Author Events beginning next week!

A quick note to remind everyone that I have a couple of author events coming up for my new book, Music in the Westward Expansion. I’d love to see you there! Both events will include narrative interspersed with live music played on the Northern Cheyenne Courtship flute, the piano, and the guitar!

Saturday, August 6, 2022, 7:00 -8:30 pm

Music Center of the Northwest
901 N 96th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Free Admission- no registration required

*Audience members at the Music Center are required to wear a mask.
*I will have a limited number of books on hand for sale for the Music Center event. If you’d like a book signed, I encourage you to purchase a copy ahead of time at your favorite book seller

Tuesday, August 9, 2022, 7:00 -8:00 pm

Third Place Books at Ravenna: 6504 20th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98115. Registration is required-click on the above link. Third Place Books is stocked with copies of the book for purchase.

The Girl I Left Behind Me!

Call of the Canyon

Call of the Canyon trail, near Sedona, Arizona

Joe and I recently traveled to Sedona, Arizona for a rejuvenating spring break filled with stunning desert hikes. West Fork Trail, a.k.a “The Call of the Canyon,” just a few miles north of Sedona, is a popular hike that meanders back and forth across a rippling creek and through a canyon maze of spectacular striated rock ledges, peaks, and walls. We also took in the Grand Canyon-the South Rim. I was delighted with the hiking trail that runs parallel to the canyon for several miles! The day was glorious, the canyon, well, grand!

I learned that among the many early Westerns filmed in Sedona, was a 1923 movie called The Call of the Canyon. In 1924, The Pullman Herald urged, “Better answer The Call of the Canyon and come along to the Western thrill-land. Where a son of toil teaches a daughter of jazz the a-b-c of living and loving.” Sign me up, I need to watch this old movie ASAP!  

Another movie, Rhythm on the Range, made in 1940, features the theme song, “The Call of the Canyon.” Here is Frank Sinatra’s recording: New York a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSR5U5R7Ci4

The Monday after I arrived home, McFarland Publishers emailed with my page proofs for Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier, which means that I am currently working on the final task- creating the index! Hurray! Seeing the pdf of the book as it will print, complete with the images and sheet music (10 lead sheets in the back), is thrilling! The book will be published very soon-within the next couple of months! You can pre-order your copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, McFarland, or wherever you buy books.

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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

Harvest Time

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recorded music, stories, and narrative from my forthcoming book: Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier.

Harvest. ca. 1869., artist unknown. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

William Van Orsdel, “Brother Van,” known as the best loved man in Montana. (ca. late 1800s)

Brother Van with friends and bear cub in Great Falls, Montana. Photo courtesy of the Brother Van Museum Archives. (ca. late 1800s)

“Harvest Time,” known as “Brother Van’s Song.” played by Laura Dean
Harvest Time 
The seed I have scattered in spring-time with weeping 
and watered with tears and with dews from on high;
Another may shout when the harvesters reaping 
shall gather my grain in the sweet by and by.

Over and over, yes-deeper and deeper 
my heart is pierced through with life's sorrowing cry,
but the tears of the sower and the songs of the reaper 
shall angle together in joy by and by. 

By and by, by and by 
by and by, by and by
But the tears of the sower and the songs fo the reaper shall
mingle together in joy by and by.

Then palms of victory, crowns of glory, 
palms of victory I shall wear. 

William Van Orsdel (1848-1919), known as Brother Van, was often referred to as “the best loved man in Montana.” Brother Van, an enthusiastic singer, often broke into song during his sermons. He was a 19th century Methodist minister and circuit rider – a preacher who rode from town to town conducting church services. He tirelessly preached the gospel to congregations both large and small – on a steamboat, in saloons, in churches, and on rustic homesteads throughout the state of Montana. As a young man, a riverboat captain asked why he was going to Montana, Brother Van replied, “To sing, to preach and to encourage people to be good.”

For more about Brother Van and how he once saved his life with music, you’ll have to read my forthcoming book! I just learned that my manuscript has moved into the paging or pagination phase-which means another step closer to the publication date-early 2022.

Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier at McFarland Publishers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ask about the book at your favorite book seller.

Honoring Chief Earl Old Person (1929-2021)

“Legend of the Plains” by Charles Wakefield Cadman, an early 20th century composer whose compositions were often inspired by Native American melodies. Played by Laura Dean.

Missoulian photo

Get up. Jump up. Try hard and don’t give up. – Chief Earl Old Person

Chief Earl Old Person died of cancer at the age of 92 on October 13th. Old Person was a national treasure who served as the chief of the Blackfeet Nation for more than 60 years. He was an expert of Blackfeet language and culture, an advocate for tribal land and water rights, an inspired political leader, and an international ambassador. In his lifetime he met every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. He also met Queen Elizabeth, the prime minister of Canada-Pierre Trudeau, and the shaw of Iran. In his later years, he created home recordings of traditional stories and songs for the benefit of future generations.

