Hal Cannon, "Hal Cannon" -- This Salt Lake City musician has long been an important figure in western music and culture. He is the founding director of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev.; a regular voice on NPR's "Weekend Edition"; and a respected folklorist by profession. The Utah native has also played in many bands, including Red Rock Rondo, and has led such acts as the Deseret String Band.
But Cannon's first collection arrived just last year.
Produced by the noted Jim Rooney, Cannon includes a strong cast of supporting Utah talent, including members of Red Rock Rondo (Phillip Bimstein, Kate MacLeod, Harold Carr, Flavia Cerveno-Wood and Charlotte Bell), as well as Anke Summerhill, Rex Flinner Cathy Foy and Tom Carter. Instrumentation includes those usually associated with bluegrass and folk, plus accent pieces like oboe and English horn and piano.
Cannon's 12-song album includes all-original material. Subject matter ranges wide, including "Poet's Waltz," a song written for the 1986 PBS documentary of the same name. "Soldier's Heart," a tribute to veterans suffering from PTSD (the song's name is a Civil War term for the condition), is moving and soothing. "Desert Home" is about the beauty of the Great Basin, and "Love the Place You Live" reminds us to be conservators of that beauty.
It's good to have Cannon's work finally recorded. His longtime love of the tunes, people and land of the Great West shows through in this thoughtful, well-crafted collection.