South Dakota State Fair Centennial Stage Seeks South Dakota Talent

The South Dakota State Fair and entertainer Sherwin Linton are in search of guest entertainers for one of Linton’s fifteen shows on the AARP Centennial Stage during the 2018 South Dakota State Fair, which runs Aug. 30 through Sept. 3. Those interested in being considered should send information to the South Dakota State Fair office. The AARP Centennial Stage features South Dakota musicians and entertainers as opening acts for each of Linton’s shows.

“We are now inviting South Dakota talent to submit CDs, DVDs, photos and bios for consideration to be included as a guest on the 2018 AARP Centennial Stage,” stated Sherwin Linton. “We welcome people of all ages and skill levels to submit.”

Materials can be sent to:

South Dakota State Fair

Attn: AARP Centennial Stage

1060 3rd Street SW

Huron, SD 57350

The 2018 South Dakota State Fair will run from Thursday, Aug. 30, through Monday, Sept. 3. Channel Seeds Preview Day will be Wednesday, Aug. 29. This year’s theme is “Experience the Magic.” For more information on State Fair events, contact the fair office at 800.529.0900, visit or find us on Facebook or Twitter.


Allen and Jill Kirkham’s New CD ” SUNRISE ON THE PRAIRIE”

Music Sample

Review By Bob Everheart
National Traditional Country Music Association for Country Music News International

Sunrise On The Prairie

Sunrise On The Prairie – Whoopie Ti Yi Yo – God’s Country Waltz – I Ride Old Paint – Muckin’ Out Stalls – Red River Valley – Love Burst – Home on The Range – Buffalo Gals – Spanish Is The Loving Tongue – Uncle Bob – All The Pretty Little Horses
Anyone who likes ‘cowboy’ music, or perhaps ‘western’ music, it’s always a pleasure to hear someone who does it well, doing it like it might have sounded around a campfire.  That’s the listening experience of this lovely married couple who have taken ‘western’ music into their hearts and minds, and put it on the stage, on the record player, on the minds of all who listen, and at a campfire.  I want to point out early on here that Allen Kirkham has spent 34 years in military service to America.  Partly Air Force and partly Army.  His wife Jill is a professional artist and retired school teacher.  Between the two, there has to be many many experiences that would surely make a good ‘cowboy’ song.  They both have excellent musical instrument abilities on this CD, Allen on guitar and mandolin, Jill on lead guitar, bass, and harmonica.  I especially enjoyed the addition of Joe Stephenson’s fiddle on the opening song “Sunshine On The Prairie,” one of Allen’s originals.  Jimmy Lee Robbins on guitar and Lee Patterson on accordion for this great original song too.  Most excellent.  Also the addition of Juan Eduardo DeHoyos on lead guitar, and Katie Lautenschlager on fiddle on some of the other songs.  I got ‘hooked’ on western music and western swing a long time ago.  I use my association with the Smithsonian Institution to research old music, and it helps a lot, especially on songs like “Red River Valley” which Allen has a super lead vocal version.  Lots of folks think that ‘Red River’ is somewhere in southwest America, but it’s not, it’s the river that flows between the Dakotas and Minnesota, written by someone from South Dakota.  The first record of it being performed is from a dated newspaper article relating to a singer who sang that song in an old bar along the Nebraska-South Dakota border.  So it actually has a lot of ‘connect’ to the upper Midwest.  This whole album by the Kirkhams is a joy to listen to, especially “Red River Valley” with a nice old-timey harmonica in it, and a great fiddle.  I also like “Buffalo Gals” which is definitely known as a ‘cowboy’ song today, but it wasn’t in the beginning.  “Buffalo” in Buffalo Gals is the name of the town in New York where this song came from.  When is was sang way back then, they also added other towns to the song, like Albany and Elmira.  Today it’s exactly where it needs to be.  Sung around the camp-fire, just like it used to be.  Marshmallows and hot dogs on the sticks getting cooked. That’s the image I get when I hear these two dear people singing their ‘cowboy’ songs.  Off to the Rural Roots Music Commission goes to see what they think.  I have a pretty good idea, most of them have youngun’s that like hot dogs and marshmallows. RECORD REVIEW BY: Bob Everhart, President, National Traditional Country Music Association for Country Music News International


Escape to the Park February Program

Beat the winter blues and Escape to the Park!  Custer State Park will be hosting the Black Hills Ukulele Orchestra, Saturday, February 17 from 1:00-2:00pm at the Visitor Center located at the intersection of Hwy 16A and Wildlife Loop Road.  The orchestra will play a selection of popular music and end the program with an open invitation to audience members to try their hand at the ukulele.  The Black Hills Ukulele Orchestra is a program of the non-profit Custer Area Arts Council.

