A distant relative of premiere nineteenth-century American mountain man, Jim Bridger, Bobby Bridger began work on his epic trilogy A Ballad of the West over four decades ago. Since 1974 Bridger has traveled the globe performing this historical epic as a one-man show to audiences in America, Canada, Europe, Australia and Russia.
Bridger began his professional recording career in 1967 in Nashville recording for Monument and Nugget Records before signing with RCA Records in Hollywood in 1970. Bridger wrote, produced and recorded two albums for RCA - Merging Of Our Minds and And I Wanted To Sing For The People - before parting ways with the label in 1973. Since the early 1980s Bridger has recorded Heal In The Wisdom, Songs From A Ballad of the West, and the four-disc boxed set, A Ballad of the West, on his own Golden Egg Records.
Bridger has performed twice on PBS's Austin City Limits, twice on C-Span/Booknotes, once on ABC's Good Morning America, on A & E, on National Public Radio and on the Australian Broadcasting Company. He performed on twenty-eight consecutive Kerrville Folk Festivals, served on the festival's board of directors from 1976-2002, and on the board of advisors since 2002. Bridger suggested the popular "Ballad Tree" to Kerrville Folk Festival director, Rod Kennedy, and wrote the festival's anthem, Heal In The Wisdom.
Bridger has been an artist-in-residence at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and was the first poet/balladeer-in-residence at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut and the John G. Neihardt Center in Bancroft, Nebraska. Under the tutelage of Broadway and Hollywood legend, Dale Wasserman (Man of LaMancha, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), Bridger created the role of "the Drifter" in the musical comedy Shakespeare and The Indians and from 1982-'83 appeared in over 100 performances of the renown playwright's show.
Working with the production team developing the Native American classic, Black Elk Speaks for stage and film, Bridger served on the board of directors of the American Indian Theater Company from 1982-1987 and was featured with David Carradine and Will Sampson in a Native American production of Black Elk Speaks in Tulsa in 1984. Bridger was also on the National Theater Institute faculty from 1984-'87 and in 1984 and 1985 N.T.I. produced an unprecedented two consecutive workshop productions of Bridger's epic space fantasy Aldebaran and The Falling Star.
Returning from landmark tours of Australia in 1986 and the Soviet Union in 1987, Bridger was invited to Oxford University in 1988 to perform Heal In The Wisdom for closing ceremonies of the First Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders On Human Survival; featured presenters were the Dali Lama, Mother Teresa, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Carl Sagan. From 1988-1995 full-company outdoor musical productions of Part One of A Ballad of the West, Seekers of the Fleece, featuring many stars such as Tony-nominated, Joe Sears (playwright/star of the Greater Tuna trilogy of comedies) and Wes Studi (Dances With Wolves, Last of the Mochicans, Geronimo and The New World) were produced in Wyoming. In 1996 Bridger returned his focus to performing his one-man shows around the American west. Bridger's trilogy of one man shows of A Ballad of the West ran in repertory each summer at Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming from 2000-2003.
Bridger is the author of a hardback and paperback edition of A Ballad of the West, the award-winning, Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull: Inventing The Wild West, and the autobiography, Bridger, and Where the Tall Grass Grows: Becoming Indigenous and the Mythological Legacy of the American West, and contributed essays to anthologies on American western literary giants John G. Neihardt (A Sender of Words) and Frank Waters (Frank Waters: Man and Mystic). From 2003-04 Bridger served as a poetry judge for the Western Writers of America's prestigious "Silver Spur" award. Bridger is the host of The Tradition Lives On, a history of ballads produced by textbook publisher Holt, Rinehart Winston as a section of The Elements of Literature, an experimental global electronic textbook focusing on the language arts. In 2002 Bridger began teaching the interdisciplinary freshman seminar course, The Environmental Legacy of the American West - based in part on A Ballad of the West - at the University of Texas/Austin.
In November 2008 Bobby Bridger, Nick Meagher, and London-based Qube Pictures released a
four-disc DVD production of Bobby’s concert version of A Ballad of the West, featuring stellar
musicians, John Inmon, Bob Livingston, Darcie Deville, and Steve Samuel. The concerts were
filmed with four cameras and shot on location in May 2004 at the majestic T-Bone Ranch in
Antonito, Colorado. Bridger and director Peter Wilson spent four years editing the footage.
The boxed set also contains the hour-long documentary, Quest of an Epic Balladeer, based
on Bridger’s life and work and features interviews with legendary studio musician and record
producer, Fred Carter, Jr., author and screenwriter, Max Evans, renowned playwright and
screenwriter, Dale Wasserman, author and philosopher, Vine Deloria, Jr., musician and film
actor, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, renowned composer, David Amram, playwright and actor,
Joe Sears, musician and record producer, John Inmon, sound engineer, Jim Inmon, singer/
songwriter, Bob Livingston, music journalist, John T. Davis, Bridger’s wife, Melissa Tatum, and
son, Gabriel Bridger Durham. The DVD of A Ballad of the West was a finalist for the Western
Writers of America’s 2009 prestigious Silver Spur award for “Best Documentary Film”.
Click here to learn more about Bobby's life in chronological order.
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