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Local Focal: Cowboy Collector Jack Thorp

Jack Thorp
Jack Thorp

American Songcatcher proudly presents the fourth installment of the LOCAL FOCAL series, where we’re collaborating with artists around the country to share unique and lesser-known musical history. Our storyteller is cowboy & poet Andy Hedges, who hails from Lubbock, TX and is doing his part to keep the old cowboy song traditions alive. Andy takes us back to the late 1800’s, in the vast Western plains to the first collector of cowboy songs, a roving Easterner by the name of Jack Thorp, who printed the first book of Folk Songs, titled “Songs of the Cowboys” in 1908, forever changing the scope and trajectory of western and cowboy music.

In March 1889, Jack Thorp, a born-to-privilege Easterner who had grown into a leather-tough, saddle-wise trail hand, decided to track down the words to songs about cowboy life from cowboys singing in cow camps, at chuck wagons and line camps, in saloons—anywhere Thorp could find them, mostly in New Mexico and Texas. His course proved crucial to the evolution of cowboy culture and the publication of his Songs of the Cowboys, the first collection of folk songs in America in 1908.

Andy Hedges Website

Andy’s Podcast “Cowboy Crossroads”

Roll On, Cowboys

Jack Thorpe

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