Archive for March, 2014

March Announcement for the Utah Westerners



We are in for a real treat this month as we change direction a bit by not having a speaker and by just asking you to come, relax, and have fun as you listen to the harmonious sounds of a superb regional band, The Red Desert Ramblers. The band plays Bluegrass, Classic Country, Celtic, and Swing music with a style all their own. The Ramblers, whose members hail from Salt Lake and Summit Counties, have achieved national recognition and have participated in numerous regional and national festivals including the International Bluegrass Music Association FanFest in Nashville, Pickin’ in the Pines (Arizona), Memorial Day Bluegrass Festival (Grand Junction, CO), Bluegrass in the Barn (Nampa, ID) Red Rocks Bluegrass Festival (St. George, UT), Windwalker Ranch Bluegrass Festival (Spring City, UT), and more.

The Red Desert Ramblers have been honored by the International Bluegrass Music Association by being the first Utah band to ever be hired for an IBMA performance and were the only bluegrass band featured at the Mountain West Conference of the Arts. Members have won several awards including band leader, Sharon Mitchell, as best Utah hammered dulcimer player and Rick Martinez as best banjo player for the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association (IAMA). The Salt Lake Tribune says, “When it comes to locally produced bluegrass bands, it’s hard to do better.”

Sharon Mitchell (hammered dulcimer, harmony vocals) is the band leader/manager and has played the dulcimer since 1989. She is the first hammered dulcimer player ever to be hired for an IBMA performance. Sharon also plays with the Public Domain String Band and The American Irish Duo. In addition, she runs the IAMA Local Concert Series. She’s considered the “roots and branches” of the Red Desert Ramblers.

Steve Hewson (lead vocals, guitar, and mandolin) is best known as the host of the Rockport Dam Jam and is the former manager of Rockport State Park. After “going electric” with the country band “Desert Skies,” Steve returns to his first love of acoustic music with the RDR. He also plays with Detour Utah.

Rick Martinez (5-string banjo) has a style of 30 years steeped in traditional and progressive bluegrass music. His clean, precise, and dynamic playing reinforces the authentic sound of the band. Rick has played with the Rick Martinez Band, Holdin’ Out, and the Prairie Dogs.

David Bates (upright bass) has been a mainstay in the SLC/Summit County communities for many years. He has been or is a pilot, bus driver, and farmer. He helps mentor teenagers and youths as they seek to become proficient musicians. Dave also plays with the Silver Creek String Band.

Richard Schmeling (lead/harmony vocals, mandolin) adds to his impressive vocals with impressive guitar and piano playing. His ballads are amazing and no one can belt out traditional heart-wrenching songs like Richard. He also performs with the band, Bluegrass Rising.

March 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

February Announcement for the Utah Westerners




The so-called Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico to southern California (1829-1848) was first a slave capturing trail into central Utah utilized by Ute Indians and New Mexico traders to carry Southern Paiute women and children to its southeastern terminus as slaves. When the first Anglo-American explorer in the Sevier Valley, Jedediah Smith, arrived in 1826, he noted a line of Paiute smoke signals warning of his approach extending from later Salina through Clear Creek Canyon and on toward later Beaver, demonstrating great apprehension regarding  strangers. By the time fellow mountain man, Elijah Barney Ward, settled near Salina in 1848 and Mormon explorers commenced reconnoitering that region, there were no Paiutes noted residing anywhere nearby.

The formerly besieged Native Americans had clearly relocated to safer areas. Almost twenty years later, during the Black Hawk War between the Latter-day Saint militiamen, mainly of Sanpete and Sevier Counties and the Northern Utes of central Utah, the Southern Paiutes of the same region remained neutral, certainly distrusting their former oppressors in the slave trade far too much to assist them. However, the Mormons did not differentiate between hostile and neutral Native Americans and on two tragic occasions, a large number of Paiutes were mistakenly killed. Possibly up to fifty people died in two massacres, which constituted nearly two thirds of the total lives lost in the war on all sides. Thus the horrible fact was that neutral persons suffered much more than the belligerents and their families.

Most of the fighting in this largest of all Utah Indian wars ended in 1868-69, except for a few Utes residing between Fish Lake and Red Lake (later Wayne County). In 1872, they informed Latter-day Saints they were willing to also talk peace. Thereafter up to 150 Ute and Paiutes cooperated with Mormon interpreter-agents in establishing individual farms in Grass Valley in Sevier County, founding an Indian reservation without any input or assistance from the federal government.

Edward Leo Lyman, a native of Delta, Utah, received degrees in U. S. History from BYU the University of Utah. While studying for a PhD. in U. S. History at UC Riverside, he also taught and coached in high school locally. For some twenty years he spent most vacations at the LDS Church Historical Department, partly being mentored by Leonard J. Arrington. During and after completing his doctorate, he commenced writing western American and LDS history, which he has continued for over forty years, producing many articles and books. He recently won awards for a biography of his great-great grandfather, Amasa Mason Lyman: Mormon Apostle and Apostate, A Study in Dedication; an edited work, Candid Insights of a Mormon Apostle: The Diaries of Abraham H. Cannon, 1889-1895; and a journal article, “Chief Kanosh: Champion of Peace and Forbearance.” He is presently awaiting publication of his history of Utah’s seven attempts at statehood, 1848-1896, and is currently writing a history of the Southern Paiute tribe of Native Americans. He and his wife, Brenda, reside in Silver Reef, Utah. Lyman is presently an adjunct history professor at Dixie State University.

March 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

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