Sangamon Songs is an acoustic music song cycle based on the 1893 diary of Harry Glen Ludlam, a teenager who lived on our family farm.
On August 10, 1893, Harry Glen Ludlam, a 16 year old boy living on a farm in Sangamon County, a few miles west of Springfield, Illinois began daily entries in his diary. He continued until February 17, 1894, the day before his family left to head west and a few days after my great-grandfather purchased the Ludlam farm. I discovered the diary well over a hundred years later tucked into a corner of the old pie-tin cabinet in the front hall of our farmhouse (pictured above in early March, 1894). As I read through the pages, Harry's world again came to life through his daily, personal recollections. Shucking corn, a trip to the 1893 Chicago world's fair, Gypsies on the farm, walks in the woods, lessons on his cornet, the tragic death of a schoolteacher, his grandma's passing and the family's decision to sell the farm and move to the state of Washington were all recorded in a plaintive and sincere style.
As I read the entries I felt inspired to take this special opportunity to write these experiences into songs using my talents as a songwriter combined with personal knowledge of the places Harry spoke of on the farm. I lived in the same house, occupied the same bedroom, walked the same woods, traveled the same roads, attended the same church, had the same families as neighbors and even used some of the same tools (and same outhouse!) that this young man had nearly one hundred and twenty years before.
Over the last two years I wrote 13 songs related to Harry's writings, researching the historical topics while completing a master's degree project in Liberal & Integrative Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. We're now in the process of recording at Inside Out Studio in Sparta, Illinois with Gary Gordon producing. http://www.thegordonsmusic.com/?page_id=82 Musicians involved include Gary, Roberta Gordon, Robert Bowlin, Ross Sermons, Curtis Jay, Mark Stoffel and Theresa O'Hare using autoharp, violin, cello, bass, mandolin, guitar, fiddle, accordion, piano, flute, whistle and other acoustic-based instruments to compliment my lyrical interpretation of the journal entries.
The money raised through your generous pledges at Kickstarter.com will be used to complete the recording and mixing process and manufacture the CD and accompanying booklet for Sangamon Songs. My budget also includes money for promotion on a national and international level to help share the finished work with the world. The monetary goal established is a minimum and with extended interest we'll have enough to complete all this and more. I've funded early recording sessions out of pocket, but now I'm asking to others to pledge as I bring this fascinating project to fruition. My rewards contain the Sangamon Songs CD and booklet, a concert at the farmhouse, a copy of my master's project paper, and a collection of all my other CDs still in print with an additional CD of oddities from my music career. I even offered a goat milking lesson and tour of the farm for those adventuresome souls looking for something on the bucolic side. Thank you so much for participating in this project. I've come to feel this is a valuable contribution to our culture, artistically and historically, as well as becoming a milestone in my creative career.
One final note: I decided to launch with Kickstarter.com on August 10, 118 years to the day Harry Glen Ludlam wrote his first entry of, "Today is hot and dry. We've had no rain for weeks and the dust lays thick on the road." Unfortunately a snag with my online banking password derailed that idea (funny that my project about a 19th century diary got put on hold because of a 21st century glitch), so I held off until, today, September 10 (9-10-11) to kick off with Kickstarter.com. Thanks for your interest in Sangamon Songs as together we bring Harry's world to life through song.
Literally I was poking through the pie-tin cabinet which is filled with odds and ends from a hundred years ago and found it stuck in the back. My grandma (she was born in the house in 1894) remembered it and my father had looked through it, but no one had really taken the time to read the entries.
I really don't know for sure other than he left the end of February 1894 with his family for the State of Washington. Ancestry.com records indicate a person of the same name and approximate age joined the US Army in 1910 as a trumpet player. He went through both world wars, retiring in 1950 as a major, then died in 1962. I think this was him, but have been unable to confirm with any Ludlam family members. Sure love to know if he kept up his journal writing.
Basically I just read the entries then found something intriguing, thought about it, sometimes researching the subject historically, and then wrote a song that felt like it fit the idea. For several months Harry wrote every day that he shucked corn, so I read about corn shucking folk songs, the history of corn harvesting in that time period, then thought of how he might have felt from his writings and out came a song. I cover the creative process thoroughly in my master's thesis.
Yes we do. We rent the small amount of tillable acres to a local farming family and keep the remaining land in conservation acres and pasture. My mom has several goats we milk for personal consumption, chickens for eggs and insect control, a big garden, a farm dog, several dozen cats, a few small horses, owls, coyotes, rabbits, deer and other wild animals. Our off the farm is essential, as it is to most small farmers, but we enjoy living there as a family farm.
Those folks are Black Joe (the horse), Thomas Duncan and Harriet Duncan my maternal great-grandparents, and their four year old son, my great-uncle, Murray Duncan. I have no idea who the dog is. This photo was taken in 1893 just weeks after the farm was purchased from the Ludlam's, and of course, would look much like it did during Harry's diary time.
