- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - There’s no question that with its pioneers and settlers, cowboys and Indians, booms and busts, Western North Dakota has a story to tell that’s all its own.

But does it have a sound all its own?

If Williston folk singer/songwriter Keesha Renna is able to meet her Kickstarter goal of $3,000, we may just begin find out.

“Dakota Tales: A Musical Compilation” is the name of the project, an anthology that invites 12 area musicians to record original songs about the Bakken region.

“I want it to be a time capsule,” Renna said. “I would consider it folklore of North Dakota — different perspectives, different stories, different experiences… It could be any experience, but it has to be North Dakota-specific. I want to capture the people and tell a story — a well-rounded, holistic one.”



At first, finding collaborating artists proved challenging, but once the first couple came on board, the rest soon followed.

Experienced recording artists like country-folk singer/songwriter Jessie Veeder from Watford City and Cowboy Poetry legend D.W. Grothe from the Montana side came on board, and it wasn’t long before the rest fell into place, covering the whole of the MonDak with Nakoa Heavy Runner from New Town, Adam Taylor from Watford City and Wild Hands from Minot, just to name a few.

Renna, herself, is recording her first single, “Rig Up,” to be part of the compilation.

“It’s the story of a man who’s left his family to come out here to make some money, get a second chance,” Renna said. “He’s sending money home and dealing with his first North Dakota winter out on a rig questioning whether he made the right choice.”

The Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/1OTIR5V ) reports that Renna landed in Williston two years ago, having moved from Boise, Idaho where she attended Boise State University and worked as a music promoter for local bands and those passing through. She found herself craving the music scene she left behind until she wound up at open mic Tuesdays at No Place and immediately found “her people.”

“In the music industry, it’s all networking,” Renna said. “The collaboration in this town is impeccable… It’s a highly creative town.”

But just because Renna has found the ready, willing and able talent doesn’t mean “Dakota Tales” is sure to be released. Kickstarter projects are an all-or-nothing proposition.

Visitors to the Kickstarter page are encouraged to donate with free album copies, VIP admission to the album release party in March, a song written for and recorded by one of the artists on the anthology, and the biggest prize, a private barbecue concert with two of the artists in your own backyard with the lone stipulation being that backyard must be within 200 miles of Williston.

Renna hopes her faith in the vibrancy of the Bakken music scene will be enough to push the dial to $3,000 with demand to spare for a Dakota Tales, Vol. II.

“It is a big project, but if there’s a demand for a volume two though, absolutely,” Renna said. “There’s enough talent here, I know.”

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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