Music conjures up images of Old West

Last Friday, the Shannon Ballroom at Carson Valley Inn was filled with the sights and sounds of the real west as up-and-coming cowboy singer, Brenn Hill, played to an appreciative capacity crowd. If you haven't heard of him yet, just hang on, it won't be long before his name will be on the top of the western music charts. He is a true "Northern Star," guiding the direction of a fresh new sound in western music.

Hill prefers to define his music as cowboy rather than country music and the description fits the sounds and words of his work. It echoes the values of old cowboy singers like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, refreshed with stories of a present day lifestyle of the American cowboy working the ranges of the west today. The American Cowboy is truly an endangered species, and Hill has shed a brilliant spotlight on that fact.

His latest CD, released in 2004, is titled "Endangered." Produced by Nashville great, Eddie Schwartz, the 14-song collection, all written by Hill, "offers insight into life and love and how changing times affect the land around us," according to

This newest addition to his collection was preceded by "Call You Cowboy" in 2002, "Trail Through Yesterday" in 2000, "Deeper Than Mud" in 1999 and "Rangefire" released in 1997.

Hill, who now lives in Hooper, Utah, with his wife, Sylinia, and their 4-year-old son, Quayden, is a sixth-generation Utah resident in his early 30s. Even though he is two generations away from living off the land like his pioneer ancestors, he understands the lifestyle and tries to honor it in the words to his songs. He brings out issues, that apply today, in an interesting and thought-provoking way.

Cut one on his "Endangered" CD, "Buckaroo Tattoo," speaks to the fact the girls can make as good a work hand as any man, never taking away from her feminine side but giving her a strength to get the job done. "Legacy Highway" was inspired by a day when Hill was stuck in traffic one morning heading south on I-15 through Davis County in Utah. It is a statement about the wetlands, open spaces and fields of alfalfa as they give way to the asphalt ribbons of six-lane super highways, and open spaces quickly disappearing from our land. "Pickup Truck Café reflects the values of the old "cracker barrels" of a century ago - a country line of communication still intact with a modern twist. Every small town has one and if you want to know what is happening in the community, just pull in there for a cup of coffee at 7 a.m. and you will know all the news before you leave.

"Dance Like The Fire" is a simple story of romance in a warm quiet place on a cold night and "Pierce" is a cowboy's memory of the few great horses they have the privilege to share a work day with. "My Old Chevy" offers insight into lifestyles and memories to be pasted down from generation to generation and "Be Back in Texas" bespeaks the rodeo cowboy life of broken hearts, broken dreams and the broken bones that accompanies the cowboy to follow that trail, while "Mirror Of Your Eyes" speaks to the fact that the eyes of love never lie.

"One Hand on the Riggin" was co-written by Bruce Burton, a talented songwriter/musician and producer who worked with Brenn on this rodeo-lifestyle song which is strongly influenced by the late and great Chris LeDoux. "Canadians" is a haunting melody of the seasons and how they change. The love for the winters and springs of the Canada geese, the sound of the wind in their wings, a beautiful sound in a song "only God could write."

The collection is rounded out with a tale of "Little John" and a story of a cowboy hobo, riding the rails from town to town and working ranch to ranch, living a hard-working, hard-drinking lifestyle teaching the lessons of not running from life, but to face it. "Lost River Outpost" speaks to the lonely and forgotten, of Buffalo Soldiers in need of comfort on a lonely night at the Lost River Outpost. The signature song, "Endangered" is a tribute to the outdoors, a statement of space and room for all of us in this great country and that life and love is fragile, something to be cared for and protected.

Hill has made the west his home, his love for a disappearing lifestyle is evident in every song he writes. He speaks from his heart and makes a statement well worth listening to. To all of us who value the open spaces, a way of life eaten up by "so called" progress, he is here to tell us the stories. For the listener of his music, take the words and sounds to heart.

For information on Brenn Hills, his concerts and how to purchase a CD, visit the Web site

n Jonni Hill is a staff writer at The Record-Courier. She can be reached at 782-5121, ext. 213, or at


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