For the Weekend: From the Range to the Bayou

The Western Folklife Center offers a website well-worth visiting and revisting. Next weekend they host their 26th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering; while I’m looking forward to writing more about this event next week, I’d like to share something from one of the Center’s other programs, Deep West Video–whose mission is “to tell first-hand stories from the rural West that are rooted in the values of life on the land:”

Since 2000, the Western Folklife Center has been working with people from throughout the rural west to produce short videos and slide shows about their lives on the land. Using the tools of digital communication, these home-made productions are simple yet elegant; they are not glossy and commercial, but from the heart.

Deep West’s video site offers dozens of pieces that, when viewed together, weave a rich and varied narrative about life in the rural west. Here’s one of my favorites: Susan Church’s Kitchen on the Range. It’s a interesting look into life on a cattle ranch, phrased as a submission to a Martha Stewart Magazine kitchen-remodeling contest. Scroll down this page to view Kitchen on the Range. 

After spending some time with Deep West Videos, try Zydeco: Creole Music and Culture in Rural Louisiana, a documentary produced by Nicholas R. Spitzer during his tenure as Louisiana State Folklorist. Also, as with every weekend, check out American Routes, his weekly public radio show that celebrates American music in all its diversity. The show cultivates the idea of “american music” in its widest sense, featuring “jazz, gospel and soul, old-time country and rockabilly, Cajun and zydeco, Tejano and Latin, roots rock and pop, avant-garde and classical.”