was filled with music day and night. “Spirituals, patriotic and political music, minstrel songs, ethnic samplings, opera and dance hall music converged on Deadwood streets during an era unlike any other.”

This is the music captured in And what a grand compilation it is! A rousing “Short’nin Bread” opens the show. “On Top of Old Smokey” brings it to a close. In between are “Gary Owen,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot/Wade in the Water,” “Camptown Races,” “Red River Valley,” “Dixie,” and Yankee Doodle,” among others.

A second collection, , further investigates early-day music of the Gulch. (Of the two, my own personal favorite is #I. But, what’s not to like about “Goober Peas” and “Oh, Susanna/Polly Wolly Doodle,” appearing on #II?) Both use instruments of the era: banjos, tambourines, spoons, hambone, wooden flute and Chinese pipa.

The CDs sell for $16 each, plus postage. Shop for them on the Adams Museum web site: Contact the museum at 605-578-1714; 54 Sherman St., Deadwood, SD 57732.