Music of the West played locally
May 12, 2006
A fourth-generation saloon singer will perform Nevada roots music and a “sagebrush experience” at a Gardnerville bookstore on Saturday evening.
Award-winning singer-songwriter Chris Bayer will play songs from the West at the Eddy Street Book Exchange at 7 p.m. Bayer’s music includes historical mining songs, tin pan alley favorites and original compositions. His style of guitar playing and singing spans the gamut of Nevada flavor and history.
“I grew up listening to my father sing the old vaudeville songs that his father sang,” said Bayer, a Carson City resident. “The ‘Old Savage’ as my grandfather was called, performed in a movie house doing a tramp act in the ’20s. His father played music in a Civil War band and came from a family of German musicians. After retiring, my father spent his final decades singing old songs. I like to play several of these.”
Bayer weaves together the past and the present from the 1854 emigrant ballad “Arrival of the Greenhorn” to his original tale of “McGraw’s Gun.”
“I will be singing mostly original songs at the bookstore,” said Bayer. “I like songs that tell a story – ballads – in addition to old toe tappers. I do presentations on old mining songs and will add some of those. I’ll be bringing my guitar, banjo, fiddle, concertina, harmonica and button accordion.”
Bayer started playing music at the age of 12 when he learned finger-style guitar from a local banjo player.
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“A few years later I began hanging around with old-time fiddlers,” said Bayer.
When asked if he received formal instruction or was self taught, Bayer said, “All traditional musicians are self taught, sort of. You have to listen to, play beside, hang around and tell lies with lots of older musicians to play this music right.”
Known in Carson City for his original children’s musicals and across Nevada for his original children’s songs and puppet shows in libraries, Bayer is also the author of a definitive history of Nevada’s creation called “Profit, Plots and Lynching” and a study of the Gold Rush song and dance “The Miner’s Farewell.” His introductions to the songs of the West describe the history and sociology of the times.
“I’ve written three musicals for Bac Stage Kids at the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City – one during each of the last three years. I’ve played music off and on in Douglas County and many other places in Nevada over that last couple decades,” said Bayer.
“The Sierra Arts Foundation gave me an award once for a song I wrote, ‘Camping In Nevada.’ Nevada is full of stories and sometimes one of these works in a song.”
Saturday’s show will begin at 7 p.m. and is free. For more information call 782-5484.