The Frontierado Holiday, coming up Friday, August 1st, is about celebrating the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality.
For reasonably authentic and affordable Faro and Chuck-A-Luck supplies for Frontierado get-togethers I often use River Junction Trade Company and others.
Sites like theirs will also sell plenty of other supplies that will suit your needs for making your deck or party room look like a Wild West saloon or casino. Clothing, saloon chairs, era-appropriate whiskey glasses, you name it. Continue reading
The latest Saga custom written for Frontierado, which is coming up Friday, August 2nd!
TOMAHAWK TAM – Tamara “Tomahawk Tam” Wise-Brosnan aka “The Houston Hellcat” led one of the most eventful and action-packed lives in the Old West.
Born in 1863 the ever-willful and rambunctious child ran away in a pouting huff from the westward-bound wagon train her family was traveling with in 1873. Elders from the Nevada Paiute Tribe which adopted her forever maintained that when they encountered the young lady in the desert she fearlessly walked up to them and told them she was hungry and inquired if they had any food to share with her.
Charmed by all this, the Paiute raised her as one of their own. By her teen years Tamara was a close follower of the outspoken Paiute woman Sarah Winnemucca aka Thocmentony aka Shell Flower. It was Sarah who introduced the young Tamara to Eleanor Dumont, the famous gambler/ gunslinger. Eleanor’s free spirit forever after served as an inspiration for the future legend.
When she was 15 in 1878 Tamara’s tribe left the reservation and found themselves in a conflict with the United States Army, the Bannock War (June-August).
The Paiute tribe under Chief Buffalo Horn could only muster around 500 warriors at the time and during one of the battles Tamara, wielding a rifle and a tomahawk, fought back against the attacking soldiers. From that day forward the newly rechristened “Tomahawk Tam” insisted on fighting alongside the men of her tribe. With her body-count increasing in every clash no one dared say her nay. Continue reading
Frontierado is on August 2nd, so two weeks from now blog posts related to that major holiday will wrap up for the year.
A neglected aspect of Wild West lore is the Alaskan Gold Rush. Klondike Kate was the only figure I’ve covered from the Yukon so it’s long past time for more. Think of dogsleds instead of stage coaches and instead of hot deserts, snow and temperatures so cold that whiskey freezes in the bottle. Think of winter storms of such magnitude that the entire city of Nome, AK was literally wiped out late in the Gold Rush. Boomtowns, gunslingers and gamblers are common to Gold Rushes in the frozen north AND in the continental U.S.
THE MONTANA KID – Dan Egan, before his Yukon fame, was a boxer during the dangerous years when the sport was illegal in many areas and boxing matches were subject to being raided by the police. He had only limited success and his career as a pugilist is distinguished mostly by his losses to THE Billy Hennesy.
Already called the Montana Kid, Egan lost to Hennesy in boxing matches from Leavenworth, KS to San Francisco, CA between 1888 and 1892. Beginning around 1896 the Kid was in Alaska and made a name for himself smuggling whiskey from Juneau and Skagway to Dawson via his notoriously fast dogsled team.
Egan became a legend from his escapades eluding Canadian Mounties and American authorities with his ever-expanding inventory of smuggled goods. The Montana Kid would spend his down time between smuggling runs drinking and gambling in the many saloons in the Gold Rush boomtowns.
When he was on a winning streak Egan would reward his sled-dogs with prime steaks from the best available restaurants.
This amiable but deadly man was a frequent participant in the marathon, multiple-day card games held at the Bank Saloon, along with equally colorful Klondike figures like Silent Sam Bonnifield, One-Eyed Riley, and the gambler known only as the Oregon Jew. Continue reading
It’s no secret that Balladeer’s Blog is a Lifestyle Brand. (I’m KIDDING!) At any rate the Frontierado Holiday will be here Friday August 2nd so before you know it, it will all be over for another year. Here’s another brand of booze that I like to drink either straight or mixed in my Cactus Jacks: Devils River (1840).
This Texas Bourbon is created with water drawn from Devils River (Devils is plural, so no apostrophe) and is 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley. As usual I prefer Barrel Strength – I’m slamming down a 117 Proof bottle as I type – but naturally you’re free to make your own selections.
Remember, to be a Frontierado Whiskey it’s got to have incomparable taste PLUS be strong enough to let you blow flies out of the air right after you take a drink. Continue reading
The Frontierado Holiday is coming up on August 2nd. As always, the holiday is about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality.
