WINNER OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF NEW MEXICO'S RALPH EMERSON TWITCHELL AWARD FOR "SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO THE FIELD OF HISTORY."
"BEST MUSICAL TOUR OF THE WEST OF 2009" -- TRUE WEST MAGAZINE
We don't know the exact date, but it was in the year 1908 that a local rancher and surveyor by the name of Jack Thorp walked into the cramped offices of the Estancia News in Estancia, New Mexico, and inquired of the printer about publishing a small book of "cowboy songs." During two decades preceding, Thorp had sought out cowboy ballads and poems from Texas to Utah and had written a few himself.
The finished volume, printed for 6 cents a copy, included twenty-three songs and constituted the first time a book devoted exclusively to cowboy songs had been published, and to Thorp goes the credit for being the first person to show serious interest in collecting and preserving these ballads penned by cowpunchers for their own entertainment, as well as to calm cattle on the range.
This beautiful book/CD tribute to Thorp and his ground-breaking work features an essay by historian and musician Mark L. Gardner, line illustrations by notable cowboy artist Ronald Kil, and the lyrics to sixteen songs and poems taken from the original 1908 edition and from the 1921 expanded second edition of Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys - plus one previously unpublished Thorp composition. The CD by Gardner & Rex Rideout, which reproduces all the songs and poems in the book, follows Thorp's recollections of how he heard and performed old-time cowboy music, a form that employed only one voice.
MARK GARDNER & REX RIDEOUT are the only performers today making a serious attempt to re-create the historic music of the old-time punchers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They approached this book/CD project with the Museum of New Mexico as musicologists, consulting Thorp manuscript materials in several different states and using only documented musical instruments of the period (all instruments dated prior to 1908, some as early as the 1880s) and appropriate playing styles.
PRAISE FOR JACK THORP'S SONGS OF THE COWBOYS:
"Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout have done a masterful job in what I believe to be an important and major contribution to the history of cowboy music and cowboy culture. As a lifelong fan and kindred spirit of Jack Thorp, I highly recommend Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys with its accompanying CD for all fans and scholars of cowboy music." - DON EDWARDS, Western singer and author of Saddle Songs: A Cowboy Songbag.
"This work is a major contribution to the history of cowboy music in the Old West. The highly informative text on Jack Thorp and the songs he collected plus the accompanying CD capture the true flavor of early cowboy music." - DAVID DARY, author of Cowboy Culture.
"Historian Mark Gardner demonstrates a deep knowledge of cowboy folk music, and his love of the old cowboy songs is apparent on every track that he and his collaborator Rex Rideout perform on the accompanying CD. The entire package is exquisite and delightful." - DURWOOD BALL, Editor, New Mexico Historical Review.
"Mark L. Gardner and Rex Rideout perform the songs with simple straightforwardness on the accompanying CD. The text is accompanied by fine line drawings and vintage photos of Thorp and others involved in the story. Of historical and musical interest to adults, the book may also pique the imaginations of children who'd enjoy studying the drawings while listening to the songs." - TAOS DAILY NEWS
"The book and accompanying 17-track CD are distinctly different from what is routinely classified 'cowboy.' This historical study peels away the stereotypical layers, revealing the authentic, turn-of-the-century American West....From Gardnerâ€™s enlightening introduction to the lyrics, from eight superbly done line drawings by Ronald Kil to the recordings, from Thorpâ€™s cowboy glossary to a suggested reading list and an attractive cover -â€“ the package is a bonafide treasure." - JERI DOBROWSKI, Cowboy Jam Session
"Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys is a tribute to the man who was cowboy music's first collector; a significant contribution to western music history; and an enlightening and entertaining experience for readers and listeners." -