Road to Valhalla Part 1 16-01-2014 admin 0 (Deb) Hi. I’m Deb Bisel, your co-host for Around Kansas. Welcome to the Fox Theatre in lovely downtown Newton, Kansas where we are about to premiere the documentary, The Road to Valhalla. Stay with us. We’ll be right back. Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission the Soybean Checkoff Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers. (Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas. I’m Deb Bisel. We’re here in the historic Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas, one that was rebuilt after a couple of times and with me today is my good friend Ken Spurgeon and he is the filmmaker and genius behind the Road to Valhalla, another premier tonight in Lawrence and we’re just so excited to have you with us. So tell us, Ken, about how you came to make these three films on the Civil War in Kansas. (Male) Well it’s a long story, but just first of all, love of Kansas history and when we made the first film, which was Touched by Fire, which kind of focuses on Bleeding, Kansas, I didn’t think at that point there’d be a trilogy, but that story takes place in 1854 to 1861 and it was our first effort. It was a good effort, but, you know, there was things that could be improved upon, then we focused in the second one on the Lawrence Raid in particular, Bloody Dawn based on Tom Goodrich’s book and then this film is kind of an encapsulation of everything, the whole Kansas-Missouri story from the beginning of the war certainly until the end of the war and except this time I didn’t want to focus just on the bloodshed. I wanted to focus on the total outcome and restoration and reunion as well. (Deb) Well it’s a phenomenal film and a real labor of love. I’m so pleased to have been a part of it and you’ve got people who have been involved from the very beginning, so a lot of other people that love Kansas history as well. (Male) Yes. Lots of people like yourself and many other historians have been involved and, you know, we’re a not for profit, so we’ve had lots of teachers and educators. Our narrator, Buck Taylor, who’s a famous, to me, a famous character actor who’s been involved through Blood Dawn and this film and then people like Tim Ruse, who’s with the Constitution Hall in Lecompton, so it’s been a labor of love not just for me, but I think it’s been a labor of love for a lot of people who love Kansas history quite honestly and we just think, all of us think, that these are important stories and I know you do too and, I mean, that’s the connecting piece between us all is that we believe they’re important and that they need to be told and who else is gonna tell them if we don’t tell them and have a passion for them? A lot of us say we want our students and children to know about it, but then the responsibility for that falls upon all of us and, so, I think that’s what motivates me. (Deb) Now if folks don’t get to one of the premieres or one of the public showings, how can they get these films? (Male) Well they can go to www.lonechimneyfilms.org and that’s lonechimneyfilms.org. The films will be on some form of PBS, whether they’re a broader audience or PBS regional stations, but they’re coming, but at lonechimneyfilms.org, they can buy them in our store and the DVD’s will be out soon, probably spring of 2014. (Deb) Well they’re a great tool for educators, but it’s a great thing for the family to just have and watch because I’m sure the family will enjoy it as much as a classroom, so it’s just again, a wonderful labor of love and such an incredible effort by so many people and just kudos, good job, once more. (Male) Thank you very much. (Deb) We’re so, so thrilled to be a part of it and so thrilled to have so many great interviews with the people that are involved, so stay tuned. We’ve got a lot more to come with the Road to Valhalla. (Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas. I’m Deb Bisel and with me is Jed Marrow. Jed, it’s so good to see you. (Male) Nice to be here. Thank you. (Deb) And Jed has composed some really wonderful, original music for The Road to Valhalla and you also did original music in the second of this trilogy, Bloody Dawn. In fact, Bloody Friday, is that the name of it? (Male) I call the song One Bloody Friday. (Deb) Oh, man it’s haunting. It’s wonderful. (Male) Thanks. (Deb) So tell me how you came to be involved with this and just working with Ken Spurgeon. (Male) I make my living at the Irish and Scottish festivals. I was doing a festival in Kansas City, Kansas and ran into some folks that are connected to the Lone Chimney Films and I had written a song that kind of poked fun at John Brown from the Confederate perspective after reading an editorial from a pretty popular writer in those days and the rest is history. They thought it was funny and invited me to participate. (Deb) It’s some wonderful history. So when you take historic events like the Civil War in Kansas and create songs, what are you trying to do with that? (Male) That’s a good question. In this case, I worked with the filmmaker Ken Spurgeon who talked a lot about what he was thinking about and how we wanted to develop the film and I asked what books he was reading and that he was basing