The boy is my grandnephew, Connor Dennis, displaying a keen entertainment sense. Yes, that is a miniature horse, named Beau, who due to a negligent mother and cold weather spent some time in the house for feeding and sleeping during late winter of 2011. He's doing well hanging out with sister Zoe who also spent time as a house horse the year before. If those walls could talk...
pledged of $3,500 goal
seconds to go
Sep 10, 2011 - Oct 20, 2011 (40 days)
Pledge $1 or more
Updates and goings on from Sangamon Songs and a hearty and heartfelt thank youEstimated delivery: Oct 2011
Pledge $5 or more
Access to downloadable prints of pages from the diary of Harry Glen Ludlam and pictures from the Sangamon Songs project.Estimated delivery: Nov 2011
Pledge $10 or more
Digital download of Sangamon Songs before release date and all of the above.Estimated delivery: Nov 2011
Pledge $25 or more
Signed Sangamon Songs CD and booklet sent to you plus a handwritten thank you on a copy of your choice of a page from Harry's diary. Pick from entries about the World's Fair, shucking corn, the Gypsies, the secret at the barn dance, and others relating to the songs. Choice of one of the upcoming Sangamon Songs merchandise items, such as T-shirt, bandana and other goodies. Plus a beautiful, handmade, beaded wire art designed and crafted by Roberta Gordon courtesy of Inside Out Studio and all of the above.Estimated delivery: Dec 2011
Pledge $35 or more
Signed Sangamon Songs CD and booklet, plus signed copy of my 2010 master's degree project thesis from University of Illinois Springfield explaining in detail the diary history and the creative process of writing the songs including lyrics with corresponding diary pages and all of the above.Estimated delivery: Dec 2011
Pledge $55 or more
22 backers Limited (28 of 50 left)
All of the above plus entry to the Sangamon Songs release party and concert held at the farmhouse where Harry lived and I live now. I'll give guided tours of the house and grounds paying special interest to diary and song connections, bring out the actual diaries to peruse, and even share my goat milking techniques (if a doe is fresh) out in the barn. If there is enough response for this pledge (that goat milking gets 'em every time), we'll check with Grandma and arrange for a second night (there is only seating for about 50 folks). We can work out a deal for couples who only need one copy of items, but two seats. :)Estimated delivery: Dec 2011
Pledge $100 or more
5 signed CDs of Sangamon Songs and booklet, personal thanks on a diary page copy, Inside Out Studio beaded wire art, digital download and accessible printable diary copies for the price of 4. This is for you folks looking to supply the county or with large families to feed music to. I'll throw in a copy of Carry Me Home (my 2007 release recorded with the Gordons) with each of these packages. That's your gift for getting gifts for others. Nice job.Estimated delivery: Dec 2011
Pledge $130 or more
How about your very own Tom Irwin CD collection? I'll send Sangamon Songs, Carry Me Home, Live From Brewhaus,Travel On, Cornstock, Roots in the Earth, and a personalized 15-song rarities CD plus copies of concert posters and other odds and ends from my life in music. I'll make random selections or you can pick from songs I've recorded through the years and create your own disk of unreleased or out-of-print songs. There are various versions of live, studio and demo takes in my personal collection or I can sing you a new one of unrecorded material. This includes the other goodies from the $25 pledge Sangamon Songs items.Estimated delivery: Dec 2011
Pledge $150 or more
Like me to write a song for you? I'll do it on nearly any topic (I have my limits and tastes to consider) you would like such as, a wedding, birthday, courting chance, stubbed toe, end of the world as we know it (already done), pumpkins, lost, found, unrequited, eternal or otherwise love. I can record it and send via email just for you. This would be in addition to the $25 dollar pledge making this an original song composition for $125. Wow, a bargain at any price.Estimated delivery: Dec 2011
Pledge $250 or more
This one includes the complete Sangamon Songs package with CD, booklet, master's degree and all the good stuff with the 7 CD Tom Irwin collection, plus the upcoming video and documentary being filmed about the making of the CD. The DVD features a music video of whatever song we pick to do, plus interviews with those involved in the making of the music, footage of the farm, readings of the journal, descriptions of song origins and other items of interest. This is a one-time only offering just for Kickstarter.com folks and we only decided to do this two days ago with help from my video making friends.Estimated delivery: Feb 2012
Pledge $500 or more
For this pledge I'll come to your house and do a Sangamon Songs concert for family and friends within a reasonable distance from central Illinois. Believe me we can work something out if you're located outside the Midwest. I'm always looking for reasons to go play somewhere and will be on a traveling spree in 2012.Estimated delivery: Nov 2011
Pledge $1,000 or more
You just gotta offer this one: For a cool grand you can become Executive Producer of the Sangamon Songs project with your name prominently displayed on the CD cover and on my Web site. You also get to be a blessed patron of the arts and I will write a song for you in thanks. Obviously the ExProd gets copies of whatever included in the price of admission.Estimated delivery: Dec 2011