Wes Houp’s songs of conquest and wonder

Wes Houp on Summer2012 paddle to Tyrone.

My light-bulb moment for gentrification came when reading Neil Smith’s 1996 Revanchist City. Smith, who by that time had spent two decades tracking the process in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City, made direct historical links between the olden frontier and what he called the new urban frontier.

As it turns out, my reading of Smith overlapped with a three-year stretch of paddles with friends down the mainstem of the Kentucky River, where the Revolutionary War frontier of Dan’l Boone and Simon Girty regularly intruded. As my research led me into discovery doctrines and shingled land claims, it was hard not to see the connections Smith made between historic-western and contemporary-urban pioneering.

One of my companions on these river trips was High Bridge native Wes Houp, who in addition to writing some great travelogues of our floating exploits, also composed a few songs along the way. Like all great works of art, “Up on Chenoca” and “Henderson’s Folly” inhabit multiple centuries at once. In episodes five and six, I used them for just this purpose.

Listen to these two songs here, along with a more recent tune by Houp, “Where do the good times go,” that appeared in episode five.

“Up on Chenoca”

“Henderson’s Folly”

“Where do the good times go”

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