Watford City singer/ songwriter Jessie Veeder will share Americana songs and stories inspired by life on her family ranch on Saturday, March 5 at the High Plains Cultural Center in Killdeer. Veeder will open for award-winning author Craig Lesley at the Dunn County Writers’ “An Evening of Western Words & Song.”
By Jennifer Strange
For the DC Herald
“Intimate events like this, where I get to talk about the music and tell stories about where it comes from, are my favorite,” said Veeder, who has released four original albums and was recently named Folk Musician of the Year at the 2016 North Dakota Music Awards. “I look forward to letting the audience in on the stories and people who have influenced my songs.”
Veeder grew up on a cattle ranch in rural McKenzie County and says her music is influenced not only by artists like Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Nicks, but by “the howl of the wind, the bite of the cold and the roll of the plains.”
“I think North Dakota is characterized by its rich history and the way people have connected and adapted and thrived in this harsh country and climate,” Veeder said. “It seems those elements of the natural drama of this place are always reflected upon, celebrated and pondered.”
Veeder said her art is also influenced by the arrival of her first child. Three months ago, Veeder and husband Chad Scofield welcomed Edith “Edie” Elizabeth to the ranch.
“Right now my focus is on this new little human— singing to her and learning about each other,” said Veeder, who writes the popular blog “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch” and a newspaper column called “Coming Home.” “Navigating new motherhood seems to be the topic of choice these days.”
Get to know our regional singing star a little better through this question-and-answer session with Dunn County Writers’ Executive Director Jennifer Strange:
JS: What is your personal rural background in North Dakota?
JV: I grew up right on the edge of the badlands. Our cattle ranch has been in the family for 100 years and is where my dad was raised. It’s now where I live, ranch and raise my family.
JS: What about your background in the western arts? Have you always been a singer?
My dad, Gene Veeder, has been a folk musician his entire life. My mom was pregnant with me when he was playing in a popular regional band, so we always joke that I just had to be musical. I grew up singing alongside him as a folk duo. We played events across the state.
JS: When did you write your first song? What was it?
JV: I can’t pinpoint the first song I wrote officially. I’ve been making up songs and poems and stories from the moment I could sing and talk. When I was nine or 10, Dad gave me a book and told me to write it all down. Eventually, I picked up the guitar and these stories about horses and animals, or the creek that winds through the oak tree-filled coulees on the family place, became songs.
JS: Wow, that’s quite a legacy from your dad and now you’re forging your own voice and career. When did you start touring solo?
JV: I recorded my first original album when I was 16 and toured the country with a booking agent out of Nashville while I was in college. Three original albums later (including last year’s Nashville-produced “Northern Lights”), and I continue to write, perform and travel on behalf of my music.
JS: What rural topics do you find yourself drawn to as a writer of essays and songs?
JV: The landscape and ranching lifestyle have always been the backbone of my work. I think the landscape and harsh climate work as great metaphors to showcase a feeling or tell the story about who a person is.
JS: What’s one of your favorite things about living in western North Dakota? Least favorite?
JV: The things that are the best about this place— the isolation, the dramatic climate, the ranching community and the unpredictable economy—seem to also be the most challenging.
JS: You’ve had a major life change with the arrival of your first child; would you like to comment on how this milestone is influencing your writing and singing?
JV: I toured all summer while I was pregnant and now we are hunkered down a bit, waiting out the winter. I’m starting to plan for a spring/summer of music and how I will manage to tote her along.
For more information, visit www.jessieveedermusic.com and www.veederrance.com.