Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ken Graydon

It is with deep sadness that I report that Ken Graydon passed away last night, Saturday, July 29th. Many of you may remember that Ken was diagnosed with a brain tumor during last year's Encampment. He underwent treatment this year for this and other cancers. He fought hard and lived life to its fullest during this last year, singing and writing with his usual energy and talent. His music will live on in all of us. We will miss him dearly. Our condolences to his wife Phee and his entire family.

About Ken:

Ken Graydon’s roots are firmly planted in the west. His father was a working cowboy in the Seligman, Arizona area in the 20s. His young antics are the grist for some of Ken’s poems. Ken’s mother designed the family home, an adobe ranch house, in the San Joaquin Valley north of Bakersfield, California. It was built of adobe blocks made nearby. She filled it with Indian and Mexican pots and artifacts. This was Ken’s home where money was scarce and work was hard. The family raised cotton, olives and horses. Ken worked with his parents making it happen which left him with great respect for work and the people who do it. He turned his focus toward cowboys and men of the sea and railroad.

Ken learned as a young kid that he could sing. His mother, younger brother and he sang three part harmony while riding in the car. He learned later that he could write. His songs and poems reflect the wisdom and wit of men who made their way by the strength of their hands and keenly developed native intelligence.

Ken Graydon has come to represent finely crafted poetry and song, not in the sense of the number of CDs and books sold and top gigs on the circuit but rather in the deep respect people give his work. He’s set some California and Arizona history in riveting poems that capture the story better than any textbook can do. He’s told the story of his father’s antics as an Arizona working cowboy in the ‘20s.

“Singer, writer, historian and gentleman, Ken Graydon is one of my heroes and a genuine California folk music treasure.” Dave Stamey

Friday, July 22, 2011


A Few things to consider for the 2011 Encampment

Just a few words about changes to the Death Valley ‘49er Encampment this year. The National Park Service is in the process of a remodeling and upgrading the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. I am told that the Contractor is ahead of schedule! However it will not be ready for this years Encampment. Therefore, some of the events have been moved to other locations. Among them are; The Death Valley ‘49ers Invitational Western Art Show will take place on the lawn by the Basketball Court, with the Quick Draw taking place on the Basketball Court. The Patio Talks will be conducted on the Patio of the Borax Museum. Ted Faye will be showing videos in the evening there also. During the day, videos will be shown in the Marquez Room at the Furnace Creek Inn. This is also where Marvin Jensen’s History Program will be Friday morning.

Because the Temporary Visitor Center is next to the Furnace Creek Ranch entrance, the evening programs normally done at Ol’ Dinah will move to the Golf Course; the same location as the Hootenanny. We will meet the wagons and the riders when they arrive on the Date Grove Road.

Due to changes at Stovepipe Wells we will not have events there this year. However, the Membership Booth will be open. For those wishing a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere, Stovepipe wells is offering 2011 Death Valley ‘49er members discounts on meals, rooms and RV spaces during Encampment.

For current members who will receive a program in the mail, and those who will get one at the encampment, look closely to see how some events have moved to new locations and check the membership booth for any last minute changes.

This year we’ve revived our 4x4 trips into the backcountry, one of them a new adventurous tour to Echo Canyon! Be sure to check out the link for it on the home page.

I am looking forward to welcoming you all to the 2011 Encampment! See you there!

Jim Graves

President, 2011