During location scouting for WINTER'S BONE, West Plains MO native and folk singer/storyteller Marideth Sisco was asked by director Debra Granik to assemble musicians to play on the soundtrack. The band coalesced into “Blackberry Winter," and produced a widely acclaimed soundtrack CD of authentic music from the Ozarks Hills. Their live performances include a mix of original and traditional tunes featuring honey-sweet harmonies sprinkled with tasty pickin’ from the veteran local musicians.
The song Soldier Boy, which plays over the credits of STRAY DOG, was written by Marideth Sisco in collaboration with the filmmakers and set to traditional music. In Marideth's words:
From the minute I saw the rough cut of the film and that long line of bikes and bikers headed to DC for the memorial, I began to hear the words and music that became Soldier Boy. I knew I’d heard the music somewhere before, and I found it in several versions of an ancient story-song about a young man too lazy to tend his crops. The tune has been “borrowed” several times through the years by a variety of songwriters, but has its roots in the far past. The words are mine, gleaned from the stories of these vets and my own memories, having once tended bar in a tavern just a few freeway off ramps north of Fort Ord - one of the main departure points for deployments to Southeast Asia. While there I was witness to the many man-children going to war and (sometimes) coming home, and the ruin this terrible war had made of their lives. Soldier Boy is an homage to them and the men in this film, and Van Colbert the perfect singer.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO SOLDIER BOY, PERFORMED BY VAN COLBERT AND BLACKBERRY WINTER
Marideth Sisco is a veteran journalist, teacher, author, musician and student of folklore who created Elder Mountain Press as a venue for publishing stories relevant to Ozarks culture and history. The Elder Mountain name was donated to Missouri State University for use as the title of its scholarly journal of Ozarks Studies. Her publishing presence continues as Yarnspinner Press. She holds a BFA degree from Missouri State University and an MA from Antioch University. She is in her sixth year as host of the public radio show, "These Ozarks Hills" on KSMU-FM Regional public radio in the Ozarks, and is putting finishing touches on a novel in which the Ozarks is featured prominently. Sisco spent 20 years as an environmental writer and investigative reporter for the West Plains Quill and was well known for her gardening column, “Crosspatch.” Her most recent accomplishments were as music consultant and featured singer in the award-winning feature film WINTER'S BONE and as music consultant and composer for the new documentary film STRAY DOG. She is lead singer in the band formed during production of the Winter's Bone soundtrack. That band, Blackberry Winter, has toured nationally and is available by contacting their web site, blackberrywinterband.com. Sisco lives in rural southern Missouri, writes books and music and grows vegetables. Her books and CDs are available through Amazon or from her web site at maridethsisco.com.
Van Colbert was born in 1955 in the eastern Ozarks of Missouri, in the cab of his father’s pickup truck. He was the third of eight children born to Joseph Trueth Colbert and Vernerica May Easley Colbert. He got his first banjo for Christmas when he was thirteen, an old Sears Silvertone his dad bought at Nicks pawn shop in nearby West Plains, for forty dollars. "Dad taught me a few chords in standard C tuning and a two finger roll." But at 17, when he heard Grandpa Jones play he was inspired to learn claw hammer style and has become a recognized Missouri Master at that craft. Van, his father and brothers played music together for many years; Van still plays in a string band with his brothers and recently completed a new CD on the Juneapple label with them, titled “Songs Little Vernie Ain’t Stole Yet." Van performed on the soundtrack of the award-winning film WINTER'S BONE and is still performing as a star member of the band formed during the creation of the soundtrack. Van was awarded Master Status by the Missouri Arts Council and has taught old-time banjo in their Traditional Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program. More recently he performed the featured song “Soldier Boy” on the soundtrack of the newly released documentary film STRAY DOG.
Van says "I love to sing and play and will as long as I walk upon this planet, God willing.”
His music can be heard at blackberrywinterband.com.