The Arkansas Traveler
Music from
Little House on the Prairie


The Songs

What They Are Saying

Liner Notes


Download Hi Res Image



This stuff is SOOOO great!, December 26, 2006
By John Garrett (The Desert Southwest)

According to their website, they're going to do ten discs in the "Little House" series, which will be a truly wonderful thing, if they can keep the quality as high as it is on the first two CDs in the set.

I set up a reading circle with my daughter, my granddaughter and a couple of their friends, keep the discs cued up to the songs (if they're on the two discs I currently own), and it has truly enriched our experience.

As a music historian, I'm thrilled to death to see these songs coming back to life.

* * * * *

Fabulous!, January 12, 2007
By C. Schafer “15 years in the classroom” (Spokane, WA USA)

LOVE this CD! Was leery about having "fiddle tunes" constantly blaring through the house (my 8-yr-old is non stop when she loves a song), but the music is VERY enjoyable for the whole family.

* * * * *

Authentic Arkansas!, March 14, 2007
By Marny Bielefeldt (St. Louis, MO)

This is great stuff, really capturing the essence of the period. No matter what genre of music is your favorite, you will find this is something you can appreciate for its wonderful combination of talent.

* * * * *

Discover a rich part of American's musical heritage & legacy, December 31, 2006
By J. Ross (Roseburg, OR)

During her lifetime from 1867-1957, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote a famous series of eight "Little House" books that trace her family's history through the west from 1867 to 1885. Published between 1932-1943, the books have become classics in American children's literature. Within her stories are references to 126 songs. There are songs from the parlor, stage, minstrel shows, church and school. Laura's guiding musical spirit was her singing and fiddling father, Charles "Pa" Ingalls. On this musical tribute, the second CD in a planned series of ten albums, we are treated to contemporary renderings of 18 of the 126 referenced songs. Recognizing the esteemed place that music-making once held within the lives of ordinary American families and pioneers, the set's producers and many participating artists are songcarriers who understand the importance of preserving music tradition. The Natl. Endowment for the Humanities has also taken note of the project, and they supported the 2005 release ("Happy Land") by including it in the "We the People Bookshelf" program that resulted in 2,000 copies to be sent to libraries throughout the U.S.

Two tracks (The Blue Juniata, Happy Land) on this second album, "The Arkansas Traveler" were previously released on the first, "Happy Land," that title cut which appears more often in Wilder's books than any other hymn and came to epitomize family strength and opposition to unruly outside influences. Different interpretations of The Devil's Dream, The Arkansas Traveler, and Oh! Susanna appear on both albums. Rather than just instrumental, this CD has narrator Ranger Doug providing dialogue from 19th century sources with "The Arkansas Traveler." And Wilder referred to an undocumented "Devil's Hornpipe" in the book so Butch Baldassari and David Schnaufer play "Devil's Dream" at hornpipe tempo in a spare setting with only octave mandolin and dulcimer. In a similar manner, Oh! Susanna features only Alison Brown (banjo, guitar) and Andrea Zonn (vocal, violin, viola).

In a sense, the concept albums are the books' soundtrack. Fans of the "Little House" books will especially thrill in being able to hear the music that was an integral part of pioneer life on the prairie. Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music Professor Dale Cockrell recruited well-known mandolinist Butch Baldassari to co-produce the project. Top Nashville musicians enlisted to participate include Elizabeth Cook, Riders in the Sky, Dave Olney, John Cowan, Buddy Greene, Andrea Zonn, Alison Brown, Deborah Packard, Pat Enright, Doug Green, Keith Little, Mike Eldred, Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, Judith Edelman, David Schnaufer, Mike Bub, Pat Flynn, Bob Carlin, John Mock, Butch Baldassari, Peggy Duncan Singers, Mac Wiseman, Byron House, Blair String Quartet, Jeff Black and Jeffrey Taylor. Lyrics for the songs are available at

The result is a set of contemporary renditions of American folk music, a melting pot of hymns, minstrel show songs, spirituals and fiddle tunes. A 12-page CD booklet provides background about the songs and a few nice 1870s Currier & Ives print reproductions. One should imagine the days before radio and TV when music-making was a family activity pursued for fun, entertainment and education. For that same reason, families today will obtain plenty of enjoyment together with the rediscovery of classics, as well as new discoveries like "The Gum Tree Canoe," "Daisy Deane," "Roll On Silver Moon," "The Gypsy King," and "Bye Baby Bunting." 19th- century disc jockeys might've had program playlists that looked like these albums' repertoire. And in Wilder's books, it was always Pa's fiddle at the end of the day that helped the family get through tough times. A bonus track closes the album with a contemporary composition (by Stan Link) that brings an old singing/clapping rhyme song, "Pease Porridge Hot," back to life in our century as a perfect example of how the folklore tradition works to pass information, usually verbally, from generation to generation.

Wilder's eight children books inspired two television series - one that ran from 1974-1983, and the other which had a limited airing in 2005. With the CDs already issued and forthcoming in this 10-album series, we can all work hand-in-hand to help kids discover a rich part of American's musical heritage and legacy. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)

* * * * *

Really better than I expected, July 9, 2009
By Andrew Aceves (Farmington, MO USA)

I bought this soundtrack so I could learn all the songs from the book (I'm a performer/purist about reading to my kids). The music and production quality was far above what I expected. It's worth the price just for the fiddled "Irish Washer Woman". And the "Old Dan Tucker" was the best I've ever heard. Even better than the Bruce Springsteen version.

* * * * *

Arkansas Traveler CD- not quite Little House, December 28, 2008
By Dee Hall (San Bern, CA)

The CD is good. Interesting sound. Some of the songs are what we expected, a melody that Pa would have sang. Yet, other songs are a bit mixed and more modern. Overall, we're happy.