Songs and tunes from the west, from cowboys, Native Americans, Hispanics, Mexicans, Cajuns and a little Appalachian. The Bayou Seco Trio: Ken Keppeler, Jeanie McLerie, and Mark Mueller, use fine musicianship to give you a tour of our homeland.
We have learned most of our music directly from other musicians, in their homes. Many have passed on. Here are some of their gifts to us.
Ken Keppeler: violin, diatonic accordions, banjo, harmonica, vocals
Jeanie McLerie: 5-string violins, guitar, vocals
Mark Mueller: violin, guitar, vocals, cardboard box
1 My True Love – 3:04
2 Out on the Plains – 3:49
3 Sonora Church 2-Step/La Capsula – 5:34;
4 Love on the Range – 3:26
5 Polka de Gascogne – 3:24
6 El Testimonio/Cuadrilla de Pecos – 3:15
7 Vals Emiliano/Polka Montaña – 4:04
8 Bal de Charlot – 2:54
9 Fierro/Redondo de Leyba – 4:37
10 Crook Brothers’ Sally Ann/14 Miles to Georgia – 3:42
11 Patty Moorhead/Fat Doctor – 3:59
12 La Ciudad de Jauja – 4:49
13 Second Time in San Xavier/Lonnie’s Polka – 4:57
14 Home on the Great Divide – 3:41
The great divide is a continuous ridge runnning south from western Canada, through the US Rockies and Mexican Sierra, on through Central and South America to land’s end. The waters east of the divide flow into the Atlantic, and those west work their way down to the Pacific. We live within a mile of the divide, in Silver City, New Mexico.
The Bayou Seco family started as an idea by Ken and Jeanie and first became a band in 1982 with Paul Rangell and Emily Abbink. The band has remained a vital force in the Southwest, befriending musicians old and young, and collecting and sharing tunes. In fact, most of Bayou Seco’s music is learned directly from other folks. Mark Mueller is the latest addition to the family, bringing from the Appalachians his love of music and the people.
1 My True Love – While living in Louisiana in the 70’s, we made numerous field recordings. This tune is from Hadley Fontenot, who recorded it with the Balfa Brothers.
2 Out on the Plains – Jack Thorpe was the first person to collect and publish cowboy songs. A cowboy himself, Thorpe started his collecting career while out in a cattle camp in southern NM in1889. His first book, Songs Of The Cowboys, was published in 1908, in Estancia, NM. Thorpe writes of this song (called ‘A Prairie Song’), “I heard this sung by a cow-girl at Cheyenne Round-up – a Miss Windsor.” Since Thorpe didn’t include melodies in his collection, Mark came up with this one.
3 Sonora Church 2 Step/La Capsula – We learned these tunes from Elliott Johnson, a Tohono O’odham from Cababi in southern Arizona. It was a great pleasure to spend time with Elliott in his village, and to learn so many of his tunes. More of these tunes can be heard on our cassette Memories in Cababi (UBIK 27); the proceeds go to his widow, Nancy. .
4 Love on the Range – Another from Jack Thorpe’s collection. “I got this from Doc Henderson at an Albuquerque Live Stock Association meeting.” Ken and Jeanie wrote the tune.
5 Polka de Gascogne – This is a tune from Gascogne, in SW France. We learned it at the Grand Bal de l’Europe in Gennetines, France, from Phillipe Gaillard, Polo Burguière and Didier Oliver, but up here on the Divide we play it Southwestern style.
6 El Testimonio/Cuadrilla de Pecos – Antonia Apodaca is 77 years old and lives in the house where her mother was born, in Rociada, NM, at 8,000 ft. She is a great songwriter and musician, playing the diatonic accordeon and guitar in the chilepepper style she learned from her family, who were renowned musicians in the northeastern mountains of New Mexico. El Testimonio is the testimony of a man applying for assistance, who lists all his fluid assets. The Cuadrilla de Pecos is from violinista Gregorio Ruiz of Pecos, NM, who played until his death at the age of 95.
7 Vals Emiliano/Polka Montaña – We learned Vals Emiliano from the great violinista of Bernal, NM, Cleofes Ortiz. Cleofes learned this tune from his uncle Emiliano Ortiz, who was a well know violinista in the area when Cleofes was still a young man. Polka Montaña is a tune we learned from Maximiliano Apodaca, Antonia’s late husband, an accomplished violinista.
8 Bal de Charlot – Dennis McGee was playing dances in the 1890’s. In the 1970’s he would come and sit on our back porch in Louisiana and play with us for hours. We learned this tune from him.
9 Fierro/Redondo de Leyba – Our friend and neighbor, Ana Egge, wrote this song about Fierro, a nearby town, and a recent struggle between the copper industry and Fierro’s people. The second piece is a typically New Mexican waltz we learned from Cleofes Ortiz.
10 Crook Brothers’ Sally Ann/14 Miles to Georgia – Mark learned Sally Ann from Faith Dominy, who heard the Crook Brothers playing it this way. The second tune came from a recording of a dance in Santa Barbara, CA, which Paul Griffith, Mark’s first tune guru, caught being played by Jumahl, and Bob Willoughby.
11 Patty Moorhead/Fat Doctor – Patty Moorhead is a poem by Jack Thorpe, “Written on Lower Pecos, New Mexico, June, 1901, after Roy Bean [“the hanging judge”] had told me of this fact concerning Patty.” Jeanie and Emily Abbink wrote the last verse, because the song seemed to end abruptly. We learned The Fat Doctor from JP and Pete Lewis of Crow Flat, NM, descendents of the Lewis Brothers, who made records in 1929 in El Paso, Texas. Pete still ranches the isolated hills of Crow Flat, NM, north of Dell City, Texas, and JP lives in town, both within view of Guadelupe Peak.
