Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Road Trip Music: Arkansas and Missouri

Arkansas and Missouri both lie along the Mississippi River, and have other rivers important in their geography. They also each stand at a crossroads, or a gateway if you will, of southern ways and heartland lifestyles. Things to keep in mind as you listen to the soundtrack choices as the Great American Road Trip: Music travels on.

The Arkansas delta was home ground for a man who became a legend in American and Americana music. Several of his best known songs -- Five Feet High and Rising and Big River, to name two -- came from his experiences growing up in Dyess, Arkansas. As the road trip travels from river bank to mountain across the landscape of Arkansas, take a listen to The Essential Johnny Cash.

John Hartford grew up on the river, too, honing his fiddle and singing skills where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers converge in Saint Louis. In later years when he lived in Tennessee, he chose a home on the river there, too. Hartford was known for his wit and his storytelling as much as for his musicianship. All of these come out as friends and frequent band members gather to create a tribute to the man, his, music, and the river, on
Memories Of John.

Rhonda Vincent has a voice and a gift for singing that’d make any country star proud. She did work in mainstream country for several years, and learned from that that her true heart was in the bluegrass music she’d grown up playing with her family band in Missouri. Since coming back to bluegrass, Vincent has gone from strength to strength, creating award winning albums, selling out concerts, and in a circular turn of things seeing her videos played on country music television, and having country stars such as Keith Urban guest on her albums. Hers is a distinctive, heartland style of music, true to bluegrass, Missouri, and Vincent’s own gifts and vision. One good place to hear all this is her album Good Thing Going.

you may also wish to see
Rhonda Vincent: Beautiful Star
Music Road: Alison Brown: The Company You Keep

a shout out to the Irish side of things, the Kansas City Irish Fest is coming up in September

This is part of The Great American Road Trip, in which I’m partnering up with A Traveler’s Library to add musical ideas to the book and film suggestions for journeys through the regions of the United States which you’ll find there. Stop by and see what the Library has to inspire travels through Arkansas and Missouri. The song Farther Along features in the Library's book selection. I can't say I've ever thought of it as a funeral hymn, as the author of the book seems to. In any case, click on the song title above to hear Gretchen Peters and two well known friends sing the song.

For more about the road trip (and a look at some great road songs) see Great American Road Trip: Music begins

UpTake Travel Gem

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Melanie Haiken said...

I'm a huge fan of Rhonda Vincent; so happy to see her covered here! Also I appreciate your explaining her dual roles in mainstream country and bluegrass, because I did pick up one of her albums used once and didn't like it as it was too Nashville for my taste; glad to know she's gone back to her roots for good.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Ken and I are big Johnny Cash fans (the one exception I make for country music) but I'll have to try to find some bluegrass by Rhonda Vincent.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband grew up on Johnny Cash and now has my son hooked on him too. Rhonda's music sounds interesting - thanks for introducing me to her.

10:42 AM  

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