Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Music Road Trip in North Dakota & South Dakota

Plains, grasslands, rugged hills, wide open spaces -- North Dakota and South Dakota are both all of that, each in their own way. As the Great American Road Trip winds through these states which are both Northern and Western, take a listen to three albums by artists connected to this land.

Celeste Krenz hails from North Dakota. Though her musical career has taken her to Colorado, Nashville, and points beyond, to a partnership in a record company and to a duo project called The Rhythm Angels, it was to North Dakota that her thoughts returned while working on the music for what would become her album My Mother and Me. Her mother, who has made a career in business, had written lyrics years ago and brought them along on a visit to her daughter. At Celeste’s kitchen table, they worked out a batch of songs that contains elements of country, blues, folk, and swing. A tinge of that western sky and wide open prairie thread through he songs, too.

Becky Schlegel grew up on a a farm, but she also spent much of her young years traveling across South Dakota playing in her family band. The love of music stayed with her, as she followed her musical path into bluegrass and a move to Minnesota. She’s won just about every bluegrass and country award the northern plains are have to offer, and is beginning to make her mark on the national scene, both as a songwriter and and singer. Her latest album is called Dandelion. If you enjoy the way Alison Krauss and Lee Ann Womack approach their music, you will want to give Schlegel a listen. Dandelion is a fine place to start, and it’s a good soundtrack for South Dakota, too, as Schlegel opens with Anna, a song inspired by her grandmother, and includes songs such as Colorado Line and I Never Loved You Cowboy.

Tom Peterson puts eloquent words and melody to the landscape and lives lived in the northern plains, as well. He doesn’t sing on Dakota Lullaby: Christine Albert and Chris Gage do that, and a fine job they make of it. Gage grew up in South Dakota and got to know Peterson’s songs, and carried a few of them with him as his music took him on many paths. He’s a fine songwriter himself, as is his wife and duo partner, Christine. When someone gave them an old tape of Peterson’s songs, “I felt as though I’d found gold in the Black Hills,” Christine says. They recorded a whole album Peterson’s songs. The songs range from the funny to the somber to the passionate, all grounded in the heart of the northern plains and yet universal in meaning.

you may also wish to see:
Music Road: now playing: Christine Albert: Paris, Texafrance
Music Road: Ian Tyson: Yellowhead to Yellowstone
more music from the road trip

This is part of The Great American Road Trip, in which I originally partnered 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’d find there. The Library is closed now, but I think you will still find the journeys through music interesting.

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

Are you an artist or music professional who needs a professional biography for your website, or liner notes for your recording project? I can help.

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Frugal Kiwi said...

I love Alison Krauss, so I'll have to give Celeste a go.

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer Margulis said...

I didn't know there were any cool musicians from the Dakotas. I just read Vera's guest blogger's take on North Dakota. This, combined with yours, makes me eager to learn more about this state.

1:08 AM  
Anonymous MyKidsEatSquid said...

Love the title--Dakota Lullaby. My husband grew up in SD but I didn't know about these musicians, thanks.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous sarah henry said...

Who knew such musical talent hailed from the Dakotas? Hats off to you for bringing attention to artists from all the states.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous kris bordessa said...

I'm a fan of Alison Krauss, too, so you know where my money's going!

5:33 PM  

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