One Trail, Many Voices: Songs of the Oregon Trail. The version of the Oregon Trail journey that most of us learned as children presents hardy, American-born pioneers heading west for adventure. The truth is far different. This vast stream of emigrants was a hugely diverse group and for the most part was fleeing something – whether they were Easterners fleeing the financial panic of 1837, Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famines, blacks escaping slavery, or Germans and Italians fleeing civil war. Along their way, Native Americans seldom attacked – in fact, many emigrant groups would not have made it without their aid. Folksinger and storyteller Hank Cramer will share the traditional folksongs of these cultures and explore how migration via the Oregon Trail affected the travelers, their songs and the culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Hank Cramer is one of the best-loved folksingers in the Northwest. He is widely known for his booming bass voice, smooth picking on a vintage flat-top guitar and wry sense of humor. He has a repertoire of more than a thousand modern and traditional songs spanning the “folk music” genre. Cramer is more than a performer, however: He is a historian and educator who weaves music and history into presentations that bring to life the rich story of America’s westward movement and give his audiences insight into the “folk process” by which traditional songs evolve. Cramer holds a history degree from the University of Arizona. He has released several albums of music and earned accolades from Northwest Public Radio, Heartland Public Radio and Texas Public Radio.
Funded project of Humanities Washington. Humanities Washington is a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.