Let loose…

The world’s full of mustangs
and stray cats
and untamed
men lighting smokes and making promises to you

You show them the fences
the spots that need mending
and the holes in the trees
in case you need to break through

Let loose.

Let loose.

You’re tangled and unbraided
just like the mane
of that pony who taught you
about getting up again

And bones they might break
but words have a way of
screaming out secrets
only that pony ever knew

Let loose.

Let loose.

Let loose the horses girl
Let go of the reigns
It’s no use being lost this way
though I know you love to roam…
Let that horse bring you home

You forgot
All those things you said you’d do
When you’re lost
and no one’s coming for you…

Let loose.

Let loose.

Let loose the horses girl
Let go of the reigns
It’s no use being lost this way
though I know you love to roam…

Let that horse bring you home.

Sunday Column: The miles together

photo-64We’re leaving Nevada this morning, saying goodbye to our first National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. I’m sitting in my hotel room at the Rodeway Inn listening to sound of my husband’s breath rise and fall as he sleeps, cars swooshing past this door on their way to  church or the grocery store down the road, and my fingers clicking on the keys, procrastinating the task of packing up the clothes draped over chairs and tables, cords and papers, CDs, toothbrushes and shampoo bottles and to-go coffee mugs strewn about before we hit the road again.

In a few minutes Husband will wake up and jump in the shower. If I can get it together, we’ll be out of here in an hour or so, turning up the radio and pointing the car back toward a beautiful part of Idaho we look forward to seeing in the daylight. When we get hungry we’ll pull in the next town, head toward Main Street and hope for one of those really great diners, the ones where the old folks go after church. He’ll order chicken-fried-steak and I’ll have a burger and we’ll sit and chat and notice things about this place that we like.


When the miles start to drag out before us we might start making plans for the barn or the unfinished house. Or I might wonder out loud what sort of animal I was in a past life. A Canadian goose, I’ll say, like the two who fly away together and return to the stock dam every spring…

In my life I have been given a solid traveling companion (and this week, he’s made a pretty great purse holder, guitar carrier, outfit chooser, audience member, and therapist too). We’ve  put on a lot of miles together, back and forth and up and down and home again.


We have three more days on the road–a yet to be determined stop tonight when we’re road weary and one in White Sulphur Springs, Montana on Monday before heading back home. These miles could be daunting, but they’ve never been for me as long as we’re taking them together, sitting close, moving forward and wondering about things…

Coming Home: Stretch of road brings back memories
by Jessie Veeder
Fargo Forum

Diners, Fenceposts and Cowboy Poems: Road Trip to Elko

1,037 miles, 16 hours, seven thousand fenceposts, one overnight snowstorm,

two or three little hometown diner meals

one night in a Comfort Inn in Idaho Falls and a couple of tourist moments later…

Twin Falls, ID

and we finally made it all the way down to Elko, Nevada from the great white north to participate in the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

There’s cowboys here from all over the country, but it turns out I’m the only one with red scoria still stuck to her car and a good ‘ol Northern, kinda sounds like you’re from Canada, accent.

And I’m the one hanging around with this guy.

I can’t tell you what it means to be here surrounded by all of this talent, all of these stories of ranch living, all of these expressive people in hats and boots and some really great mustaches. Last night I met a hat maker with a leather-tooled neck tie and vowed I’d find one and start spreading his style-sense back in North Dakota.

Would it be weird if I wore a leather tooled neck tie?


Anyway, last night was my first gig at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Martha Scanlan sound check

I took the stage at the Convention Center for a show called “Straddling the Line,” with landscape storyteller and accomplished musician Martha Scanlan and sage rocker and cowboy Brenn Hill.  In its 30th Anniversary the gathering is focused on the next generation of cowboy poets, singers and storytellers so we each took our turn talking and singing about what it means to be out here loving our land and the work we do.

Watch the full concert here: 

The audience and the people here are warm and inviting. We’re from all over the country, but we have things in common and so much to learn from one another. Wednesday night we rolled into town and bought tickets to a Ranch Radio Show where Stephanie Davis sang about the magic of baling twine, and besides the leather-tie promise, I promise to learn all the words to that song, because I swear it was written about Pops.