Don’t forget our winter hikes; snowshoe hikes take place Saturday, February 10, and Saturday, March 10.  Also note Saturday, March 17 on your calendar and watch for more Escape to the Park programming information.

The Visitor Center will be closed Monday, February 26.

A park entrance license is required to enter the park and can be purchased at the Park Office from 8:00am to 4:30pm during the week, or at the Visitor Center open from 10:00am to 3:00pm Monday through Friday, and 9:00am to 4:00pm Saturday and Sunday.

For more information check the Custer State Park Facebook page at or contact the Park Office at (605) 255-4515.


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Hugh Masekela performing during the 16th Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
Esa Alexander/The Times

Gwen Ansell, University of Pretoria

Trumpeter, flugelhorn-player, singer, composer and activist Hugh Ramapolo Masekela has passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer.

When he cancelled his appearance last year at the Johannesburg Joy of Jazz Festival, taking time out to deal with his serious health issues, fans were forced to return to his recorded opus for reminders of his unique work. Listening through that half-century of disks, the nature and scope of the trumpeter’s achievement becomes clear.

Masekela had two early horn heroes.

The first was part-mythical: the life of jazz great Bix Biederbecke filtered through Kirk Douglas’s acting and Harry James’s trumpet, in the 1950 movie “Young Man With A Horn”. Masekela saw the film as a schoolboy at the Harlem Bioscope in Johannesburg’s Sophiatown. The erstwhile chorister resolved “then and there to become a trumpet player”.

The second horn hero, unsurprisingly, was Miles Davis. And while Masekela’s accessible, storytelling style and lyrical instrumental tone are very different, he shared one important characteristic with the American: his life and music were marked by constant reinvention. As Davis reportedly said:

I don’t want to be yesterday’s guy.

Much has already been written about Masekela’s life and its landmarks: playing in the Huddleston Jazz Band in the 1950s on a horn donated by Louis Armstrong; performing in the musical “King Kong” in the 1960s and at the Guildhall and then Manhattan schools of music with singer Miriam Makeba; US pop successes in the 1970s and then touring Paul Simon’s “Graceland” in the 80s and 90s.

What is less discussed is the music, and the innovative imagination he has periodically applied to draw it fresh from the flames.

Breaking new ground

The Huddleston band, plus time as sideman and in stage shows, were the traditional career path for a young musician. But then Masekela broke his first new ground. With fellow originals, including saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, as The Jazz Epistles they cut the first LP of modern African jazz in South Africa.

“Jazz Epistle: Verse One” (1960) featured band compositions marked by challenging improvisation – “a cross between mbaqanga and bebop”. Mbaqanga is form of South African township jive and bebop an American jazz style developed in the 1940s.

Masekela had also joined the pit band and worked as a copyist for South Africa’s first black musical, “King Kong”.

This exposure attracted attention to his talent from potential patrons at home and abroad. Pushed by the horrors of the Sharpeville massacre when the South African police shot and killed 69 people on 21 March 1960, and pulled by donated air-tickets and scholarships, Masekela left for London, and then New York.

In the next two decades, Masekela’s re-visioning of his music took many forms. He found America hard, but with wife Miriam Makeba (the marriage lasted from 1964 – 1966), the production skills of Gwangwa, and the support of American singer Harry Belafonte he proactively introduced audiences to South African music and the destruction of apartheid.

On the ironically titled 1966 live “Americanisation of Ooga Booga”, he demonstrated the creative possibilities of “township bop”. Masekela did this by mashing up repertoire and playing styles from the South Africa he had left and the America he had landed in.

But he was also looking in other directions: in collaborations with other African musicians; towards fusion (with The Crusaders), rock (with The Byrds) and even pop at the Monterey Pop, festival.

