It Sings in the Hi-Line
Kerry Grombacher writes songs that are set in the landscape he's traveled, from his home on New Orleans' Bayou St. John (yes, his house flooded) to the Hi-Line of Montana and from the desert Southwest to the forests of the Northwest. He's performed at cowboy poetry gatherings across the west, at the Newport Folk Festival and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and on the parking lot of the Sands Motel on Route 66 in Grants NM ( where the owner named a room after him). He's worked in the desert as an archaelogist (no whip), fought forest fires in Oregon, herded cows on ranches in New Mexico and California, done time as a bureaucrat in Texas government, and led workshops on creativity and songwriting in high schools all over the place. Here are some notes on the songs on 'It Sings in the Hi-Line.' 1. It Sings in the Hi-Line -- the Hi-Line is Northern Montana where US Hwy 2 and the Burlington Northern RR parallel the Canadian border, and it's where Chief Joseph surrendered to the US Cavalry; 2. Never Come Again -- a chance encounter with an old cowboy at a truck stop; 3. Almas Perdidas (Lost Souls) -- memorializes the 2002 discovery of the bodies of 11 Mexican migrant workers in a freight car in Iowa; 4. Wild West Mambo -- Buffalo Bill brought the Wild West Show to New Orleans in 1884 and Plains Indians met Mardi Gras Indians; 5. Moonrise, Hernandez NM -- inspired by Ansel Adams' 1941 photo; 6. Blue Pony (Dream of Leaving Havre) -- a young woman longs to leave the Hi-Line town of Havre (pronounced hav-ur), where the high school mascot is the Blue Pony; 7. Crosses on the Side of the Road -- I've been photographing roadside crosses and altars for several years; 8. Bison Wind -- a down-on-his-luck cowboy heads south for the winter; 9. Valley of Shadows -- the Spanish Inquisition, active in the New World in the 18th Century, causes Jews to flee Monterrey, Mexico; 10. Cajun Cowboy -- Louisiana cowboy (there are lots of them) finds work in Wyoming; 11. Rock Springs -- Wyoming residents laugh and tell me that every word rings true; 12. The Edge of the World -- written after a day of working horseback on a ranch on the Acoma Pueblo, west of Albuquerque.