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Article Regional Song Sampler: The Northwest

Members of the band Amuma Says No
Amuma Says No. Traditional and contemporary Basque music, songs, and dance from Idaho. Recorded at the Library of Congress, July 14, 2010. Photo by Megan Halsband. Select the link for more information and to view the webcast.

Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington and Wyoming

There are many opinions about which states constitute the northwestern region of the United States. It is an area of very diverse geological and geographical features, ranging from the vast farm and cattle cultures of Wyoming and Montana to seaport cities such as Seattle and Tacoma on the Pacific coast. Farming cultures supported by abundant rainfall, fishing industries, and significant mining interests are part of the culture of the northwest region. Oregon and Washington have grown steadily over several decades, and their largest cities (Portland and Seattle, respectively) have increased in wealth and prominence. The diverse ethnic groups of this region include Basques, who began sheepherding in this region in the 1840s, strong Southeast Asian communites, particularly on the coast, African Americans who migrated west after emancipation, and Scandanavians who came to the region from the northeastern United States and from Canada, among others. By the 1940s both Portland and Seattle hosted locally owned and operated commercial recording studios catering to local performers, and encouraging what would soon become a robust local music scene. During the 1950s and 1960s, Portland and Seattle studios were prominent in producing nationally popular hits such as The Fleetwoods' "Come Softly to Me"; (1959) Jimmie Rodgers's "Honeycomb" (1965), and both the Kingsmen's and Paul Revere and the Raiders' versions of "Louie, Louie"; (1963). This trend continues to the current day; the Northwest region has become especially known for alternative rock, and local bands, such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Everclear, and Alice in Chains have achieved international fame. 1

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