FARMER PEEL – Gunslinger Langford Peel got the nickname “Farmer” Peel through the same sense of irony that earns some tall people the nickname Shorty and some fat people the nickname Slim. Peel was always well-dressed and smooth-tongued and the furthest thing away from the image of a Farmer that you could get among the high-stakes gambler/ gunslingers of his era.
Peel was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1829 but his family moved to America during his childhood. In 1841, at the age of 12, Peel was accepted into the U.S. Army as a bugler. Buglers and drummers could indeed be enlisted into the service as company musicians with their parents’ consent. Education in their intended musical instruments was part of the bargain.
David Robb would have made a great Farmer Peel
The young Langford Peel was shipped off to Governor’s Island, New York and then Carlisle Barracks, PA for his military and musical training. After 13 months he was discharged at Carlisle on October 24th, 1842 but chose to reenlist. Come 1845 the 16 year old blonde was with Company B of the First Regiment of U.S. Dragoons at Fort Atkinson, IA. (Yes, this would indeed have made him the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B when he was first posted there. I’m kidding!)
By the spring of 1846 Peel got his first action against Native Americans, bugling and fighting for his unit in what is now Pawnee County, Coon Creek and along the Arkansas River. Already skilled at gunplay, Langford notched 3 kills in his first battle and became even deadlier in the future, seeing a great deal of action against the Great Plains and Mojave Desert Tribes. Continue reading
Diamondfield Jack Davis
FRONTIERADO IS COMING UP ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 2nd.
DIAMONDFIELD JACK – Born Jackson Lee Davis this neglected gunslinger is a colorful example of the old west’s gunmen for hire. He’s also a poster child for the confusion and conflicting information that surrounds those figures. Various sources place his year of birth anywhere from 1864 to the mid 1870s and in several different states. Even the story behind his nickname is disputed as I’ll deal with in detail as we go along.
Diamondfield Jack is noted for the shotgun he carried in a holster on his back, like a quiver of arrows carried by an archer. He also sported three 45 caliber pistols in holsters and coatpockets and had a Bowie knife strapped to his leg.
By the late 1880s Jack was in Colorado during the Silver Boom. In return for various killings and acts of violent intimidation he performed for the railroad tycoons and the silver mine owners he was partially paid with several uncut diamonds. Later Jack’s own boasting and the usual embellishments that accompany men like him exaggerated the story to the point where he supposedly owned a hidden diamond mine near the Idaho/Nevada border. Jack cultivated the story by forever after carrying around a pocketful of uncut diamonds.
In 1892 Diamondfield Jack was in Silver City, Idaho, working for the Black Jack Mine’s owners to try to shoot down chances of the miners organizing a union. After a time he was wanted for questioning in some killings in the area and laid low in the mountains for several months. Continue reading
GANG OF ROSES (2003) – The annual Frontierado Holiday, coming August 2nd this year, is about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality. So is the movie Gang of Roses, which is why I cannot believe the merciless reviews this fun, harmless, escapist movie has gotten. I find it far better than the similar Bad Girls.
I eat, sleep and breathe Bad Movies, and this was a case where I settled in happily expecting to see an all-time disaster based on the reviews that Gang of Roses gets and its 2.3 rating at IMDb. Instead I saw a movie that I think deserves AT WORST a 5 or 6 rating. Maybe a 7 if you’re into Spaghetti Westerns.
Years ago I gave a glowing review to Posse (1993) starring Mario Van Peebles and, significantly Gang of Roses features a cameo by Van Peebles – dressed as Jesse Lee from Posse – giving an assist to the all-female title gang. He then says “Good luck, ladies” and rides off. (For obvious legal and financial reasons he’s listed in the credits simply as “Cameo” instead of Jesse Lee.)
I mention this because many Western fans told me they would have liked Posse if not for the underlying political message. Well, in Gang of Roses you get all the fun action of Posse with NO politics at all.
Let me give a quick synopsis, then take a look at the main characters, following which I will state my counter-arguments to the most frequent criticisms leveled at this female-led Western:
The gunslinging gang of the title is made up of four black women and one Asian woman. We’re told that after robbing a few dozen banks the gang split up and its members went their separate ways. When the sister of the Roses’ leader gets murdered during an outlaw gang’s crime spree that leader gets the band together again to seek vengeance and a hidden fortune in gold and jewels.
The main characters: Continue reading