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Jesse Veeder
Photo: Bismark Tribune

Veeder to perform in cowboy poetry gathering

Eric Killelea

Musician Jessie Veeder writes and sings about the badlands of western North Dakota, where she grew up on the family ranch.

After releasing her first original album at 16, she toured nationally, released three more albums and continues to blend western, rock, blues and heartfelt lyrics to tell stories about the buttes and creeks of her family’s working cattle ranch southeast of Watford City and what it’s like living in oil country.

“It’s a songwriter’s dream to live out here,” Veeder said. “It’s a great way to begin a conversation on life in the Bakken.”

Veeder is slated to perform at the 30th National Cowboys Poetry Gathering from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 in Elko, Nev. It’s her first trip to the annual event as she joins more than 50 musicians and poets from the U.S. and Canada performing on seven stages at four different venues.

Produced by the Western Folklife Center, the gathering presents music, poetry, fine western gear, films, workshops, dances and discussions focusing on encouraging the next generation and working together to ensure sustainability of the occupations and artistic traditions of the rural west, according to a press release. The theme of the event is “Expressing the Rural West — Into the Future!”

A native of Watford City, Veeder and her husband have worked the past four years alongside her father, Gene, as the fourth generation stewards of the Veeder Ranch. When not ranching or touring, she writes about her life on her “Meanwhile, back on the ranch…” blog, as well as through a weekly column in the Fargo Forum and as a commentator on Prairie Public Radio.

On Monday, Veeder, 30, said she started singing and song writing at a young age with the help of her father. “This Road” was her first album and her initial break. She performed her songs at regional fairs and festivals, and managed a national college and coffeehouse tour with a booking agency out of Nashville, Tenn.

While studying communications and public relations at the University of North Dakota, she cut “A Place to Belong” then released “Jessie Veeder Live,” an album recorded with her father’s hometown band.

Veeder’s latest release “Nothing’s Forever” is a 13-song anthem rooted in the acoustic guitars, dobro, steele and bass work of local musicians and backed by the harmonica and harmonies of her father. The single “Boomtown,” an homage to the people working in oil country, has put her music in various new programs and national and international documentaries.

Veeder said she’s “based in folk music” where her influences include John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Mumford & Sons and Bruce Springsteen.

“I wanted to write music that told a story,” Veeder said, recalling her listening to the lyrics of Prine and Harris to learn how to pen her songs.

She has recently sought out new influences to include “alternative coffeehouse” and “alternative country” styled-music.

Veeder suspects she was invited to the gathering because her “music focuses  a lot on what it’s like to be growing up in middle America.”

She remains excited about the music scene in western North Dakota.

“I want to continue this legacy of the cowboy culture, community and family…in the middle of this huge craze and hustle and bustle of this oil boom,” Veeder said. “I found my niche out here because people are curious to what’s happening in western North Dakota.”

Veeder plans to continue growing her regional fan base, wanting to head into the recording studio next winter.

“In North Dakota, it’s a good time to be in the studio,” she jests.

Her music can be found at iTunes, www.jessieveedermusic.com or www.veederranch.com. Tickets to the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased at www.westernfolklife.org or by calling 775-738-7508.

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