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Review: Sons of the San Joaquin, A Cowboy’s Song

Sons of the San Joaquin
A Cowboy’s Song
[Western Jubilee (2011)]

It’s a good thing that westerners Sons of the San Joaquin were never career counselors, because if they had been, every eligible male would become a cowpoke. As expressed here, there’s no finer job in the land than of the old-time cowboy; cracking that whip and moving those little doggies along the dusty trail all the way from Texas to Montana.

Ah, the life!

Drinking black coffee from an old tin cup, the smell of sizzling bacon, the chirping whippoorwills, howling coyotes, yodeling the time away and sleeping under the stars and pale moon light. Life couldn’t be any finer. Don’t try to change him, sweetheart, because no matter how much you love him, this cowboy will never change, not even for love. At least that’s the majestic, rich imagery that the Sons evoke here while extolling the virtues of cowboy life.

In doing so, the Sons recreate the mystique of the Sons of the Pioneers, Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage, and overall the singing cowboy. The arrangements are loaded with hearty harmonies, gliding accordions, splendid guitar flatpicking, and orchestral swells just like those old cowboy records. The Sons’ prolific Jack Hannah, who has a knack for picturesque and occasional funny lines, wrote 10 of these 14 songs. On the epic homage to Jim Bridger (“Ol’ Jim Bridger”), the Sons sing, “He’s got a long beard and looks kind of weird,” in addition to imparting historical tidbits.

Fun stuff, as always, from the ambassadors of western folklore.

—Dan Willging, Denver, CO

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