Wednesday, January 05, 2011

road trip music: American northwest

The snows of Montana, the mountains of Idaho, mountains and coastal waters of Washington State, and the expanse of the Great Land, Alaska, are the places the Great American Road Trip will travel in January. The soundtrack for this part of our trip ranges from bluegrass to country to classical music.

Stephanie Davis is a woman who really gets Montana, her native state, and the celebrations and struggles that make up life in the contemporary western states, Davis has had success in Nashville, but it wasn’t her place to stay: Montana called her home. Listen to her album Crocus in the Snow and you will learn about the American west, a west you may stephanie davis coverjust have glimpsed around the edges of popular images and books on the subject.

Rosalie Sorrels lives in Idaho, where she’s been writing songs that speak of heart and humanity and justice for decades. For the Idaho part of our trip, though, the soundtrack I suggest is an album she put together in tribute to another songwriter whose writings on social justice have become part of the American songbook. Take a listen to Strangers in Another Country.

Mark O’Connor got his start in Washington State, a start that would take him from bluegrass fiddle championships to rock bands, from being in the top ranks of Nashville sidemen to fronting a jazz ensemble to composing and playing classical music. In the process he’s created a classical genre he thinks of as the new American music, drawing on all those elements. Listen to what he’s talking about on Americana Symphony.

Up in Alaska, there are thriving interests in just about every sort of music. Country Grammy nominee Jewel is an Alaskan, and the bluegrass band Bearfoot was first formed there. You can hear their work on Follow Me.

Two updates of note: Rosalie Sorrels has passed on since this story was first written, and Mark O’Connor has returned to making bluegrass music with his O’Connor Family Band, about whom you will read more here at Music Road.

you may also wish to see
Music Road: road trip music: American west
Music Road: Ian Tyson: Yellowhead to Yellowstone
Music Road: Tish Hinojosa: Our Little Planet

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 Vera Marie Badertscher said...

What a nice, specific list to use for the road trip in the west. Sorry I did not get your link into the Montana post earlier--I've been a bit scattered. But it is there now. Plus a chance to win a book!

6:34 PM  
Anonymous sarah henry said...

Kerry, I'm always amazed by the diverse voices you source for these road trip tunes.

2:01 AM  
Anonymous NoPotCooking said...

I'm about to start reading Michener's Alaska, so I will check out some of your suggestions to go with it!

11:21 AM  
Blogger Anjuli said...

good to be back-as usual- you do not disappoint!! I especially loved this post because of living in the North West.

6:02 PM  
Blogger kerry dexter said...

vera, sarah, and nopot, thanks for your comments.
anjuli, good to have you back.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous wandering educators said...

kerry - you're the GO TO resource for music. thanks for these great recommendations!

11:42 AM  

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