Today the streets and concert halls will fill up again, a sea of cowboy hats and the buzz of information, stories and music being passed around.

This morning we will walk down the street for a fresh donut and I’ll take the stage with my friend D.W. Groethe before heading back to the Convention Center to join other forth and fifth generation ranchers to talk about what it’s like to be back on the ranch.

Tonight we will see Ian Tyson and dance at Stockmens.

And tomorrow we’ll do it all over again before heading back up north to the horses taking in the winter sun on the top of the hills outside my window.

Music has given me so many gifts in my life, this week is one of them.

Grateful to be here. Grateful to tell my story.

Grateful that you all are listening and sharing yours too.

Peace, Love and Happy Trails!

Cowboy Singing

We’re looking ahead out here in the arctic tundra. Every day Pops is getting stronger and more antsy and our biggest job is to keep him from taking the keys and heading out the door without us.

I keep reminding him that it’s only been 2 weeks since they cut him open and rearranged his heart, but it doesn’t matter.

He’s ready to move on.

And so we are. Moving on and looking forward, me in particular to next week when I’ll be loading up my guitar and my husband and all of my boots to head on down to Elko, Nevada for the 30th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

It’s a big event and my first visit as an entertainer, so I’m excited.

And then I saw my name in the Western Horseman Magazine and I got even more excited.

North Dakota. Montana. Close enough.

Then I got nervous.

And I’ve been going back and forth between those two emotions for a few months.

But it’s going to be a good trip and I’m happy to be a part of an event that celebrates and lifts up Cowboy culture with poetry, art, music, dancing and lessons on things like leather-working, two-stepping and cast-iron cooking.

It’s our kind of party, I tell you what.

I’ve always been thankful for the opportunity to grow up in these hills so I’m thankful for the opportunity to tell my story a few state’s over.

And I’m thankful for the music.

If you’re in the area, stop on over. Here’s my schedule:

Thursday, January 30

Straddling the Line

With Brenn Hill, Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld
8:30-10:00 PM
Elko Convention Center Auditorium
Fusing deep rural experience with diverse musical influences, 29-year-old troubadour Jessie Veeder demonstrates that the younger generation doesn’t really leave the ranch behind–but they may find themselves straddling the line. The musical outcome is electrical and enthralling.  

Friday, January 31

Jessie Veeder & DW Groethe
10:45 – 11:45 AM
Flag View Auxiliary

Back on the Ranch
With Meghan O’Toole Lally and others
1:00-2:15 PM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Saturday, February 1

Across the Medicine Line
With Doris Daley & Rodney Nelson
10:00 – 11:00 AM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Being Cowboy in a Digital World
with Jessica Hedges & Jolyn Young
2:30-3:45 PM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Here’s a link for more information about the gathering. 

And here’s a link to a little interview and a few songs I played on a North Dakota Morning show. I woke up at 4 am to get there in time, so please take that into consideration with your critique :)

Music with Jessie Veeder
NBC North Dakota Today

For more information about my music visit:


A breath.

Ever had one of those weeks where you have not allowed yourself one moment? Where you’re so scheduled that there’s no room to sleep in just a little bit late, to linger on a phone call with a friend, to take the long way home, to stroll instead of power walk or to take an extra minute on a decision about which cheese you want on your sandwich?

In fact, you’d rather not be given the option of cheese because that’s just another decision you have to deal with and you know it doesn’t matter anyway as you drip mayo all over your computer’s keyboard, a small but messy casualty that comes with your attempt at multi-tasking.

I hate it when I do this to myself. I hate the inevitability that sometimes, everything I have on my plate needs immediate attention in the same five day time frame.

I hate when I have to pencil in “breathe.”

So here’s my breath.

Take it with me with a glass of wine and the crickets and the sky and a big sigh by the man behind the camera.

Because I’m standing on the hill and I can see the weekend from here.

And it’s looking like cool fall breezes blowing, a new to-do list and a couple shots of Baileys in my coffee.

Peace, love and keepin’ it together,


Heroes Proved

I’ve been writing music since I was a little girl. Some of it has escaped the walls that held me at the time, others have been locked up, unfinished, never ready to be played for anyone.

