April 2008

Idaho Songs of the Month

VOCAL SONG - Owyhee Miner's Lament (click to hear)

This song appeared in the Idaho Weekly Avalanche newspaper on January 29, 1876. The song was attributed to an individual named "Pay Rock", who tells of the trials and tribulations of investing in gold mine stock. Many Silver City mines are mentioned by name in the humorous lyrics. No melody was given, so John Larsen composed an air to fit the lyrics and performs it on this track, accompanying himself on guitar. He is backed up by Marv Quinton on bass and Gary Eller on plectrum banjo.


INSTRUMENTAL SONG - Idaho Two Step March (click to hear)


This instrumental song was written by Erma M. Heckman and appears in sheet music published in 1890 by Leng Brothers & Co. of Wayne, Michigan. Sheet music is in the archives of the Idaho State Historical Society. The song is typical of parlor music that appeared in sheet music form at the turn of the last century. It is not known whether the writer had any connection with Idaho. It is possible that the song simply was inspired by the wave of interest about the American west (including Idaho) at the time, as indicated by the numerous pieces of period sheet music (mostly whimsical) that referred to Idaho. The rendition given here by Sean Rogers (piano) and Gary Eller (plectrum banjo) is intended to represent how the song might have been sounded in a home parlor (or saloon!) using two of the most common instruments of the time. This rendition also appears on the CD/booklet High Tone Music of Idaho (2010).

Copyright 2010 by Slim Chance Music. This page was last revised on February 21, 2010.