That list captures only a fraction of his projects in the 1960s. Some bore instant fruit: his 1968 single, “Grazin’ In the Grass”, topped the Billboard Hot 100 list and sold four million copies; the previous year’s “Up Up and Away” became an instant standard.

In 1971, he teamed up with Gwangwa and Caiphus Semenya for another pan-African vision: The Union of South Africa. In 1972 he explored a stronger jazz orientation on “Home is Where The Music Is” with, among others, sax player Dudu Pukwana, bassist Eddie Gomez, keyboardist Larry Willis and Semenya.

Sixties counterculture

But as the title of “Grazin’ In the Grass” suggests, Masekela was also bewitched by other aspects of Sixties counterculture. He dated his addiction back to the alcohol-focused social climate of his early playing years in South Africa, but by the early Seventies he admitted:

I had destroyed my life with drugs and alcohol and could not get a gig or a band together. No recording company was interested in me…

That depression inspired the song that achieved genuinely iconic status back home in South Africa: the 1974 reflection on migrant labour, “Stimela/Coal Train”.

Foreign critics have handed that status to other Masekela songs, such as “Soweto Blues”, “Gold” or the much later “Bring Him Back Home”. Yet powerful though those are, it is Stimela, with its slow-burning steam-piston rhythm that captured the hearts of South Africans in struggle back home, and still does today. And of course the lyrics:

There’s a train that comes from Namibia and Malawi /there’s a train that comes from Zambia and Zimbabwe/ from Angola and Mozambique…

Masekela said:

For me songs come like a tidal wave … At this low point, for some reason, the tidal wave that whooshed in on me came all the way from the other side of the Atlantic: from Africa; from home.

Shortly afterwards, Masekela headed off to Ghana, hooked up with Hedzoleh Soundz, and was soon back in the charts. “Stimela” received its first outing on the album “I Am Not Afraid”, with West African and American co-players including pianist Joe Sample.

By the mid ‘80s, the hornman was back in southern Africa, recording “Technobush” at the mobile Shifty Studio in Botswana, and performing for the Medu Arts Ensemble with a Botswanan/South African band, Kalahari. His music shifted again: roots mbaqanga came strongly to the fore to speak simply and directly to people now openly battling the apartheid regime just across the border.

Returning home

After liberation and his return home, Masekela once more chose fresh directions. In 1997 he banished his addictions and began to showcase the virtuoso player he could have been 30 years earlier without the distractions of the West Coast. He fronted big European jazz bands, and benchmarked a long musical friendship with Larry Willis with the magisterial Friends.

But his shrewd ear for the music of today, rather than yesterday, also took him into younger company. He collaborated with current stars – including singer Thandiswa Mazwai – often encouraging them to take centre stage. Just before the recurrence of his cancer, he was planning a festival collaboration with rapper Riky Rick.

To cap the transformation, the individualistic rebel of the 60s and 70s became an elder statesman of social activism. In 2001, he established a foundation to help other musicians escape addiction. Once more he foregrounded the music of continental Africa, to campaign against xenophobia. And the return of his own illness became the cue to exhort other men to get checked for prostate cancer.

Other South African musicians have succeeded overseas; many have made one mid-career image switch – but few have shown us, in only one person but more than 30 albums, so many of the faces and possibilities of South African jazz.

Hugh Masekela, musician, activist. Born: 4 April 1939; Died: 23 January 2018

The ConversationMasekela Playlist:

‘Blues for Hughie’ from the album, Jazz Epistle Verse One.
‘Unhlanhla (Lucky Boy)’ from The Americanization of Ooga Booga.
The major Masekela hit, ‘Grazin in the Grass’.
Hugh Masekela with ‘Up Up & Away’.
‘Shebeen’ from The Union of South Africa.
‘The Big Apple’ from Home is Where The Music Is.
‘Stimela’, a South African classic.
‘Motlalepula’ from Technobush.
Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis live.
‘African Sunset’ with Thandiswa Mazwai.
Masekela in conversation with the rapper Riky Rick.

Gwen Ansell, Associate of the Gordon Institute for Business Science, University of Pretoria

This article was originally published on The Conversation.