I have ideas. I try to show you. I try to tell it as I see it, or maybe as a stranger might. I try to share a little piece of me and my surroundings with whoever wants to listen.

I don’t always know what it is that I want to say.

Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the song knows better.

When I was in college touring the midwest in my Chevey Lumina, I wrote a song called “Heroes Proved.” It was the middle of winter in Northern North Dakota and I was cold. I was on the road and alone a lot. I missed home,  the smell of the sage and horse hair, black cows and the way the grass bends in the breeze.

I missed the neighbors and how they would come and visit on Sunday and linger over coffee.

And I missed cowboys, the ones I was convinced no longer existed in the world, except the few I left behind,  scattered and  lonely on the quiet scoria road.

I didn’t know if I would ever get back to that place for good.

I didn’t know if that place even existed anymore.

I didn’t know anything.

“Heroes Proved” was my way of asking the world to slow down.  I was desperate for it, but in a completely different way then I am now.

Now that I’m home and never leaving.

Now that I’m home and watching the world drive by–rushing, digging, kicking up dust on the way to meet the bottom line.

At 20 years old I couldn’t see the future. At 20 years old what I was writing felt so personal and disconnected from my peers. At 20 years old I couldn’t have known the progress waiting to barrel down that dusty road toward my family’s ranch, bringing me and the world with it.

“Heroes Proved” hasn’t been on my set list for years. I moved it out of the way to make room for new words and ideas.

I never considered that some of my songs might have become more relevant to me over time.

This is one.

“I think what you notice most when you haven’t been home in a while
is how much the trees have grown around your memories.”

― Mitch AlbomFor One More Day

Late summer rain

It’s hot here. Like 90 some degrees. Hot and a little bit windy and a little bit dusty and a lot like late August.

The ditch sunflowers are out in full bloom and everything is taking cover, looking for shade or a place to cool down.

The heat woke up the  wasps. And the black flies. And the scum growing on the pond. The weeds are prickly and tall. The dust settles in on the lines on my face and makes me look a little weathered as I wander sort of aimlessly around the farmyard, thinking I should be doing something on this late summer afternoon.

But there’s nothing worth doing when the sun’s this hot.

The neighbors are putting up hay in the fields above the house.

They’re combining the pea crop up the road.

Someone out in this country is fixing fences.

When it’s hot like this the work still needs to get done. And so the cowboys and farmers are out in it, their faces red under their caps, their arms dark brown and dirty under the sleeves of their t-shirts.

Out there under the hot sun they work, thinking it’s likely a storm will blow through tonight, this heat conjuring up a big set of thunderheads on the horizon.

Thinking how nice a  rain would feel right now, the cool drops hitting their backs, the lightning striking and thunder cracking, promising a downpour to interrupt the work.

There’s nothing like a late summer storm that sends you into the house.

There’s nothing like watching it pour and knowing there’s nowhere you can be now.

Nothing you can do but watch.

I had the windows open last week as the clouds darkened the evening and turned dust to mud. I had my guitar in my hands and it was so sultry, being cooped up in the house, my husband on the easy chair reading a book and me singing something.

To me a summer storm out here is weighed down with emotion: relief and renewal, unrest and electricity, and a sort of loneliness I can’t explain. The sound of the rain on thirsty things makes me want to sit a bit closer to him, to tell him things I’ve forgotten to tell him, remember the other storms we watched together.

Because there is nowhere we can be. No work to be done in the pouring rain.

So I sang.

Sun beats down
turning my pale skin brown
I have been cold for months
I turn my face up

I hear the thunder crack
heavy drops lick my back
and I think how nice it is
that I can cool down like this

Oh, it’s raining
and lightning
it’s pouring

Oh, it’s raining
can’t get the crop in
come in and sit down
come on into the house

I’ll take that heavy coat
soaked to the skin, the bones
I’ll cook you something warm
as we wait out the storm

There’s nothing like summer heat
cooled down by a thundering breeze
there’s nothing like you and me

Oh, it’s raining
and lightning
it’s pouring

Oh, it’s raining
can’t get the crop in
come in and sit down
come on into the house

Looks like it’s letting up
steam rolls from your coffee cup
held by your callused hands
I like these change of plans

I pull your collar up
say this weather is like our love
pouring the heat on us
then it’s raining

Oh, it’s raining
and lightning
it’s pouring

Oh, it’s raining
can’t get the crop in
come in and sit down
come on into the house

For more of my music visit:

Sunday Column: The road

I’ve had some pretty great adventures in the name of music. This summer almost every weekend has been filled with some sort of gig that takes me away from this place for a bit.