it on, and I read those books and we talked more about the ideas, things that he wanted to highlight in the film and I told him my ideas for songs and we developed those and went off and wrote a bunch of songs. (Deb) Now one of the things that I believe you have a real gift for is singing. I really appreciate being a historian and connecting to people the way I do in history, I think you do the same thing with your songs. You bring out those poignant, very human moments and this, you know, great, grand saga that was the Civil War, but they’re very personal moments within that war. (Male) As a songwriter, that’s what appeals to me. You know the history is the backdrop as far as I’m concerned. (Deb) Right. (Male) It’s the human story that appeals to me and that’s why I write those songs. We talked about the Bloody Dawn. In that one, Ken asked me about writing a song. I said, Well how should I tell a song like that? How can I tell that story? He said write it from Quantrill’s perspective, so when I read your book, as a matter of fact, I looked for things that Quantrill was noted for saying and I pulled out some of those quotes. Leave no stone unturned. Let’s get these houses burned. We’re gonna have one bloody Friday. You know all of these quotes that I found in there, I just looked for the rhyme in those phrases and found a way to fit those into a song. (Deb) So what are you most proud of or pleased with this film and what you did? (Male) Well I loved the theme song Shine’s Like Gold. (Deb) It is wonderful, it’s wonderful. (Male) And that song just kind of focuses in the subject of the title, where did the movie come from and it comes from the quote from the North Carolina soldier saying that he looked forward to the reunion in Valhalla where he’d meet and greet all of his comrades, you know, friend and foe and, so, that was the whole focus of the song. (Deb) Well it’s a wonderful job, just a wonderful job and Jed is so talented and I’ve got to tell people, I hope this airs before Christmas because you’ve got to get the Banjos League Heard on High. It is my mission to get everybody in America to hear and in Europe, we don’t want to discriminate to hear Banjos We have Heard on High. (Male) That’s a noble mission. (Deb) Jed, thank you so much. (Male) Thank you. (Deb) Wonderful having you with us. We’ll be right back. (Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas. I’m Deb Bisel, your co-host and I could not be more thrilled than to be sitting here with Buck Taylor. This was one of my first crushes, so, you know, the great thing about being a media person is you get to meet all these people you’ve admired for so long and Buck has a starring role and is narrator of the documentary film, Road to Valhalla and, Buck, it’s just great to have you with us. (Male) Thank you, Deb. Thank you for having me on your show and I’m pleased to be in Kansas, a place that’s dear to my heart because if there wasn’t a Dodge City, there probably would have never been a Gunsmoke, which I was apart of for a long time. (Deb) Everybody watching, I know all of our viewers of Around Kansas know exactly who Buck Taylor is, Newly for years on Gunsmoke and then, of course, a very successful career in so many things, art, rodeo, you do it all, a Renaissance man. (Male) Yes, I try to. I’m an aging Newly, but I love history. I love our American west. I love our American cowboy way of life. I ranch in Texas and rodeo a lot, as much as I can. I’m a team roper, but I love history and this movie, Road to Valhalla is about Kansas history, in particular, and Missouri and if I can say something about the filmmaker Ken Spurgeon. (Deb) Isn’t he wonderful? (Male) He is awesome. I met him years ago and I’ve been a fan of his ever since and he’s used me as a narrator and as an actor, but I want to equate two things that I thought about tonight as I was in the car riding here with Ken, something some student asked him or someone, you know, Why do you like to do this and why do you do this? And I flashed back to Gunsmoke and Milburn Stone, who was born and raised in Burton, Kansas and in Gunsmoke, he was the historian. He was the guy that made Gunsmoke as accurate as possible, even though we had mountains in the background, forget about that, but he was operating on a guy and he had this scalpel in his hand and before he went to operating, they said, Action, he went, Woo, woo, wait a minute. He said to the director, he said, This scalpel is like 1927. He said, This is supposed to be 1876. The director said, Milburn, who’s gonna know the difference? Two or three people? He said, If we’re that close, let’s make it right, and that’s what Ken Spurgeon reminds me of because his answer was, Why do you do this? And he says, Because I care. I mean what a cool thing to say and what a neat thing. It must be part of Kansas to say that. (Deb) It is. (Male) You know and Kansas, the heartland, man, it doesn’t get any better than this. Dodge City was the cowboy capital of the world, you know, the just gives me goose bumps and like I said, I’m not being corney or anything like that. Milburn was so proud of his heritage and I was so proud to be a part of Gunsmoke and all that and now I’m part of this and I’m beside