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Jeff Davidson, a former square dance caller, entertained for the Flint Hills Overland Wagon Train for 25 years. In the historic setting of wagon trains, he developed the idea of using historical western (particularly Kansas) events to introduce the songs he sang, and was soon asked to make his unique presentations of Kansas history and songs as entertainment for a variety of meetings and events. Computer technology allowed the addition of pictures that match with song lyrics to add visual to the presentation. He uses a combination of classic western and folk tunes along with his own compositions to highlight the significant historical events that lead Kansas into statehood.
Jeff is also employed as a Kansas State University watershed specialist. Education has been a big part of his life, and there is an educational component to his presentations of Kansas history. He is married to Kelley and has two grown children.
Combining a unique blend of songs, historical facts, and pictures, Jeff Davidson re-visits the history of the west and its tremendous influence on the shaping of the U.S. economy, ideology and heroism.
The west – and Kansas – was host to early explorers who traversed through parched plains as they explored the vast Louisiana purchase. It beckoned to the traders on the Santa Fe Trail, and to the pioneers on the Oregon Trail. The West did not escape the heartbreak of the Civil War, but the post war cattle drives created the greatest American hero – and the symbol of the west – the cowboy
Have performed in schools – often a day later than the main community presentation. Have performed in libraries and other venues when an historical occurrence is being commemorated.
Western music featuring elements of Kansas history introducing each song.
Program Length: 30 to 90 minutes
Program Content: Kansas history is interwoven between songs to give the performance an “educational program” feel. The history of the Texas to Kansas cattle drives are reflected in western tunes such as Rawhide, Git Along Little Doggies, Old Chisholm Trail, Annie Laurie, and Stampede. Settler Kansas history is emphasized in songs such as 160 Acres, Plowin’ in the New Ground, Home on the Range and Way Out West in Kansas. Kansas has an interesting fence history, giving new meaning to the western classic Don’t Fence Me In, and the many railroads built through the state can be pictured in the song – Buildin’ A Railroad, Railroad Corral and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe.
The early day explorers through Kansas and the first overland trails west – the Santa Fe and Oregon, can be commemorated with tunes such as Along the Santa Fe Trail, Wagon Wheels or Covered Wagon. Unique to the state of Kansas are the cowtowns – Abilene, Wichita, Newton, Ellsworth, Caldwell and Dodge City. Famous lawmen such as Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Erp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holladay walked the streets of these towns. The songs When Payday Rolls Around, Silver Target, and Ghost Riders in the Sky, are used to emphasize the importance of law enforcement, both then, and now.