I’ve loaded and unloaded my car and pickup dozens of times.

It’s been months since I’ve completely unpacked my bag.

Please don’t look in my closet.  I don’t even want to look in my closet.

Anyway when you live in the middle of nowhere, pretty much everywhere you need to go involves a road trip.  So it’s a good thing  I’ve had years to master hours of car time. Sunflower seeds. Coffee. An updated play list on my iPod. A mental list of the most convenient places to stop for fuel. Not a bit of hesitation about singing at the top of my lungs, even when pulling up next to you at a stoplight. Windows open when the weather’s nice and the time is right.

The road to and from this place is early mornings, peaceful and dewy, running-late afternoons and evening sunsets where I don’t really feel like it but I’m going.

Some of my most creative times have been behind the wheel of my car, alone out there somewhere on a road in the midwest.

Some of my scariest have been out there too. Blizzard and tornado watches, black ice, flooding and miles and miles of antelope and sagebrush fields with an emptying tank and not a gas station for miles.

In the last few weeks my road trips have involved the men from my hometown band. It’s nice to have a pickup full of voices and stories about the old days playing in bar bands and bowling alleys. I welcome the company in the car and beside me playing guitar.

And it’s nice to have a crew that understands the life of a musician is mostly just an absurd train of events that involves setting up on flatbed trailers as a thunderstorm rolls through town, hauling around and hooking up sound system after sound system, laughing off requests to play “Smoke on the Water, ” to turn it up, to turn it down, to play something faster, or slower or something we don’t know. It’s good to know that this group won’t mind if a gig doesn’t quite turn out the way we planned, or the night drags on into morning, or we have to haul our guitars through a foot of mud to the stage. It’s alright. Because sometimes it’s great, and the harmonies are on and the audience is swaying and singing along and you know that they know that there’s more to music than the miles we’ve put on to get here and home in one piece.

So when you get back to the ranch at 3:30 in the morning only to wake to a call that the cows are in the neighbor’s wheat field, you don’t complain, you just take a swig of coffee, pull on your snap shirt and boots and head out the door to saddle a horse and bring them home.

Because it’s the life I chose. The one I write about and sing about and bring with me when I go.

Coming Home: Freedom sometimes means settling down
By Jessie Veeder
August 4, 2013
Fargo Forum

Music and miles, late nights and cows with terrible timing…

And it’s good.

Sunday Column: What makes a summer

Well, we made it back from the edge of the Montana mountains late last night. We were a wagon train of two pickups headed west, our cargo of guitars and sleeping bags, boots and coolers of beer, musicians and friends, a little more dusty than when we arrived in that Montana cow pasture ringing with music on Friday.

It was a long haul. 800 some miles, three small town diner stops,

countless fuel-ups, sunflower seeds and coffee refills  and only one “could have been major but actually turned out ok for once” pickup hiccup on the interstate east of Billings, MT.

Because, as Husband says, “It isn’t an adventure until it’s an adventure.”

And so we had one out in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, a bunch of neighbors and friends from the oil fields of North Dakota headed west to hear Merle Haggard sing “Momma Tried” and pick a little themselves on stage and around the campsite at night.

I’m home now with the memory of it turning the corners of my lips up a bit as I unpack and pack my bags again to head east for another gig.

I go to Devils Lake, ND today to sing in a park, but the band will stay home. They have work to do and things to catch up on so I’ll go it alone and that’s alright.

Although it’s always more fun with the boys around.

It’s going to be August in a few days.

August. The last month of summer at the ranch, rolling in with big thunderheads, sunflowers, prairie grass and wheat that turns gold over night.