12 La Ciudad de Jauja – We had the pleasure of knowing Edwin Berry of Tomé, NM, treasurer of hundreds of traditional Hispanic songs from the Rio Grande Valley. We learned this tune from a recording of him now in the John Donald Robb Archive of SW Music at the University of New Mexico. When in Mexico City recently, we sang this for our taxi driver and asked if he knew Jauja. He explained that “we’re in Jauja” means “we have more than enough of everything” like our “Fat City;” and no, he still hadn’t been there.
13 Second Time in San Xavier/Lonnie’s Polka – These are two more wonderful tunes from Elliott Johnson.
14 Home on the Great Divide – According to Larry Hanks, Sara Carter wrote this song and the Carter Family recorded it as ‘Railroading On The Great Divide.’ We added the last verse and chorus.
My True Love –
1. J’ai eu nouvelles de ma belle, elle étais là-bas au Texas.
J’ai passé par Eunice et moi je m’ai acheté un pain de
J’ai arrivé à Basile et moi j’ m’ai acheté un “can” sardines,
C’était pour faire le grand voyage; c’était là-bas au Texas.
2. Quand j’arrivé au Lac Charles moi j’ai mangé la moitié.
J’ai quitté l’aut’ moitié; c’était pour mon déjeuner.
J’arrivé a Texas c’est là où j’ai vu,
Une vieille amitié ça va jamais s’oublier.
Elle étais aprés m’espérer avec des larmes dans ces yeux.
Elle m’a dit, “Mon cher nèg’, mais toi t’es venu pour me
1. I had some news from my sweetheart; she was over there in
I went by Eunice and I bought myself a five-cent loaf of
I arrived in Basile and I bought myself a can of sardines
To make a big trip over there to Texas.
2. When I arrived in Lake Charles, I ate half of it,
I saved the other half for my breakfast.
I arrived at her house, that’s when I saw
That an old friendship will never be forgotten.
She was waiting for me with tears in her eyes
And she said, “My dear, you have come to marry me!”
El Testimonio – from Antonia Apodaca, Rociada N.M.
1. Tengo unos zapatos de cuero de res, que por donde quiera
se mete los pies.
REFRAIN: Apunte usted, señor escribano, el dedo en la
pluma, y la pluma en la mano y apunte usted.
2. Tengo una camisa de mucha finesse, que tiene remiendos
derecho y revers.
3. Tengo una chaqueta de muy buena clase, que ya no le
queda mas que lo de atrás.
4. Tengo un jamón de rico comer, lo tengo estampado allá en
5. Tengo una corbata me dió una muchacha, que ya no le
quedan mas que las ilachas.
6. Tengo un velise de marca estranjera, le faltan las cachas
y la abrochadera.
7. Tengo un sombrero de cuero de conejo, que ya no le queda
mas que el barbequejo.
8. Tengo unos calzones de muy buena clase, que por donde
quiera se ve lo de atrás.
English Lyrics by Antonia Apodaca & Ken Keppeler – 1991
1. My torn shoes are made from cowhide; my toes are showing
from side to side.
REFRAIN: Write this down sir, put your finger on your pen,
and write this down again and again and again.
2. My only shirt, it’s all I think about; it has patches inside
3. I have a jacket, it’s a thing of the past; the only thing left is
the part on the back.
4. I have some salt pork, richer than all; I have it hanging on
the side of the wall.
5. I have a tie that a girl gave to me; nothing is left but threads
6. My suitcase it comes from a very strange land; with no
hinges or latches it falls from my hand.
7. My hat is made of rabbit skin; I’m happy I have, at least,
just the rim.
8. I have some pants of the very best kind; when I
turn around, you can see my behind.
Ciudad de Jauja
1. Desde la ciudad de Jauja, me mandan solicitar.
Que me vaya, que me vaya de un tesoro a disfrutar.
2. ¿Qué dices, amigo, vamos a ver si dicen verdad?
Si es verdad de lo que dicen, nos quedamos por allá.
3. Los cerros son de pasteles, las quebradas de buñuelos.
Las piedras frutas cubiertas, piños son los caramelos,
4. Para toditos los flojos, es un punto regular,
Porque allí le dan de palos, al que quiera trabajar.
5. Con claco compras chaqueta, con cuartía pantalón,
Con un real compras el terno, sombrero, leva y bastón.
6. Pilares llenos de aceite, llenos y sin derramar;
Por allí vuelan los patos con su pimienta y su sal.
7. Hay un arroyo de leche, un arroyo de café,
Una montaña de queso, una montaña de té.
8. Hay árboles de tortllas, hay jumatitos de atole,
Con patitas de menudo y patitas de posole.
9. De todo les doy razón, de todo lo que yo ví.
Tienen el talón rajado como los de por aquí.
1. From the city of Jauja they write to invite me
to come, to come enjoy a treasure.
2. What do you say, amigo, shall we go see if it’s true?
If it’s true what they say, we’ll stay there.
3. The hills are made of pastries, valleys of funnel-cake,
the stones are candy-covered fruit, the pine cones,
4. Every last soul is a slacker–it’s protocol–
for there they apply the rod to whoever wants to work.
5. One bit will buy you a jacket, two bits will buy you
for a buck you get a three-piece suit, hat and cane.
6. Fountains full of cooking-oil, full without spilling,
in those parts the ducks fly salted and peppered.
7. There’s a river of milk, a river of coffee,
a mountain of cheese, a mountain of tea.
8. There are trees of tortillas, single-shots of corn,
with menudo and posole on the side.
9. Here’s proof of everything I saw:
they are down-at-heels, just like folks here.