CD Review: Allen & Jill Kirkham – Sunrise On The Prairie


Sunrise On The Prairie

Sunrise On The Prairie – Whoopie Ti Yi Yo – God’s
Country Waltz – I Ride Old Paint – Muckin’ Out Stalls – Red River
Valley – Love Burst – Home on The Range – Buffalo Gals – Spanish Is The
Loving Tongue – Uncle Bob – All The Pretty Little Horses

Anyone who likes ‘cowboy’ music, or perhaps ‘western’ music,
it’s always a pleasure to hear someone who does it well, doing it like
it might have sounded around a campfire.  That’s the listening
experience of this lovely married couple who have taken ‘western’ music
into their hearts and minds, and put it on the stage, on the record
player, on the minds of all who listen, and at a campfire.  I want to
point out early on here that Allen Kirkham has spent 34 years in
military service to America.  Partly Air Force and partly Army.  His
wife Jill is a professional artist and retired school teacher.  Between
the two, there has to be many many experiences that would surely make a
good ‘cowboy’ song.  They both have excellent musical instrument
abilities on this CD, Allen on guitar and mandolin, Jill on lead guitar,
bass, and harmonica.  I especially enjoyed the addition of Joe
Stephenson’s fiddle on the opening song “Sunshine On The Prairie,” one
of Allen’s originals.  Jimmy Lee Robbins on guitar and Lee Patterson on
accordion for this great original song too.  Most excellent.  Also the
addition of Juan Eduardo DeHoyos on lead guitar, and Katie
Lautenschlager on fiddle on some of the other songs.  I got ‘hooked’ on
western music and western swing a long time ago.  I use my association
with the Smithsonian Institution to research old music, and it helps a
lot, especially on songs like “Red River Valley” which Allen has a super
lead vocal version.  Lots of folks think that ‘Red River’ is somewhere
in southwest America, but it’s not, it’s the river that flows between
the Dakotas and Minnesota, written by someone from South Dakota.  The
first record of it being performed is from a dated newspaper article
relating to a singer who sang that song in an old bar along the
Nebraska-South Dakota border.  So it actually has a lot of ‘connect’ to
the upper Midwest.  This whole album by the Kirkhams is a joy to listen
to, especially “Red River Valley” with a nice old-timey harmonica in it,
and a great fiddle.  I also like “Buffalo Gals” which is definitely
known as a ‘cowboy’ song today, but it wasn’t in the beginning. 
“Buffalo” in Buffalo Gals is the name of the town in New York where this
song came from.  When is was sang way back then, they also added other
towns to the song, like Albany and Elmira.  Today it’s exactly where it
needs to be.  Sung around the camp-fire, just like it used to be. 
Marshmallows and hot dogs on the sticks getting cooked. That’s the image
I get when I hear these two dear people singing their ‘cowboy’ songs. 
Off to the Rural Roots Music Commission goes to see what they think.  I
have a pretty good idea, most of them have youngun’s that like hot dogs
and marshmallows. RECORD REVIEW BY: Bob Everhart, President, National Traditional Country Music Association for Country Music News International

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