FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2016, 5:00 p.m. CDT
Contact Jason Hogue, Peru State College Marketing and Communications, 402.872.2429
Peru, Nebraska- “All Original, All Nebraska” was released in June by Dan Holtz and Flatwater Highway. The album includes original songs celebrating and commemorating Nebraska’s sesquicentennial.
Dr. Dan Holtz, professor of English at Peru State College, wrote all but one of the twelve songs about Nebraska. A short narrative accompanies each song on the CD with additional historical background in an insert included with the album. The insert also includes references for further study.
Holtz said, “The songs tell a variety of stories about people, places and events in Nebraska history. The CD has songs about Nebraska’s natural and frontier history, but also features songs which examine Native American themes, the lives of strong women and the stories of immigrants who came to Nebraska seeking better lives.”
“I worked to write songs that fit the stories I’ve always heard. A good example is “The Gentleman’s Outlaw” about Doc Middleton, a notorious horse thief.”
The liner notes for “The Gentleman’s Outlaw” begin, “Nebraska’s most recent state slogan, ‘Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice,’ is meant to capture the friendly nature of its people as well as the idea that Nebraska is a nice place to visit. Ironically, the slogan may also capture at least some of the nature of the most notorious outlaw of the state’s early days, a colorful character known as Doc Middleton.”
“I’ll Always Die a Husker” pays tribute to fan loyalty and to the long and glorious history of Nebraska football and its legendary coaches, Osborne and Devaney, as well as some of its most noted players from the 1970s to the present.
“The Sky’s No Limit“ tells the story of Evelyn Sharp from Ord, NE, who became, at 16, the youngest Nebraska woman of her time to earn a private pilot’s license. She then went on to become the only Nebraska woman to carry airmail during the Twentieth Anniversary Commemorative Flight in 1938, as well as the youngest female flying instructor and the youngest female transport pilot in the United States. The song’s chorus reads, “So take wing, climb the air, kiss the clouds, follow your spirit. For you, Sharpie, the sky’s no limit.”
The song Holtz didn’t write is Nebraska’s state song, “Beautiful Nebraska.” The song is performed here by Julie Baker-Anderson whose rendition was instrumental in surmounting a challenge to the song’s official status.
Adopted on the hundredth anniversary of Nebraska’s statehood, the song features lyrics by Jim Fras and Guy Miller which seem a simple adoration of
the state. However the music, as expressed by Baker-Anderson, bring the words, “Beautiful Nebraska, peaceful prairie land, laced with many rivers, and the hills of sand; dark green valleys cradled in the earth, rain and sunshine bring abundant birth,” new life.
“All Original, All Nebraska” is Holtz’s second album and his first with Flatwater Highway. His first album was “Welcome to Historic Nebraska” released in 2002. “Historic Nebraska” featured traditional folk songs and a few original works by Holtz.
“I wanted to put together another album to coincide with Nebraska’s sesquicentennial. I’ve been doing a program for Humanities Nebraska for twenty years called ‘Nebraska Through Song and Story.’ I would sing traditional folk songs and tell folk stories.”
Holtz continues, “In this whole history of preserving and presenting folk songs, I realized so many stories didn’t have a song to go with them. That’s the inspiration for the album.”
He credits Steffan Baker with putting together Flatwater Highway for the album, “Steffan spent ten years in Nashville working in the music business, but he’s from my hometown (Ord, NE). He was interested in the concept of the album and offered to put together some other people.”
Flatwater Highway features Ralph Brown on the drums; Cindy Huebert on violin; Eli Huebert on acoustic and electric lead guitar; and Martin Huebert on electric bass. Holtz plays acoustic guitar and Baker plays acoustic guitar and mandolin.
“We chose the name Flatwater Highway because Nebraska means flatwater to the Oto Indians. The highway fits because of our historic need to be connected – whether it’s the Oregon Trail, I-80 or even the rivers themselves.”
Holtz is the lead vocalist on seven of his songs, while Baker-Anderson is the lead on three more and Steffan Baker on one.
Holtz adds, “I enjoy putting together these kinds of songs because they challenge me to blend historical research with artistic expression.”
The painting on the front cover of the album is “Sandhills at Sunrise” by Ralph Brown of Grand Island, NE. Brown;s “Wings over the Platte“ is on the back panel. Brown is also known as Tawennihake and is a Mohawk Indian of the Akwesasne tribe. An educator and instructor on the use of the Medicine Wheel, he is a pipe carrier, ceremony leader, traditional storyteller and author of “Awakening the Eagle: A Guide to the Medicine Wheel” and “13 Virtues to a New Life: A Journey Around the Medicine Wheel.” More of Brown’s work can be found at mirroredwindows.com.
Keeping to his all-Nebraskan theme, Holtz brought some of the work back to Peru State College. PSC graphic design student, James Ramsey from Beatrice designed the cover and liner notes. Ramsey grew up around music and the development of materials to accompany albums.
Holtz hopes to soon have the CD for sale at the Nebraska State Historical Society Landmark Stores and from CDBaby.com. If you cannot wait to own the album, you can contact Holtz directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (402) 713-9600. The albums are $15 or two for $25.
For more information, visit www.peru.edu or call 1-800-742-4412.
About Peru State College: Nestled in the historic hills of the Missouri River, the “Campus of a Thousand Oaks” is Nebraska’s oldest college and will celebrate its sesquicentennial anniversary in 2017. Peru State College’s constant commitment to academic excellence has resulted in a unique and innovative mix of online, traditional, undergraduate and graduate programs. Similarly, the college’s ongoing student engagement promotes inquiry, discovery and innovation on-campus and across the region. Peru State College is committed to being a good steward of education, students, the region and Nebraska for another 150 years.