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Friday, May 12, 2006

Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams

I can't remember the last time I bought music by anyone born after 1850 . . .about the closest is Le Carneval Des Animaux by Camille Saint-Saens (b. 1835).

I have never purchased country music. Never.

But a week ago on the Prairie Home Companion I heard music that made it seem as if my ears were hearing for the first time. More than music, I heard originality. I heard live instruments, played by real hands, in touch with real creative minds. I heard enthusiasm. I heard a group of guys just having fun making music.

I wanted to stop my car to get out and dance in the road.

The group is Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams, a 'western swing' band from Fort Collins, Colo., that is "passionately committed to playing real country music" (from their website,

Within days I had ordered and received their first (and, to date, only) CD. When it arrived, I listened and was hooked.

The CD is a marvelous mix of pure country music, a few western-style waltzes, laced with a yodel here, a love song there, and such quality as few musicians outside the classical world possess.

My favorites?

I'm partial to "Billings Bop," an all instrumental piece where all that's missing is a barn full of cowboys and cowgirls dancing the evening away.

I also like "Let's Make Believe." This is a love song. In the back of my mind I pictured Karen and me out under the western moon, slow-waltzing in the star-shine with an audience of tumbleweed and coyotes.

For fun, there's "(My Other Car's An) Appaloosa." The song's the story of a city-bound cowboy who trades his weekday suit for the weekend life of a cowboy. The tongue-in-cheek lyrics speak to anyone confined to the city life, longing for the open spaces of the great west.

The whole CD is great.

The Hi-Beams website reveals one more subtle thing about them that makes their music even more significant. Their music is available through local, independent music stores and vendors. They are not a big-box operation.

Keeping it real in their music and in their business. What a deal.

I hope you'll check out Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams on their website, You'll be able to listen to "Appaloosa" there and link to purchasing information. You won't regret it.