Wednesday, March 28, 2012
It is a memorable experience when a song really connects with the audience. Two families who attended my performance at the Glendale Folk & Heritage Festival had a special connection to my songs. Joyce Sackett is the great-niece of William Porter Jones, the subject of "A Miner's Letter Home". "Uncle Will" left his parent's home in Missouri in 1858 at the age of 21 to search for gold out west. William Jones spent the next six years prospecting and corresponding with his family and friends back home. My song traces his experiences in the gold fields of Colorado, California, Nevada, and Arizona. He was among the first group of prospectors to stake a claim along Lynx Creek in the winter of 1863. His adventurous life was cut short in June, 1864 when he was ambushed by Apache braves while travelling along Big Bug Creek.
Three sisters of Onofre "Taffy" Tafoya attended to hear my newest song, "Los Mineros", which is based on Taffy's successful 40-year career working in the San Manuel Mine. Mr. Tafoya wrote two books about his experiences in the mine: "Los Mineros" and "Mother Magma". Mr. Tafoya is proud of all that he accomplished during his working years. His books recognize the contributions made by all of his co-workers toward the safe and productive record in the San Manuel Mine.
Thanks to everyone for making this such a memorable experience for me.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The City of Glendale is holding its annual Folk & Heritage Festival this weekend (March 24-25) at Sahuaro Ranch Park. It is a free event full of original and traditional folk songs and workshops.
I am scheduled to lead a workshop in historic and mining songs on Saturday from 4:00 to 5:00 at "Gilligan's Island". I will perform my original songs about Arizona history and mining on Sunday from 1:30 to 2:00 on the Library Patio.
9802 N. 59th Ave.
Glendale Arizona 85302
Phone: (623) 930-4200
Here is link to the Sahuaro Ranch website:
Here is a link to the schedule:
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Here are some photos from my performance at the Apache Leap Mining Festival in Superior on March 10. The festival included mining skills demonstrations and entertainment from local performers celebrating Arizona's rich heritage. I was pleased to perform my new song, "Los Mineros", in honor of my special guest, Taffy Tafoya and his family. The song is inspired by two books written by Mr. Tafoya, "Mother Magma" and "Los Mineros", which describe his successful 38-year career in the San Manuel Mine. The lyrics of "Los Mineros" pay tribute to the important role of Mexican miners throughout Arizona history: "My name is Onofre Tafoya. I worked forty years underground. Like many who have come before me, Los Mineros will always be found."
Taffy and his wife Allison were joined by family and friends to hear the debut of "Los Mineros".
Thursday, March 8, 2012
The Town of Superior is hosting the 24th Annual Apache Leap Mining Festival this weekend - March 10 and 11. Miners will demonstrate traditional skills (drilling, mucking, spiking, and sawing) and compete for cash prizes. There will be a variety of entertainment throughout the weekend. I will perform my mining and history songs on Saturday from 5-6. I can't think of a better venue for celebrating Arizona's rich mining heritage.
Monday, March 5, 2012
John Townsend is the subject of one of my songs, and continues to be the focus of my historical research. Please refer to my prior blog posts for background information about John Townsend. I have learned some important information over the past two years about one of Arizona's more interesting Pioneers. I have collected and read material housed in the archives of Arizona libraries and museums, online historic newspaper articles, secondary sources (journals, local and regional histories), and historic maps. Among other things, I have determined the location of the Townsend Ranch. Historic newspaper articles and letters refer to ranches, assuming that their location was common knowledge (i.e. Woolsey Ranch, Boggs Ranch, Townsend Ranch). As stated in the lyrics of my song, the Townsend Ranch was 40 miles from Fort Whipple, along the Agua Fria River. This was a dangerous place to live between 1865-1880. Pioneers in this area were isolated from the protection of Fort Whipple, while occupying a traditional travel route and rest area used by the Apache Tribe.
Here is an excerpt of a historic land survey map issued in 1874:
It is fortunate that the surveyor listed the owner/tenant for each ranch included in the survey. The Boggs brothers, Theodore and John, will be the subject of future blog posts.