29 Jun

Lovely Minnesoty

I’ve taken some liberties with text and melody in the above performance! 

Come all ye noble emigrants that feel inclined to roam,
Into this western country, to seek a pleasant home,
Just take a pioneer’s advice, he’ll point you out the best,
Go to lovely Minnesoty, that Lily of the West.

In eighteen hundred and fifty four, I left my native shore,
My worthy friends and native home never to see them more,
Besides, my aged parents I left among the rest,
And sailed for Minnesoty, the Lily of the West.

When I viewed this pleasant country, it filled me with surprise,
To see those spreading prairies, and fields of grain likewise,
You call into a cabin, you are always a welcome guest,
That’s the fashion of Minnesoty, the Lily of the West.

I viewed those jolly farmers, a-toiling at their ploughs,
Likewise the pretty fair maid, a-milking of the cows,
I viewed those lovely house-wives with tempers of the best,
They’re the darlings of Minnesoty, the Lily of the West.

Our lands they yield spontaneously potatoes, corn, and grain,
The climate’s also healthy, with cooling showers of rain,
There is plenty of fish in every stream, and game in the forest,
We have pleasures in Minnesoty, the Lily of the West.

Our pleasant burgs and villages they decorate the soil,
The architect, mechanic most manfully doth toil,
We have churches here of every sect, and schooling of the best,
We’ve industry in Minnesoty, the Lily of the West.

We have a flowing commerce upon our inland seas,
Where lofty ships and steamboats do sail continually,
We have mariners here both stout and bold, and masters of the best,
We have all things in Minnesota, the Lily of the West.

O, Michigan is not the place, nor Illinois the same,
The soil and climate can’t compare in raising of the grain,
A land of milk and honey, and temperature of the best,
And they call it Minnesoty, the Lily of the West.
____________

Again this month we have one of the very few songs I’ve found that mentions my beloved home state. In this case, it’s a song of praise, advertising the wonders of pioneer-era Minnesota to prospective “emigrants.” Bessie M. Stanchfield collected a version of the song, titled “The Beauty of the West,” from Mrs. Elma Snyder McDowell of St. Cloud in 1936. Stanchfield went on to gather three other Minnesota-sourced versions and all four texts were published in her article “‘The Beauty of the West’ A Minnesota Ballad” in the September 1946 issue of Minnesota History. The Snyder McDowell version was the only one collected by Stanchfield that came complete with a melody.

The above melody comes from the singing of Ezra “Fuzzy” Barhight who was recorded by song collector Ellen Stekert at his home in Cohocton, New York in the 50s. The text is primarily one of the texts published by Stanchfield that she found in the Saint Peter Courier of June 26, 1857. It is quite different than the other three published by Stanchfield but similar to Barhight’s fragment. I mixed in some lines from Barhight and the other Stanchfield texts to create the version above.

In her Minnesota History article, Stanchfield wrote that “this song, and others collected later, made me realize the fallacy of the belief that there is no Minnesota folk music.”

23 Apr

Thank You!

Pine City Concert (Pine Center for the Arts concert at Northwest Company Fur Post, Pine City, MN)

We want to extend a huge thank you to the Minnesota Historical Society and the following organizations for partnering to present our music and stories in 12 different towns around the state  of Minnesota over the past 7 months: Graceville Public Library, Appleton Library, Milaca Public Library, Jackson Public Library, Mille Lacs Library, Cambridge Public Library, Plymouth Public Library, Brooklyn Park Public Library, Moorhead Library, Crookston Library, Pine Center for the Arts and the Aitken Public Library. Thank you to all the hardworking organizers and to everyone that came out to hear and see the show!

We had such wonderful audiences everywhere we went and we especially enjoyed hearing so many stories from audience members about how this music and history reminded them of their own family stories and special places around the state. We are commited to continuing to bring traditional music collected in the Upper Midwest back to the communities it came from!

We are building a photo album of pics from our MNHS travels here: http://www.evergreentrad.com/photo-gallery/