Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Passion for the Wabash River runs deep in Indiana. That reality has become obvious during Terre Haute’s 2013 Year of the River celebration and through the creation of “The Wabash: Volume II.”
That new album — released last week and available in Bridgeton at the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival on Friday through Oct. 20 — serves as Part 2 of a project featuring musical artists with Hoosier and Wabash Valley ties.
“The Wabash: Volume II” follows the popular album, “The Wabash,” which was released last December. A complement to the first collection, “Volume II” explores additional genres with a dozen musical acts performing new original and classic songs inspired by the Wabash — Indiana’s official state river.
Proceeds from sales of the new CD ($10 per copy), along that of its predecessor, will fund a riverside sculpture honoring the music of Paul Dresser, the Terre Haute-born composer of “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away,” Indiana’s state song.
Fittingly, the final track on “The Wabash: Volume II” is a touching rendition of Dresser’s song, sung live in Terre Haute in the summer of 2013 by his great-niece, Tedi Dreiser Godard, a theatrical performer now living in California.
Godard’s dramatic finale caps a diverse compilation of songs, ranging from classical, Western swing, folk, alternative rock, punk-country, adult-contemporary, a lullaby, and three virtuoso instrumental tracks involving solo guitar, a piano-cello duet and a twosome of guitar and bass. The origins of all 12 numbers trace to the Wabash. Eight were composed by local artists.
“‘The Wabash Volume II’ has offered Art Spaces another opportunity to feature some amazing musicians with roots in the Wabash Valley,” said Mary Kramer, executive director of Art Spaces Inc. — Wabash Valley Outdoor Sculpture Collection and one of the album’s executive producers.
“Many are professionals working in some of the major music hubs of the U.S.; others we are fortunate to have performing regionally. The variety of approaches, and the combination of old songs with new, again combine to pay well-deserved tribute to the Wabash River.
“All of us at Art Spaces,” Kramer said, “are grateful to the musicians for their generous contribution and are honored to present ‘The Wabash Volume II.’”
The 2013 Year of the River project has heightened interest in the Wabash. The effort, led by a trio of local arts organizations — Art Spaces, Arts Illiana and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Permanent Art Collections — spawned an adventurous season in the community, with river-related events and programs dominating calendars around Terre Haute.
The companion musical albums reflect the reconnection with the Wabash, the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi. Kramer, Don Arney, Ted Piechocinski and Mark Bennett served as executive producers. The songs were recorded and/or mixed by Arney, the album producer, in his Quantum Music Productions studio in southern Vigo County.
“What a pleasure to once again bring together musicians from the Wabash Valley and present tributes to the Wabash River with both original and traditional songs,” Arney said. “
It’s amazing to me that such remarkable talent, spanning so many genres, has roots or is residing in this area. I think everyone who has heard volume one of “The Wabash” will be just as enamored with volume two.”
The disc opens in moving fashion, with the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra performing “River Fanfare: On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away,” an original arrangement by Terre Haute’s David Watkins.
Classical gives way to Western, as John England and the Western Swingers deliver a lively, smile-inducing version of “Back Home Again (In Indiana),” which gained fame through its performance annually by Jim Nabors at the Indianapolis 500. Unlike Nabors’ rendition, England and the Western Swingers present the song’s rarely heard opening verse. England, a Terre Haute native, now performs with his band in Nashville, Tenn.
Another Vigo Countian transplanted in Nashville is singer-guitarist Tim Carroll, who penned the toe-tapping “Little Muddy” for “The Wabash: Volume II.”
Likewise, Rockville native Cari Ray now performs around Indianapolis and Brown County, and she contributed the stirring spiritual “Wade On In.”
Joining “River Fanfare” on the CD’s list of instrumentals is the lovely “Old River” by deft guitarist Kade Puckett, an entrancing serenade “Rainfall on the Wabash” by cellist Kimberly Burger and pianist Nicholas Spidel, and a cool, jazzy run-up of the 1920s classic, “Wabash Blues,” by guitarist Paul Sturm and bassist Jerome Cheatham.
Lyrical melodies — all original — are illuminated on the lush folk-rocker “There’s A River” by the Paul Bertsch Band, the edgy and captivating “Swimming” by Highland Reunion (a duo of former Terre Hauteans now in Nashville, Jon DaCosta and Jimmy Rinehart), the mellow “She Loves Me the Wabash Way” by Highway 63, and the gentle “River Lullaby,” sung by theatrical singer Samantha Hayes and written by keyboardist-songwriter Ted Bennett.
The songs follow the footsteps of Dresser, a famed 19th-century Tin Pan Alley composer whose boyhood memories of the river inspired him to write “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” in 1897, which became the official state song in 1913.
A century later, amid the Year of the River celebration, Art Spaces launched a fund drive to commemorate Dresser’s musical legacy by the placement of a sculpture in Terre Haute’s Fairbanks Park, where his childhood home now sits as a museum. The process of selecting a sculptor is under way, and completion of the project is planned for 2014.
Finding ‘Wabash: Volume II”
• “The Wabash: Volume II” CD will be available for purchase at three locations at the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival this Friday through Oct. 20 — the Carriage House, the Baldrich House and the Emporium, all just off Allen Street in downtown Bridgeton. Price is $10 per copy. It is also available for purchase:
• Online: Through cdbaby.com; inquiries or information through the album’s web page, wabashvalleyartspaces.com/thewabash2.html.
• In person: In Terre Haute at Arts Illiana (23 N. Sixth St.), Barnes & Noble at ISU (25 N. Fourth St.), Boo’s Crossroads Café and Corner Grind (679 Wabash Ave.), Baesler’s Market (2900 Poplar St.), Headstone Friends (1142 Poplar St.), Pro-Trade Tools & Supply (1209 E. Poplar St.). In Hutsonville, Ill., at Wabash Coffee House (101 N. Main St.); In Lafayette, Ind., at Tippecanoe Arts Federation (638 North St.).