Treasure Valley, Idaho - Traveling through rural Idaho, southern Washington and eastern Oregon in 2007, folklorist Hal Cannon and the staff of the Western Folklife Center documented the contemporary ballads, or corridos, of the local Latino communities. In Treasure Valley, Idaho, Jose Garcia and other men played accordions, guitars and snare drums, while they sang narrative songs of the perils of crossing the Rio Grande River, immigration reform and other current events. Cannon, founding director of the Folklife Center, records these contemporary ballads and other folk music like it, and makes it available to the public.
The Folklife Center staff is dedicated to the preservation and cultivation of Western folk culture, including those vernacular forms of music rarely heard by the public. Supporting the Center's What's in a Song radio series, the Foundation's grant helped the Center record music and produce several features that were broadcast on over 800 public radio stations across the U.S. Among the programs supported were:
Corridos: These ballads tell true stories of conflict, love, longing and hope from the Mexican-American experience—in this case, farm workers of Oregon and rural Idaho. WFC sponsored a contest that encouraged the creation and performance of corridos from a contemporary perspective.
The Snake River Outlaws: This revered Western swing band shook the shack back in mid-century Montana. The production of a reunion concert and dance, CD, workshop, video and archival recordings revived the Outlaws' music for older and new generations.