Charlie Seeman

Bio:

Charlie Seemann is the Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada. He holds an M.A. in Folklife Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles and has served extensively as a folklorist across the United States, including at the Country Music Foundation, the American Folklife Center, and the National Council for the Traditional Arts. He is the co-editor of the book Folklife and Museums: Selected Readings and has produced and/or annotated more than 30 documentary albums of folk, country, and cowboy music. In 1983, he received a Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum and a Grammy Nomination for the New World Records anthology Back in the Saddle Again: American Cowboy Songs. In 2003 he received a second Wrangler award for producing Buck Ramsey: Hittin’ the Trail. He has written numerous articles on western culture and cowboy music.

Photo credit: Kevin Martini Fuller

Presentations:

Back in The Saddle Again: The Songs and Music of the Ranching West

Out Where the West Begins: the Poetry of the American Cowboy


BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN: THE SONGS AND MUSIC OF THE RANCHING WEST

Cowboy music is instantly recognizable and hauntingly evocative of the American West. But how did this uniquely American form come to be, and what has allowed it to adapt and thrive even in the 21st century. Cowboy culture scholar Charlie Seeman – Director of the Western Folklife Center in Elko, NV – dedicates this presentation to exploring these questions. Drawing on many musical examples, and using a wide range of pictorial images, he finds the genre’s original roots in the music of the British Isles, then later in genres of Mexico and the American South. He shows how and why cowboy songs - first sung a cappella, then later with instrumental accompaniment - rose in popularity during the post Civil War droving days. He examines the content of the songs and how it was shaped by the largely oral transmission, as well as the impact and influence of early song catchers like N. Howard “Jack” Thorpe and John Lomax and their printed collections. He also looks at how the genre changed with the rise of “singing cowboy” and western movies of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, then the development of Western Swing and singing groups like the Sons of the Pioneers, and finally reviews the constantly evolving western music scene of the present day.

Appropriate Audience:  Adults

Duration: C. 1 hour

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Means for playback of digital audio visual presentation

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Nevada, Performing Arts


OUT WHERE THE WEST BEGINS: THE POETRY OF THE AMERICAN COWBOY

Join Charlie Seeman – cowboy culture scholar and Director of the Western Folklife Center– to explore the origins and history of cowboy poetry, a form of occupational poetry not unlike that practiced by sailors, loggers, and fisherman. In a presentation illustrated by evocative images and punctuated by recordings of recited poetry, Seeman traces the roots of the genre to the ballad and broadside traditions of the British Isles and shows how models for this kind of metered, rhymed verse can be found in the works of such illustrious men of letters as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert W. Service. He also examines the development of cowboy poetry during the trail drive days after the Civil War, through what is felt to be its “Golden Age” around the turn of the last century, on to its renaissance in the 1980s, and finally shows how the form remains vital and relevant in the present day.

Appropriate Audience:  Adults

Duration: C. 1 hour

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Means for playback of digital audio visual presentation

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Nevada, Literature, Performing Arts