Writing a song is an odd accomplishment for someone who couldn’t carry a tune with a packsaddle.
Still and all, lacking good sense, some time ago I thought to try it—and award-winning singer and songwriter Brenn Hill came to the rescue and made it reality.
I have long been obsessed with the Bear River Massacre. Events of that tragic day in 1863 have found their way into my poems, short stories, and an entire nonfiction book. Despite ignorance of the ways and means of music, being the curious sort I wondered if I could write a song about it.
The jumble of words that resulted seemed to have possibilities so I inflicted it on the good graces of my friend Brenn, without any real expectation that anything would result. Lo and behold, a few days later he sent me an audio file labeled “And the River Ran Red”—the title I had given the piece. Brenn re-engineered some of the words to meet the demands of lyrical structure and set it to a beautiful tune as haunting as the massacre itself.
On February 10 and 11 (2017, of course), Brenn is headlining Valentine’s Day weekend concerts at the American West Heritage Center in Utah’s Cache Valley—between Wellsville and Logan, and some 36 miles south of the Bear River Massacre site. And, he tells me, the audience will experience the first performance of “And the River Ran Red” as part of the concert.
I can’t wait. Join us.