Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Road Trip Music : Oregon

Oregon has a varied landscape -- high desert, mountain and forest, windswept coast, rugged redwoods. As the Great American Road Trip travels through this part of the Pacific northwest, for a soundtrack we will have the work of two contemporary composers from Oregon, artists whose work is just as distinctive as the changing landscape. One writes cowboy songs, and the other composes fiddle tunes grounded in her love of and work in the music of Scotland.

Joni Harms is a rancher and farmer, living on land her great grandfather worked. Her crops include cattle and Christmas trees, and they also include songs, ones that are filled with stories of the people and land of the contemporary west. Harms has won many awards for her music, and part of her philosophy about it may be hinted at in the tile of her album Let's Put the Western Back in the Country,
which is a good choice for listening on this Oregon trip. If that mention of Christmas trees has got you thinking of the winter holidays, Harms also has a very nice album of western Christmas songs out, as well.

Hanneke Cassel grew up in Port Orford, on the Oregon coast, where at first she took up western swing style fiddling. Taking up her teacher’s challenge to try Scottish style music, Cassel won several national championships in it, and with them came the chance to study in Scotland. “I was hooked,” Cassel says. Now a respected player, composer, and teacher, Cassel’s own work is rooted in Scotland and brings in her own touches of American background as well. On this road trip through her native state, take a listen to For Reasons Unseen.

you may also wish to see

Hanneke Cassel and Christopher Lewis: Calm the Raging Sea
Music Road: road trip music: American west

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

UpTake Travel Gem

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Your first choice for Oregon could not be more perfect, since the book I talk about at A Traveler's Library is about a woman who is a farmer/rancher. Thanks for the beautiful post.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Big congratulations on being one of the five best music blogs on the Internet. Fingers crossed that you'll advance to number one after everyone votes in the 2011 Bloggies. Because you ARE the best!

11:45 AM  
Blogger Kerry Dexter said...

thnaks for the kind words, Vera. I've been traveling a bit myself and your comment was my first notice about the bloggies...

11:27 AM  
Blogger Kerry Dexter said...

thanks for the kind words about the post, as well. I had the good fortune to interview Joni Harms a few years back, and learned a good bit about ranching life in Oregon during our conversation.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous skOt said...

This is my first time reading your blog. I very much enjoyed your OR music post. There's a great deal of fantastic music and artists in Oregon. I work in the Celtic music community and I'm amazed at the talent. Keep up the good work!

12:35 PM  

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