From the Rapid City Journal (06/08/2007)
Album celebrates rich heritage of town
When Hank Harris released “A Deadwood Songbook” last year, he quickly realized that he couldn’t do justice to Deadwood’s musical history with only one CD.
So on June 14, the Black Hills musician will release “A Deadwood Songbook II,” his second CD featuring early Deadwood music.
The first “A Deadwood Songbook” came at the urging of Adams Museum & director Mary Kopko, who encouraged Harris to research and then record the music of Deadwood from the years 1775 to 1910. The result was a CD filled with such traditional music as “On Top of Old Smokey” and “Greensleeves”.
Even during that first project, Harris recognized how rich Deadwood’s musical history was and how difficult it would be to narrow the musical selections to fit on just one CD. He also wanted to ensure that the musical influences of the various ethnic groups living in early Deadwood were recognized.
“A Deadwood Songbook II” is filled with that music.
Harris invited a slew of musicians to join him on the new CD. Minneapolis pipa player Gao Hong offered a Chinese song dating back to 1632. Oglala Lakota College professor Wilmer Mesteth performs an American Indian buffalo hunt song.
Black Hills musicians Kenny Putnam, Ricky Jacobsen and a group led by Sioux Falls Spooncat musician Jeremy Gegg also perform on the CD.
“A Deadwood Songbook II” includes a Jewish Klezmer song, a Romanian Hora song, an Italian melody, Irish songs, as well as Scandinavian influenced music.
All of those cultures were prevalent during the early days of Deadwood, Harris says, “It was the true little New York melting pot out here on the prairie,” Harris said.
“A Deadwood Songbook II” is, like its predecessor, funded by the South Dakota Arts Council