by Sam Payne
All during the first weeks of August, the LDS Motion Picture Studio has been shooting a film about the Mormon Battalion. When finished, the film will be shown in the visitors center at the San Diego temple. The project incorporated some traditional music (one of the characters in the film is a fiddler), and so music producer Tyler Castleton called Ryan Shupe and asked him if he’d write a few fiddle bits that could be inserted into the piece. Brother Shupe assembled an old-time band that included himself on fiddle, Bart Olson (drummer for Shupe’s remarkable “Rubberband”) on the “bones” (an old-time percussion instrument once made of the rib bones of cattle), Mike Iverson (a life-long player and expert on traditional music) on banjo, and myself on harmonica.
We had planned to do our work in the confines of a recording studio, but to our delight, we got to spend a day on set as well. Here’s a photo of us, along with Andrew Veenstra (far left), the actor who played the young fiddler (Andrew’s role is central to the film), and Russ Kendall, who has done work both behind and in front of the camera on many, many projects. Here, Brother Kendall plays Brigham Young.
We were working on the lot of the LDS Motion Picture Studio, but even surrounded by the technological accoutrements of film-making, we found our imaginations carried away by the experiences of our forbears. Making music after a hard day on the trail, or simply after a day filled with the arduous tasks ensuring surviving at Winter Quarters, must have been a sweet and joyful release from them.
As I came back to my desk at YLDSR, I found myself filled with thoughts of the functions of music – functions that have deep and ancient roots. Was there ever a time when music hasn’t uplifted, comforted, and inspired people? What a gift it remains for us, to continue to be able to bring the music of our Latter-day Saint friends into the homes of people all over the globe. May music continue to be a sweet and joyful release, whatever arduous tasks are associated with surviving in your corner of the world. And thanks for listening.