rex_rideout_cowboys_alien_musician_fiddler_music_historianMaking his movie debut as the cowboy fiddler in last year’s Cowboys & Aliens, Rex Rideout is a 19th-century music historian who can often be found performing with Mark Gardner.

Best Musicians Working Today:
Brenn Hill has been telling of life in the West for many years now. His music continues to become more moving and real as well as just plain wonderful. His  CD, Equine, tells a very real story of working in the saddle.

Gary McMahan is well known for being the author of what some say is the greatest cowboy song ever, “The Ol’ Double Diamond.” Well, he isn’t finished yet. Check out his latest, Goin’ My Way? Listen for “Big Enough and the Cheyenne Mare.” Gary can spin a yarn sure enough.

Hot in Western Culture Now:
Quinn Jacobson, an artist in the first photographic processes: daguerreotypes, calotypes and wet plate collodion. Lucky for us he has moved his studio from Paris (I don’t mean Texas) to Denver, and is having a look a photography in the Old West.

Book I Loved:
The paperback edition of my pard Mark Lee Gardner’s To Hell on a Fast Horse came out last year. This book is very readable, and it is all real. There were parts I would read and think, “No, Mark had to make this up,” and then I would find his sources later in the book. For all you Bill and Garrett fans, and I know you’re out there, you need to read this book.

Best Book I Read This Year:
Around the World on a Bicycle, written by Thomas Stevens and published in 1887. It is his own account of riding a penny-farthing (highwheel) bike around the world from 1884 to 1886. His travels through the West inspired the song, “The Gol-Darned Wheel.”

On Empire of the Summer Moon:
What a story! S.C. Gwynne presents an unvarnished and real look at this story. It is not always pretty or pleasant, but Gwynne faithfully shows us a very major conflict in the settling of the West.

Rookie to Watch:
As a Western entertainer, Susie Knight is no rookie, but she has released her first CD, Western Wordsmith. Susie wrote every song and poem on this CD. You will find yourself grinning through the whole thing and maybe letting loose a guffaw or two.

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