I grew up in Choteau, Montana, on the Eastern Rocky Mountain front, about 70 miles south of Browning, Montana-the headquarters of the Blackfeet Reservation-the last stop before Glacier Park. The Choteau Bulldogs and Browning Indians were in the same athletic conference. Throughout my elementary to high school years, I regularly traveled to Browning for swim meets and to watch basketball and football games.

Earl Old Person rarely missed a high school basketball game-Browning is legendary for champion basketball teams and enduring fans. For his last visit to the Browning high school gymnasium, his casket was placed in the middle of the basketball court where thousands of mourners came to honor his memory and to say their final goodbyes. The mourning period lasted for four days and included processions, dancing, songs, and stories celebrating the life of the beloved chief.

Earl Old Person singing the Badger Two Medicine Song

New York Times: “Earl Old Person, Chief of the Blackfeet Nation, Dies at 92”

For an unforgettable story of high school basketball on Montana’s southeastern reservations, read: Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn by Larry Colton

Whiskey Before Breakfast

“Whiskey Before Breakfast,” arranged for solo piano and performed by Laura Dean.

I’m in the sweet spot on the author’s continuum. The manuscript for my book, Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier, is with my publisher-McFarland. The images have been approved, the permissions have been gathered, the cover has been finalized, and the book is up for presale on various platforms including McFarland and Amazon. While working through the final stages of the editing process with McFarland, I have been learning traditional tunes, songs, and instrumental pieces that are mentioned in the text of my book.

One of the songs mentioned in the book, “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” is a popular Métis fiddle tune that captures the adventurous and optimistic spirit of the Old West. The old time tune may have Irish roots, but it was made famous in the 1950s by Métis fiddler, Andy De Jarlis. The Métis people, of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, are known for a vibrant fiddling culture dating back to the 1800s.

For a fiddle version of “Whiskey Before Breakfast” check out: https://www.vithefiddler.com/whiskey-before-breakfast-fiddle-tune-a-day-day-21/

The inspiration for the solo piano arrangement came from Mickey Abraham who created a flatpicking arrangement of the piece : https://www.flatpick.com/category_s/1996.htm

Please enjoy “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” and stay tuned for more music and stories in the weeks to follow!

Leading up to the release date, I’ll be creating posts featuring narrative and music from the book. Please sign up here for uplifting recordings and musical posts sent directly to your inbox!

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little  Christmas, Words and Music by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, Recorded at the Yellow House Studio 

Wishing you peace and love in the Holiday Season

XOXOX,

Laura

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on, our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

 

Yves Saint Laurent The Perfection of Style

Yves Saint Laurent The Perfection of Style is on exhibit at  Seattle Art Museum,now through January 8!

Spent the morning in awe and giddy delight as I took in this amazing exhibit at SAM.  Left inspired by the colors, the designs, the textures, the history, the process, the sparkles, the variety, the creative output, the elegance,  the life, the style,  and the genius of Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008).

 

 

Today’s recording:  Cordoba from the Spanish Suite Andalucia by Ernesto Lecuona

 

Swimming

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Yesterday, my fellow early morning  lap swimmers  and I had our end of the summer breakfast which marks the end of another summer season of outdoor swimming. We’ll head indoors for the fall and the winter.  I swim three days a week at 6:00 am, it’s a great energetic start to the day.

Swimming, like music, has been a constant companion ever since I can remember. I spent many happy summers swimming on the Choteau Swim Team.  (I’m first row on the right in the picture above, I think I’m about 8 or 9.)  In college, I was a lifeguard and swim instructor and after college, I  became a certified diver when I was working on cruise ships in the Caribbean.  That seems a lifetime ago! Now, I’m an early morning lap swimmer and swim mom.

My daughter, entering high school, just made the Roosevelt High School varsity swim team.  Way to go, Ruby!   She’s much faster than I ever was!  She’s also a water polo player, because these swimmers just can’t get enough time in the water.

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We should all find something we  love and keep doing it, like swimming, like music! Today’s post, an arrangement of REM’s Night Swimming.

Here’s the original, a gorgeous song by REM from Automatic for the people:

 

More swimming love! Here’s the ever inspirational, awesome  Michael Phelps in an Under Armour Commercial.

You Won’t Be The Same After Watching Michael Phelps’ New Under Armour Ad

 

The Swan, inspired by Florence Foster Jenkins

I recently saw the beautiful movie, Florence Foster Jenkins starring  Meryl Streep as Florence, Hugh Grant as her husband, and Simon Helberg as the brilliant pianist and gentle soul, Cosmé McMoon. This stylish movie, based on the real life FFJ,  celebrates music, complex relationships,  and the human spirit.  Despite  a sold out performance at Carnegie Hall, Florence is lacking in the musical ability.  However, her spirit,enthusiasm, courage, and love for music are contagious. I laughed and cried my way through the film.

There are many touching scenes with the pianist Cosmé and Florence including Cosmé performing an audition  for Florence with The Swan from Saint Saens.  The Swan, originally for cello and two pianos, is from Carnival of the Animals.  Here is an arrangement for piano I recorded this morning.

The Swan, Saint Saen played by Laura Dean Wav

The Swan, Saint Saen, played by Laura Dean   MP4

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Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944)

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Cosmé McMoon (1901-1980)