Music was an integral part of life in mid-19th century America. The songs in this program were popular in the USA between 1840 and the 1890s, songs actually sung and heard by Americans in their homes, in saloons, on city streets, in music halls, on the Oregon Trail, travelling the great rivers, gold mining in the mountains, surviving the civil war, and settling the Western Territories. Music and songs were everywhere.

David explores the origins of each song—when did it become popular, who created it or first wrote it down, what else did they write, what was the world like then, why was this song created, where it was first sung, and what can we learn from it today?

Questions like these always lead to more questions, and the answers can lead to surprising and fun connections with things we already know.

David at Tor House

These discoveries expand our horizons, and give us a deeper understanding of our own heritage and our place in the continuum of human history.

David's playlist varies according to season and setting, but recent concerts in California and Oregon have included songs like Wait for the Wagon; O Shenandoah; Do They Miss Me at Home; Home Sweet Home; Hard Times Come Again No More; Take me up with you, dearie; Beautiful Dreamer; In the Days of 49 and a bunch more. You will learn the real name of the Man on the Flying Trapeze, the true story of My Old Kentucky Home, the surprising origins of Rock A Bye Baby, and other memorable tales.

David's storytelling interweaves the songs and places them into historical context. Combining music with vivid historical background ignites the imagination and brings life to history.

Listen to a few live excerpts from
recent performances of this concert.

Current Programs:


About David

The Washington Post has called David Gordon "an irresistible performer." He's a life-long troubadour whose compelling voice, keen sense of drama, and wacky humor have charmed audiences worldwide for more than 50 years.

David's international performing and recording career reaches from Bach to bluegrass, from grand opera to jazz, from Mozart to songs of the Oregon Trail. Read more here...

David Lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, author and artist Ginna Gordon. Together they run Lucky Valley Press, a boutique book editing and design firm for independent authors

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