Walla Walla and Prosser, Washington

I’ve recently returned from a mini book tour to south eastern Washington. Along the way I gave two Music in the Westward Expansion presentations and took in some of the rich history and natural beauty of the area. The first program was an after hours program at the Fort Walla Walla Museum, located at the edge of town. The second program took place in Prosser at the Prosser Historical Museum.

Joe, my partner in life and roadie, drove (about 600 miles total) the tour vehicle (his Subaru Forester), and helped me haul my very heavy digital piano, guitar, music stand, Northern Cheyenne courtship flute, and other miscellaneous music paraphernalia in and out of the venues. Joe, who is also a master birder, managed to enjoy two exciting mornings of birding at Fort Walla Walla and at the Whitman Mission. For his eastern WA report, visit Short and Tweet Bird Reports.

Joe- birding in a natural area adjacent to the Fort Walla Walla Museum

In between events we enjoyed the vibrant downtown scene in Walla Walla where we strolled along picturesque sidewalks by welcoming shops and restaurants and ate some delicious meals. The Walla Walla Valley is known for its wine industry and the area around Walla Walla is surrounded by gently rolling hills lush with grape vines, and home to some 120 wineries.

At Fort Walla Walla, my presentation was in the main lobby which houses a historical covered wagon, a beautiful stage coach (pictured below), and display cases full of relics from the mid 1800s which made for a perfect setting for Music in the Westward Expansion. My program was part of a series called “After Hours” where authors and historians present programs on their field of expertise. The presentation was recorded and will eventually be added to the Fort Walla Walla website in the past programs link. Thank you to Ella Meyers and the Fort Walla Walla Museum for hosting this event.

Music in the Westward Expansion program at Fort Walla Walla

The day after the Fort Walla Walla event, we spent anafternoon at the Whitman Mission where missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman established a mission near the Cayuse Nation at Waiilatpo on the Columbia Plateau in 1836. At the mission, we walked the grounds, marveled in the open space, and learned more about the complicated and difficult story of the Whitmans and the Cayuse people which is an important and pivotal story within the story of the American Westward Expansion.

Wagon at Waiilatpu, the Whitman Mission Historical Site, located west of Walla Walla.

In Prosser, the county seat of Benton County, located along the Yakima River, I played on an 1860s Chickering square grand piano. The piano was originally shipped from the East Coast around Cape Horn to Astoria where is was then shipped up the Columbia River and hauled overland to Prosser! Playing the piano in the parlor setting truly felt like stepping back in time. Thank you to Alys Means and the Prosser Historical Museum for hosting this event.

1860s Chickering Square Grand at the Prosser Historical Museum

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Rancho la Puerta

I’m home after another rejuvenating week at the beautiful health resort, Rancho la Puerta, located at the edge of of Tecate, Mexico where the motto is Siempre Mejor- always better. Last week included lap swimming, hiking, practicing yoga, eating delicious food, admiring gardens, creating art, meeting new friends, connecting with old friends, taking a writing workshop, encountering wild life, strolling along brick pathways, spending time with Joe, leading a singing class, and performing a piano concert- “Music and Stories from Westward Expansion.”

While I was away, my new book was officially published- Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier. The book is available at McFarland , Amazon, or from your favorite book seller. And now on to my next adventure – book launching!

Music Is Radar for the Soul

“It’s like a song or an album is made and it’s almost like it has a radar to find the person when they need it the most.” -Jon Batiste acceptance speech at the 2022 Grammy Awards Ceremony

Jon Batiste, singer, composer, dancer, musician, and humanitarian extraordinaire recently received 11 Grammy nominations and 5 Grammy awards at the 2022 Grammy Awards Ceremony. His positive outlook on life and his music lifts us up as in the song “Freedom.” “It’s All Right” soothes the soul. “Cry” provides an honest commentary on life’s struggles. 

 In his acceptance speech for the album of the year, We Are, he spoke of the healing quality of music and how the perfect song has a way of finding us – like radar- just when we need it most. Do you have a song that found you just when you needed it most? I know I have- many times over! 

Listen to Jon Batiste’s acceptance speech for album of the year here: 

Watch the video of “Freedom” here:

Watch his touching and surprising interview on CBS Sunday Morning here: 

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/jon-batiste-and-suleika-jaouad-sharing-life-beyond-cancer/

Listen to his insightful interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, complete with musical explanations of his astounding piano arrangements. 

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/01/1012189203/bandleader-jon-batiste