Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder

Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder


In case you don't know, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House on the Prairie books, and in their pages she referenced some 126 songs and folk tunes, hoping to give people the flavor of the times. She included folk songs, parlor songs, fiddle tunes, minstrel show songs, play party songs, Scottish and Irish songs and more in her books. She once said about her semi-autobiographical books: "There is one thing that will always remain the same to remind people of little Laura's days on the prairie, and that is Pa's fiddle." This album was first released in 2005, and was reissued in 2007 to compliment The Arkansas Traveler, the second CD in a project that intends to produce ten CDs documenting the songs Wilder included in her books. The album opens and closes with fiddle tunes by Jep Bisbee, recorded by Thomas Edison in 1923. Bisbee was around the same age as Pa Ingalls, and played in a traditional style. He contributes "The Girl I Left Behind Me" and "The Devil's Dream," one of the best known fiddle tunes of the time. The contemporary artists who contribute to the CD play in a traditional manner. Pat Enright's version of "The Girl I Left Behind Me" is the cowboy version of a song that originally came from Ireland called "Mountain Dew," and slightly more polished than Bisbee's. Riders in the Sky contribute "The Blue Juniata" a story sympathetic to the plight of the Native Americans forced to move away from their traditional lands by the white settlers claiming their land, and "Captain Jinks," a comic song full of quips that were probably hilarious back in 1868. The term "high jinks" owes its origin to this tune. Ranger Doug from Riders in the Sky takes a solo turn on the minstrel show tune "The Big Sunflower," a sentimental song about love that sounds a bit dated and "Uncle Sam's Farm" a hit for the Hutchinson Family Singers. The Hutchinson Family was a close harmony group that sang at anti-slavery, women's suffrage and Lincoln for President rallies. The song is a march, full of optimism celebrating the riches waiting people brave enough to head west and homestead. "Oh Susanna," probably Stephen Foster's greatest hit, gets an old-time string band treatment. Songwriter David Olney sings Foster's "Nelly Was a Lady," one of the first songs to treat an African-American relationship with the respect the white folks of the time reserved for themselves. Three lovely hymns are given beautiful readings: "Roll the Old Chariot Along" is done a cappella by the Princely Players, "On Jordan's Stormy Banks" is sung by members of the Walnut Grove Church with string band accompaniment and "Sweet by and By" is sung simply by Andrea Zonn. The 18 tracks here give us a good overview of the songs that became the foundation of the music we now call Americana, the tunes that people sang to entertain themselves before the advent of mass media.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/14/2006
Label: Pa's Fiddle
UPC: 0892037001675
catalogNumber: 3700167

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Butch Baldassari   Banjo,Mandolin
David Olney   Vocals
Ranger Doug Green   Guitar,Vocals
Pat Enright   Guitar,Vocals
Byron House   Bass
Joey Miskulin   Accordion,Vocals
John Mock   Guitar,Percussion,Concertina,Harmonium,Penny Whistle,Low Whistle
Jane Sherberg   Alto,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Jon Sherberg   Bass,Vocals
Robert Smith   Vocals
Andrea Zonn   Vocals
Jeff Lisenby   Accordion
Tim Reynolds   Vocals,Track Performer
Dave Olney   Guitar,Vocals
Too Slim   Bass,Vocals
Woody Paul   Fiddle,Vocals
Bob Simmons   Vocals,Track Performer
Joe Caverlee   Fiddle
Nita Smith   Alto,Vocals
Jasper Bisbee   Fiddle
Casey Driessen   Fiddle
James H. Brown   Bass
Calvin Settles   Tenor Saxophone,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Odessa Settles   Alto,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
John Balch   Banjo
Beulah Bisbee Schuler   Piano
Laurens Blankers   Vocals,Track Performer
Kerene Box   Vocals,Track Performer
David Carlton   Vocals,Track Performer
Marilyn Burchett   Vocals,Track Performer
Dale Cockrell   Vocals
David Cockrell   Vocals
Shirley Cody   Alto,Vocals
Peggy Stewart Duncan   Soprano,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Jacqueline Elston   Soprano,Vocals
Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp Singers   Track Performer
Beulah Bisbee-Schuler   Piano
Gloria Ransom   Vocals
Nita Smith   Vocals
James Brown   Vocals
Sandie Scott   Vocals
Bob Simmons   Vocals
Jasper Bisbee   Fiddle
Mark Powelson   Vocals
Dorothea McCowan   Vocals
Heidi Nolen   Vocals

Technical Credits

Butch Baldassari   Audio Production
John Mock   Engineer
Celeste Krenz   Graphic Design
Dale Cockrell   Liner Notes,Audio Production

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Playing Time – 51:42 -- Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) wrote a famous series of eight “Little House” books which trace her family’s history through the west from 1867 to 1885. The books, published between 1932-1943, have become classics in American children’s literature. Within her stories are references to 126 songs. There are songs from the parlor, stage, minstrel shows, church and school. Laura’s guiding musical spirit was her singing and fiddling father, Charles “Pa” Ingalls. On this musical tribute, we are treated to contemporary renderings of 18 of the 126 referenced songs. The set recognizes the esteemed place that music-making once held within the lives of ordinary American families and pioneers. In a sense, this concept album is a soundtrack for the books. Fans of the “Little House” books will especially thrill in being able to hear the music that was an integral part of pioneer life on the prairie. Dale Cockrell recruited well-known mandolinist Butch Baldassari to co-produce the project, and they were backed by a grant from Blair School of Music. Top Nashville musicians were enlisted. Participants include Riders in the Sky, Dave Olney, Andrea Zonn, Deborah Packard, Pat Enright, Doug Green, Keith Little, Jep Bisbee, John Mock, Butch Baldassari, Peggy Duncan Singers, Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp Singers, and The Princely Players. “Arkansas Traveler/Devil’s Dream” and “Happy Land” are played by Pa’s Fiddle Band (including various instrumentalists). The result is a set of contemporary renditions of American folk music, a melting pot of hymns, minstrel show songs, spirituals and fiddle tunes. A 16-page CD booklet provides background about the songs and lyrics, where applicable. One should imagine the days before radio and television when music-making was a family endeavor, and the activity was pursued for fun, entertainment and intellectual pursuit. For that same reason, families today will obtain plenty of enjoyment together with the rediscovery of such classics as “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” “Oh! Susanna,” “Highland Mary,” “Barbara Allen,” and others. New discoveries are also awaiting within the 52 minutes on this disc. Songs like Captain Jinks, Oft in the Stilly Night, The Big Sunflower, Uncle Sam’s Farm, and Promised Land deserve a much wider listen. The title cut, “Happy Land,” appears more often in Wilder’s books than any other hymn and came to epitomize family strength and opposition to unruly outside influences. Wilder’s eight children books inspired two television series – one that ran from 1974-1983, and the other which had a limited airing in 2005. With this CD in the schools, librarians and reading teachers can work hand-in-hand with music teachers to help kids discover a rich part of American’s musical heritage and legacy. (Joe Ross)