Plains Folk

Plains Folk, a commentary devoted to life on the great plains of North America, is now a special weekly feature on Main Street. Written by Tom Isern of West Fargo, North Dakota, and read in newspapers across the region for years, Plains Folk venerates fall suppers and barn dances and reminds us that “more important to our thoughts than lines on a map are the essential characteristics of the region–the things that tell what the plains are, not just where they are.” You can hear Plains Folk once a week during Main Street, weekdays at 3 pm CT with a repeat at 7 pm CT.

To read more Plains Folk commentaries, click on the “archives” link.

Recent Shows

  • Song of Memory

    Spread before me, on the dining room table, are eighteen previously un-studied texts of that classic folksong, the anthem of the plains, “Little Old Sod Shanty on the Claim.” Call me a nerd, but this is a little exciting for me. I can now draw new some conclusions about the history of the song. All […]

  • Sharing Songs Across the Prairies

    New research convinces me now that “Little Old Sod Shanty on the Claim,” the prairie parody of Will Hays’s popular nineteenth-century ditty, “Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane,” deserves to be described as what I called it in my last essay–the anthem of the plains. By “new research” I refer to the possibilities inherent […]

  • Anthem of the Plains

    The great historian of country music in America has to be Bill Malone, who published the pioneering work in the field, Country Music U.S.A., in 1968. I just finished reading his new book of collected essays, Sing Me Back Home: Southern Roots and Country Music. One of Bill’s key interpretive points about country music is […]

  • The Regional Project

    A couple thousand times since 1983 I have opened a screen to compose an essay under the title, Plains Folk. I am thankful to the readers and listeners who have sustained the enterprise. I’d like to talk with you a little now as fellow people of the plains. I think the last composition you may […]

  • On the Level

    Living a semi-public life, I get a fair number of semi-personal questions as I travel about the region. Including the common query, are you retired yet? To which I reply, not hardly. Gimme another twenty years. Life has come to the point, however, where I have thoughts like, in my threescore and whatever, How many […]

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