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Read more about each song on my blog!

Trade Songs: American West

These songs are for trade. I will accept anything in trade for this record (as long as it’s not illegal, offensive, or gross). This includes stinky cheese, maple trees, airplane tickets, squeaky crickets, cassette tapes, fermented grapes, guitar strings, other things, notebooks, coat hooks, chess rooks, tapes of Garth Brooks, hand drawn maps, baseball caps, sheepskin chaps, freestyle raps, photographs, drive shafts, autographs, watercraft, hugs, bugs, tapes of Flatt & Scruggs, dollars & dimes, lemons or limes, bells, gongs or chimes, molybdenum mines, books about Celts, animal pelts, fresh patty melts, and anything else.

When I was fourteen years old I started volunteering with the National Park Service at Fort Laramie National Historic Site near my home in Wyoming. It's a quiet serene place now, but during the settlement of the American West it was a significant site and often a busy place. When I was old enough I became a seasonal park ranger and led tours, developed programs, and talked to visitors about the place. I developed my love for history there, and came to understand the complexity of history, and especially the history of the American West.

The national park ranger mentality has never left me. I still read history, I am still curious and learning about it, and I often present programs about historic subjects for libraries, schools, and even for the National Park Service. My experiences there have informed my music and my teaching over the years. Many of my songs incorporate historic themes because I'm inspired by the stories, and still trying to figure it all out.

Many of the programs and classes I have presented have been about music. In 2023 I presented a class for the University of Denver Enrichment Program on the history of Cowboy Music and that led directly to this record. I learned several songs specifically for that class and for summer programs with the National Park Service. It's something I have done many times, learn a bunch of folk songs for a program, and then move on to another program after I'm done.

I decided to change that with the cowboy songs programs. I love these old western songs and enjoyed playing them so much that I booked studio time with my friend Eric Wiggs at Vermillion Road Studios in Longmont, Colorado on December 9th, 2023 and recorded as many of them as I could. I decided that whatever I recorded that day would be the project, and that's what you hear on this record.

Years ago, Justin Hoffenberg and I recorded a record in his basement. It's still available on Bandcamp. We printed download cards, and would trade the record for whatever folks had. Some folks gave us money, but others traded really weird and cool stuff. Once in Canada someone gave us the skull of an otter (we didn't bring it back across the border, which is good because we did get searched). We got an LP of Dr. Banjo Steps Out, a Purple Rain cassette tape, and so many other things. It was fun, and I wanted to do that again.

So this album is for trade. You can name you price here, but if you want to trade something for a download just send me a message through this site and we can work it out. Hopefully, it's just the first in a series of Trade Songs records.

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