myself. (Deb) Well I’m beside myself to be here with you and I have to tell you, I’m co-founder of the Kansas Hall of Fame and our first class of Laureates 2011, I campaigned long and hard to get James Arness, Marshall Matt Dillon as portrayed by James Arness and he knew that, right before he died, he knew that he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and he was so pleased and sent a very nice letter and, but the world knows America because of Gunsmoke and what a wonderful ambassador that was. I mean it’s all about community and honestly and decency and taking care of one another and the values are wonderful. (Male) I agree. I’ve run across a lot of people in my travels, in my art shows that I go to. I just came from Silver Dollar City. For six weeks I was there and they are huge Gunsmoke fans to this day, fifty-eight years it’s been on all together and people constantly tell me, they say, You know the shows were good shows. Good guys won, bad guys lost, very simple, but it was a great way to watch and learn and it’s rubbed off. I don’t know how many police officers have said, You know, when I was a kid, I watched Matt Dillon and I became a police officer because of him and his integrity and all that. (Deb) What a legacy. (Male) I mean I’ve got to pinch myself. I thought 1975 when they canceled it, you know, I said, Well it was great. I was on it eight years. It was awesome, you know, I’m gonna stay with my painting, my water colors and all that. It was fun. To this day, now there’s little kids this big, of course, they don’t know who I am, but I show them a picture of me, they say, Oh, that guy? No, you’re not that guy, are you? But anyway, it’s still running. It’s still rolling. It’s gosh, it’s something else. (Deb) We’re gonna be right back with more with Buck Taylor. (Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas. With me is Buck Taylor and I just couldn’t be more thrilled. Buck, let’s talk about the west and I think there are people, especially in the eastern part of Kansas that tend to forget that they are part of the west, but Kansas, in my mind, defined the west and what do you think about that? (Male) What do I think about it? I think about the wide open plains of western Kansas, thousands of square miles of prairie grass, hundreds of thousands of buffalo, it’s dang sure the west and it’s part of our western, cowboy life because as you know, the buffalo hunters came, evolving out of that, the cattle came, the railroad came, you know, one thing lead to another and it’s a beautiful history. I didn’t tell you this, but from here, along with Ken Spurgeon, we’re filming an introduction to the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City. (Deb) Great. (Male) I narrated and I also performed in the beginning of it, in other words, I ride in on a horse and I say, you know, you may remember me as Newly on Gunsmoke and so forth and so forth, you know, Matt Dillon, Marshall Dillon, Miss Kitty and all, we brought Dodge City and the west, but the Dodge City that you all know on television was a lot different from the real Dodge City and I’m gonna tell you about what really happened in Dodge City and it’s a neat script that they have and I narrate and I come and go in different parts, but it’s just for the museum. It’s things I never really knew about as far as the history of Dodge City, the railroads, the buffalo hunters and all and I think people enjoy when they go visit Boot Hill Museum, they get me as kind of an actor type of guy, you know, not a historian, but certainly Dodge City was a part of my life in the film and then we show you the real Dodge City. (Deb) Now you had a very unique upbringing as the child of Dub Taylor. (Male) Yes, ma’am. (Deb) You grew up knowing, was it Chill Wills you said that was holding your hands when you took your first steps? (Deb) No, he didn’t have to hold my hand because I took my first steps to Chill Wills. (Deb) What an incredible story. So you were so blessed to grow up with that group of actors that brought the west to every home in America and around the world and what an incredible childhood. (Male) I’ll tell you something else that I like as well, Glenn Strange who played Sam the Bartender on Gunsmoke, a big, tall guy and friend of John Wayne. John Wayne told Jim Arness, Hire him, he’s our friend, you know, they were all buddies together. Well I roomed with Glenn Strange and we toured around like Doc and Festus were the A-Team. They went to all the big rodeos and small rodeos too. We went to ones they didn’t go to, Phillipsburg, Kansas for one. (Deb) Oh, wonderful. (Male) I started singing and everybody got up and left. I looked back at Glenn Strange and he said, Buck, there’s a tornado warning. We all got to get out of here. But what I was trying to say, Glenn Strange worked a one-o-one ranch, Miller’s one-o-one in Ponca City, came to Hollywood with Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Will Rogers and those guys and I would pick his brain to find out. He touched the west. (Deb) Oh, no kidding. (Male) And I’ve had a great life and this is maybe the best part of it right now. (Deb) That’s wonderful. (Male) I mean that. Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.