The Heart List

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recorded music, stories, and narrative from my forthcoming book:

Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier.

Red Boots (a gift from artist, Julie Andrews of California).
“What Wondrous Love Is This,” American Folk Hymn from the early 1800s, played by Laura Dean.

Indigenous people, explorers, pioneers on the Oregon Trail, missionaries, miners, cowboys, preachers, teachers, and frontier settlers all left behind a rich musical history. Each group that traveled west brought heart to the experience as they wove their unique threads into the musical tapestry that was as diverse as the people and experiences of the nineteenth century American West. Below you will find the “Heart List” which highlights the many roles that music played as people established a new sense of place.

Indeed, the “Heart List” applies to our modern world. For a contemporary story that illustrates the healing power of music in the face of Alzheimer’s disease, I encourage you to watch the 60 Minutes episode that aired last week,”The Final Act,” which features musical legends Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

The Heart List: In the 19th Century American West, music provided…
• Celebration
• Comfort for people (and restless cattle)
• Community connection
• Creative outlet
• Diplomacy
• Diversion
• Entertainment
• Expression of cultural identity
• Expression of friendship
• Expression of joy
• Expression of love
• Expression of sorrow
• Historical records of events
• Memories of home
• Sense of place
• Solace
• Worship

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Whiskey Before Breakfast

“Whiskey Before Breakfast,” arranged for solo piano and performed by Laura Dean.

I’m in the sweet spot on the author’s continuum. The manuscript for my book, Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier, is with my publisher-McFarland. The images have been approved, the permissions have been gathered, the cover has been finalized, and the book is up for presale on various platforms including McFarland and Amazon. While working through the final stages of the editing process with McFarland, I have been learning traditional tunes, songs, and instrumental pieces that are mentioned in the text of my book.

One of the songs mentioned in the book, “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” is a popular Métis fiddle tune that captures the adventurous and optimistic spirit of the Old West. The old time tune may have Irish roots, but it was made famous in the 1950s by Métis fiddler, Andy De Jarlis. The Métis people, of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, are known for a vibrant fiddling culture dating back to the 1800s.

For a fiddle version of “Whiskey Before Breakfast” check out: https://www.vithefiddler.com/whiskey-before-breakfast-fiddle-tune-a-day-day-21/

The inspiration for the solo piano arrangement came from Mickey Abraham who created a flatpicking arrangement of the piece : https://www.flatpick.com/category_s/1996.htm

Please enjoy “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” and stay tuned for more music and stories in the weeks to follow!

Leading up to the release date, I’ll be creating posts featuring narrative and music from the book. Please sign up here for uplifting recordings and musical posts sent directly to your inbox!