Historic radio series chronicles Nevada folklife
Nearly 30 years ago, the Nevada Arts Council and its partners created a radio series that would chronicle Nevada folk heritage. The show included experts in local arts that include bit and spur making, the language of gaming, neon glass blowing, cradle-boarding, and more. In celebration of the state’s 150th birthday, the full 13-episode series “Home Means Nevada 1986: Folklife in the Silver State” has been digitized. Several episodes are now posted to the Nevada Arts Council website. The site will be updated regularly through Nevada Day when all 13 segments will be available.
“The radio shows were recorded on location in 1986 by folklorist Blanton Owen,” said Susan Boskoff, executive director of the Arts Council. It was originally produced by the NAC Folk Arts Program in partnership with KUNR, KNPR, and KOLO-TV with funding from the State of Nevada and National Endowment for the Arts, which also funded the digitization project. Images are included from Nevada Folklife Archives, the Nevada Historical Society, and the Western Folklife Center.
Now playing at nac.nevadaculture.org:
Bernardo Yanci, Basque Music. Elko resident Yanci moved from the Basque Country of Spain in the 1950s. He talks about and plays Basque music on the accordion.
Martha Dick, Shoshone Cradleboards. Dick and her son Richard, from the Duck Valley Reservation, explain the complex processes required to make traditional Shoshone baby baskets or cradleboards.
Tom Martinet, The Language of Gaming. Martinet, a box man at the Horseshoe in Las Vegas, describes the language and customs of the craps table.
Randy Stowell, Rawhide Braiding. A buckaroo, Stowell, who ranched in Currie and Rowlan, recounts the processes of working with rawhide to create ropes and horse tack.
Programs to be posted before Nevada Day will include:
Larry Schutte, Cowboy Songs. Schutte and his family run a ranch hear Tuscarora. He recites cowboy poetry, makes horsehair and rawhide gear, and – in this show—talks about cowboy songs and sings “Nighttime in Nevada.”
Jack Darland, Old-Time Fiddling. Darland of Babbitt tells about how he learned his music and what old-time style fiddle playing means to him. He and Linda Darland play “Little Green Valley,” “Black Velvet Waltz,” and “Cowboy’s Waltz.”
Ernie Fanning, Cowboy Poetry. Fanning of Sparks explains how poems come to him in flashes of inspiration and how he feels poetry should be performed. He recites his poems “Alone” and “The Vanishing Valley.”
Mark Dahl, Bit and Spur Making. Dahl from Deeth makes silver-mounted bits and spurs. He discusses the decorative elements of his art and the practical side of making gear for working cowboys.
Stan Forrest, Neon Sign Glass Blower. Forrest began bending glass for neon signs in the 1940s. He talks about the details of his craft and why it pleases him.
Katie Frazier, Paiute Songs. At the time of the recording Frazier of Nixon was 94 years old. She performs and discusses “The Bear Dance,” “Rabbit Dance,” and a hand-game song.
John Weinkauf, Boot Making. Weinkauf’s Desert Leather boot shop in Washoe Valley was filled with custom-made western slop-on and lace-up boots. He describes some of the more difficult aspects of his craft.
Jack Darland, Prospecting. Darland learned prospecting from his father and grandfather, went to school to learn more, and made his living in Babbitt selling claims to large mining operations.
Waddie Mitchell, Cowboy Poetry. A young Mitchell talks about poetry and buckaroos, and discusses the traditions surrounding them both. He recites two of his poems, “The Book” and “Gone Fishing.”