Summer is fleeting here and I’ve spent this season chasing it–behind my camera, on the highway, on the back of a horse, on the top of a hill, down in the cool draws and behind my computer making plans.

I wish it were longer. Everyone does. But it doesn’t matter really. I’ll think of summer when the snow falls outside my window in December and I won’t think about its lifespan.

I’ll think about the life we put into it.

Coming Home: Berry season brings good intentions
By Jessie Veeder
Fargo Forum

Because summer means so many things to me, and so I’m happy to be here in it while it lasts…whether it’s picking wild raspberries in a cool draw on our North Dakota ranch

 or singing to the wild landscape and wild, wonderful people of Montana!

I’m glad to be home for a minute, and then I’m glad to be on the road.

 See you in Devil’s Lake tonight! 

Music in Montana

So I have a really exciting weekend coming up and I am pathetically distracted by the anticipation of it all.

My meetings turn into day dreams, my rhubarb jelly is still just rhubarb, and my writing projects have all turned into lists of what we need to bring with us on our camping trip to the middle of a pasture in the middle of summer in the middle of beautiful Montana in the middle of a kick ass music festival where the boys and me have been granted an opportunity to play music among some of the greats.

I’m talking great, like Merle Haggard great. Like Corb Lund great. Like Robert Earl Keen, The Waylin’ Jennys, Todd Snider and many more talents set to pick and sing and tap their toes under that big Montana sunset.

I’m peeing my pants here in anticipation for Friday when I load up my music and my hat and hit the road for the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

I’ll tell you why this is so cool for me on so many levels.

A weekend full of high caliber music, banjos and mandolins and harmonicas and guitars and songs about horses and love under a big blue sky with a cold brew in my hand is like on the top of my list titled “What heaven better be like.”

And if that’s not enough really, I get to bring my guitars, my boys, the lovely lonesome sound of the harmonica, my words and my music and we get to be a part of it all.

That kicks ass.

But what I’m most excited about really is what this festival is all about, because that’s the really cool part.

The Red Ants Pants Festival was created by a woman who grew up on a farm in Montana who was sitting at a coffee shop one day wondering why there weren’t any practically designed work pants on the market for women. I mean, tight, low waisted,  bedazzled butted jeans aren’t the most comfortable when a woman’s out chopping wood or pouring cement or pushing cows through the chute.

So she invented some. They’re called Red Ants Pants and you can buy them (and hats and t-shirts, aprons and belts and other fun stuff)  at www.redantspants.com 

And if you’re in White Sulphur Spring, Montana you can swing in her shop and buy some there.

I admire a woman who finds a solution to a problem (especially when it comes to minimizing butt crack and wedgies).

And I respect a woman who gives back to her community. And that’s what Sarah Calhoun is doing with this Red Ants Pants mission. She’s not only helping women get work done and look good doing it, she’s also established a foundation, The Red Ants Pants Foundation, with a mission to “support women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities; the three things most important to Calhoun, the company, and the Red Ants Pants Community.”

A portion of the festival ticket sales will go back to the foundation to help these causes. So while we’re singing and tapping our toes to the music, while we’re drinking beer and watching the sun go down on Montana, we will be supporting rural communities and the woman and families who work there. And that’s a really great thing.

Plus, they are hosting the Montana Beard and Mustache Competition State Finals, and really, that will be worth the trip right there.

I’m excited to be a part of it all…not the mustache competition necessarily, but the music part.

So we load up our guitars and our lawn chairs, hot dogs and picnic baskets, sleeping bags and lanterns and hit the highway pointing west on Friday.

And Saturday at 8:30 MT we’ll be singing under the Montana sky.

If you’re around, maybe I’ll see you there under your cowboy hat or big Montana beard.

If not, I hope you are making plans to spend this weekend in the middle of the best part of summer in the middle of a little piece of your own heaven.

And if you step outside and close your eyes and listen really close, maybe you’ll hear the music floating up to you from the edge of the mountains.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some lists to make.

Peace, Love and Harmonicas,


Learn more about Red Ants Pants

Festival Information: redantspantsmusicfestival.com
Foundation Information: redantspantsfoundation.com
Product Information: redantspants.com