The Red Hills Music Collective

Foster's Satchel

The Red Hills Music Collective

Greetings From Lawrence County Illinois

Out Now!

It all began with a simple question. What does Lawrence County Illinois sound like? What if a group of friends and musicians tried to plug into the vibrations of this particular place in south-central Illinois on the Indiana border, and it's unique feel and rhythms? What if we listened closely to trains, pump jacks, tractors, combines, crickets, songbirds, local radio, hard rainstorms, the rushing of the Wabash and Embarras rivers, the soft, gentle quiet of countless rural locations and more. What might come out musically?

Early in the summer of 2020 the challenge was on, but Covid-19 presented incredible hurdles. We couldn’t get together and write songs in person, or work out the arrangements and record them together in a studio. Some of the players didn’t even live in Lawrence County anymore, they’d just grown up there and in many ways it still felt like home. Conversations started happening. Emails flew back and forth. The players decided to record at home, wherever they were, using Garageband and other recording software and send their parts back and forth to each other. And we included a few good friends outside the region who had interest in the project and wanted to contribute. The result is Greetings From Lawrence County Illinois.

What does Lawrence County sound like and feel like to us? Earthy, rural and workingman. Genuine without pretension. Proud. Neighbor helping neighbor. A place where you want to take a nice vacation occasionally out of the county but are always glad to get home. Where the last names of people you went to school with are found on old markers at numerous cemeteries. Where faith is a huge part of the equation, even if you’re not that religious. Where you can raise a family and wouldn’t mind your bones spending eternity in that familiar clay soil. Where the flow is different from adjoining counties like Wabash, Richland or Knox in ways you can’t quite articulate or explain.

We hope listeners enjoy the intent and scope of the project. And heck, we also hope the collective keeps active and attracts new members. There’s a lot more music to draw from Lawrence County. Give it a listen and start generating your own ideas for music and other artforms. Inspiration for ten thousand songs, poems, paintings and much more await discovery at the Lawrence County Historical Society. We bet you’ve got a few in you. C’mon, jump on board with us and let’s see what happens next!

Foster's Satchel

The Unknown Songs of Stephen Foster

Release Date: Delayed by Covid like everything else . . .

"He was a rockin' muthahumper, Stephen Foster." Jerry Lee Lewis

Featured prominently in the Ken Burns PBS documentary “Country Music” Stephen Foster is arguably America’s most important songwriter, his legacy virtually embedded in the cultural DNA of the country. Foster composed over two hundred songs between 1847 and 1864 yet few know more than a handful of his most enduring (Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races, Beautiful Dreamer, Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair, Old Folks At Home/Suwannee River, My Old Kentucky Home) and many are not aware Foster wrote these inexplicably familiar melodies.

Foster’s Satchel takes a deep dive into his obscure and complex legacy, mining unknown songs from his entire catalog to illuminate Foster’s life and the state of America as his writing progressed, from his optimistic and successful early years to wrestling with psychological survival at the end of his life with the country mired in civil war. The band has taken a Mermaid Avenue approach (the partnership between Wilco and Billy Bragg with Woody Guthrie’s unknown writing), focusing on his often evocative lyrics and re-arranging music for modern ears to reveal one of the most remarkable and unknown stories in American music.

Foster’s Satchel includes accomplished historical musicians Stace England and Charlie Tabing from Stace England and the Salt Kings (Greetings from Cairo, Illinois, The Amazing Oscar Micheaux), Jake and Mary Deleonardis from St. Louis based May Day Orchestra and Beth Koehler, back up singer for alt country legend Jason Ringenberg. Their show takes listeners on a journey through Foster’s unlikely triumph and ultimate heartbreak. Multimedia projections of photographs and original sheet music give audiences additional insight into Foster’s life.

Stephen Foster died in 1864 at age thirty seven with thirty eight cents in his pocket, in many ways the first person crushed by the developing music industry. His songs are all in the public domain, but if his heirs had retained publishing rights some insiders value his catalog at one hundred million dollars today. His wife received slightly over four thousand dollars from his work after his death.

"Top Ten Albums of 2005"

Greil Marcus, The Village Voice Paz and Jop Poll

"Four Stars"

Uncut Magazine

Screen Syndicate

Interested in more Lawrence County influenced music? Listen to the debut record from our side project, Screen Syndicate, heavily based on the old Lawrenceville Drive In from the 1970's.

Stephen Foster