This collection is the first recorded presentation of Bridger's highly-acclaimed trilogy of historically-documented epic ballads interpreting real events in western American history from the days of the mountain man and the Fur Trade Era of the 1820s through the death of Lakota Holy Man, Black Elk, in 1950. Bridger has been performing A Ballad of the West around the globe for nearly four decades.
Inspired by John G. Neihardt's A Cycle of the West, Bridger's Ballad is a three-part story told in Homeric verse and song about the Mountain Men, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and the Lakota Sioux people. After debuting the one man shows of Seekers of the Fleece and Lakota at Austin's Creek Theater in 1973, he took the act on the road, eventually finding a home in the Trans-Missouri region at Yellowstone National Park and Cody, Wyoming, where he exclusively performed A Ballad of the West for nearly six years - as a one man show, and as a full theatrical performance with actors from around the States. The Trans-Missouri region was the perfect mythological background: it is the mystically fertile landscape of the creation mythology of the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Shoshone, Blackfeet, and Pawnee, as well as the mythology that created much of what we cherish today as a culture in the American West.
Part One: Seekers of the Fleece: Seekers of the Fleece presents the life story of premiere American mountain man Jim Bridger and the Fur Trade Era. Beginning with Bridger's historic ascension of the Missouri River with the Ashely-Henry Expedition in 1822, Seekers of the Fleece musically dramatizes the adventures of the initial interactions between Europeans and Native Americans as well as the beginning of the Emigration Era and the Indian Wars Era.
Part Two: Pahaska: Pahaska is the ballad of "Buffalo Bill." Beginning with William F. Cody's birth in 1846 during the Emigration Era, Pahaska (Cody's Lakota name meaning 'long hair') chronicles Buffalo Bill's adventurous boyhood on the Great Plains, his career as a Pony Express rider, buffalo hunter, scout, and showman, and his rise to global celebrity with the creation of the Wild West.
Part Three: Lakota: Lakota begins with the meeting of Nebraska epic poet, John Neihardt, and the Lakota Holy Man, Black Elk, in South Dakota in 1931. A 'telling of a telling of a telling,' Lakota musically and dramatically presents Black Elk's recollections to Neihardt of the Indian Wars Era (1860 - 1890), Red Cloud and the Fetterman Massacre, the Battle of Little Big Horn, the deaths of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, Lakota travels with Buffalo Bill's Wild West, and the Massacre at Wounded Knee.
Even though completed in a 24 track studio, quite a bit of the first of these epic ballads, Seekers of the Fleece, were recorded in a tipi in the Colorado Rockies in 1975 with Slim Pickens and Bridger's old Gonzo pals John and Jim Inmon, Bob Livingston, Gary P. Nunn and Donnie Dolan. Slim's love of the mountain men brought him to volunteer his talents to narrate Seekers of the Fleece and Bridger cherishes the flavor of his unique voice telling Jim Bridger's story. The epic trilogy A Ballad of the West is now available in CD format, book format, and downloadable in PDF format (soon to be available in DVD format in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound!).