The story of The Tumbleweeds
The Tumbleweeds are a guitar playing cowboy ensemble comprised of Corning natives, Bryan, BJ and Bart Lanahan. The father and two-son trio was formed to perform at The Rockwell Museum's annual fall fundraising event - to perform songs about the American West. The harmonious cowboy songs of the American West invite the audience to travel back in time during each performance.
Behind the cowboy dress and microphones, audiences also have the opportunity to peek into a window of their family dynamic - a dynamic that exemplifies the American Cowboy - independent, loyal, hard working, honest... and most evident, chivalrous. The Tumbleweeds' songs and commentary stay true to those characteristics and tell the story of the American cowboy.
The Lanahan family has been making music for as long as they can remember. Born and raised in Corning, Bryan Sr. began his love for music in high school. He sang in the Corning Free Academy chorus as well as a barber shop quartet. While attending college in Chicago in the mid-1960's, Bryan and two of his friends sang folk songs and called their group "The Random Samplers." By the mid-1970's, Bryan began singing Irish songs with friends for St. Patrick's Day parties and celebrations. Over 30 years later, Bryan still performs Irish tunes and is best known for his performances with "The Irish Trubadors."
Of course, Bryan and his wife Adele were committed to introducing music into all five of their children's lives; and as a result, all five learned Suzuki piano. When asked how he influenced his children's talent in music, Bryan responded:
"I practiced and learned with them until they got too good for me to keep up. In high school, the boys picked up guitar, bass and drums and formed a band. They carried this through college life."
Music continued to play a part in the Lanahans' lives. BJ and Bart live close enough to be able to get together and practice, so it was easy to arrange the cowboy ensemble. Rehearsals take place mostly at the family lake house, but they confess that their best practice is in Bart's basement in Rochester.
"The best thing about performing as a family is being together. The boys are creative musicians, better than I. It's great to turn out a good sound plus dress up in cowboy hats, shirts and boots. We look great! And then to perform for family and friends who actually applaud," says Bryan.
So what was the motivation in performing cowboy songs?
"I've loved Western Art and The Rockwell Museum virtually my whole life. Cowboy songs were a natural fit, especially the songs of the Sons of the Pioneers. This group took cowboy songs to a new level, with their great lyrics and complex harmonies, including yodeling in harmony. My boys joined me in the challenge of replicating their sound," says Bryan.
Having The Tumbleweeds as part of Museum programming is the perfect marriage to the Museum's collection of American Western and Native American art; and during performance, brings the art to life. Bryan Sr. is a long-time friend of The Rockwell Museum and served on the Board of Trustees from 2004 - 2009.
"The Museum has been so lucky to have the support of Bryan, Adele and his family throughout the years. It is just like Bryan to stay committed to our Museum by engaging the next generation. He and his sons bring a unique dynamic to our programs," says Kristin Swain, Executive Director.
Be sure not to miss this performance and connect with the Lanahan family and their beautiful harmonies.