In-Laws, Outlaws and Offspring- a New Family Reunion Song

Family Reunion Helper gave away a free family reunion theme package  to one of our lucky subscribers, Dana Jo Forseth.  What a wonderful surprise to make a new friend and learn more about this talented songwriter and singer. 

Dana Jo has written a lot of songs and  her latest album. “Driven”, features a family reunion song called, “In-laws, Outlaws and Offspring”. I love, love, love the lyrics of Dana Jo’s reunion song- oh, the picture she paints through her words.  I can just see family members lip syncing the song at our reunion talent show. Smile

“One hundred people scattered through
Some dozen rooms we rent
And whoever can’t deal with their mother-in-law
Is free to bring a tent”

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You can listen to her song on Dana Jo’s webpage
http://danajoforseth.com/category/audio/

You can purchase the song on Amazon where you can also listen to snippets of all the songs on her latest album, the mastered versions , and that way they have a link to purchase right there. 
http://www.amazon.com/Driven/dp/B006QYO5C8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330196058&sr=8-1

Dana Jo and I have corresponded through email the last month or so and I had the opportunity to learn a little more about her passion for singing, songwriting and family.

AUNT MO: Dana Jo, tell us a little about yourself.

DANA JO: I was born and raised on a farm outside of Fairfield, Montana, and I’ve always loved music.  I studied Business in college and work now as an accountant at a utility company in Montana, but I love to write, play and sing.  I’ve always wanted to record, and I hope I’ll have more opportunities to do that in the future.

AUNT MO: Where did you get the idea for your family reunion song, "In-laws, Outlaws and Offspring"?

DANA JO: I come from a very large family (there are over 150 people on my mother’s side of the family) and every 3 years, we gather for a week, usually at a lake or in the mountains somewhere.  Growing up, I’ve always known members of my family, and even though many of us get together all the time for holidays and weddings, these reunions are to credit (blame? Smile) for how close we are as a group.   The memories I made there are as much a part of my childhood as the place I grew up. 

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(A favorite family reunion activity- kids playing in the lake (“flying off the rope swing” etc) back in the 80s.)

DANA JO: A few of my relatives (more-so, the “outlaws”) were good with a guitar and I spent hours with my cousins sitting around a campfire, wishing I knew how to play one.  This was one of the first songs I ever wrote—and while I am nostalgic for our reunions (and they do still go on), I approached it almost with an irreverence…because, well, that’s how my family approaches a lot of things.

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(This is a picture of all eight of the Ward sisters doing a chorus line styled leg-kick back in 1975.  This became somewhat of a tradition at every reunion for as long as they all could do the kick.)

AUNT MO: I love the lyric that says "playing guess whose kid that is."  I think that is so funny- sounds like you’ve spent some time at family reunions. What are some of your favorite family reunion traditions?

Back when I was a kid, we would plan a lot of activities for the evenings that would get us all together as a group.  We’d have a trivia night, Water Olympics, an award ceremony, talent/skit show, game/tournament nights and the like for everyone, then as the younger and older would wander off to bed, we’d stay up and tell scary stories around the campfire, or (when I got older of course) play poker and drink a few beers.  Another favorite activity was cooking meals in the kitchen with our cousins and siblings, or learning from the aunts how to bake cinnamon rolls or potato bread.  One year we tried a karaoke night.  I don’t think we ever did that again…

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(The the evolution of reunion activities to playing “Just Dance” on the Wii.)

AUNT MO:  I love the song title, “In-Laws, Outlaws and Offspring”- how did you come up with that?

DANA JO: I didn’t come up with it—my Mom, Caroline Forseth, did.  I stole it from her after realizing I’d never heard the term anywhere else.  As to how she came up with it?  I’m not really sure…but I just think she’s a genius.

AUNT MO:  Tell us about the first song you ever wrote.

DANA JO: I wrote lyrics for years before I ever finished a song.  When I was a junior in high school, I was just starting to put together enough music theory to understand how to pair the music with the words.  So I finished my first whole song that Easter, and played it publicly for the first (and only) time at my high school’s spring concert.  It was also the first time I ever sang a solo in front of people—so talk about nerves!   I hadn’t told anyone about it other than my band teacher—my parents were very surprised and I think a little delighted.  The song was nothing special—it was called “So Far From Yesterday” and the register was so high I could hardly sing it. But I could only play it in the key I wrote it in.  Luckily, the critics were silent and the night ended with some really great pizza in a neighboring town.

AUNT MO: What a great story, you’ve come along way from high school spring concert- you’ve just released a new album- who do you hope will hear the album?

DANA JO: I’m just trying to get it out to the ears of the people who will love it—and that could be anyone at all.  Even though it (and I) came from a rural place, I feel like there’s something on this record for everyone.  It celebrates family roots, grieves losses and explores sadness, deals with a bad day, enjoys love, and shakes off heartbreak.  The emotions are universal, and being mostly-acoustic, many of the songs are so stripped down that fans of all different genres can enjoy them.  I really enjoyed writing these songs, and I’m so excited that people finally get to hear them.

Good luck to Dana Jo and her family and just in case you’re wondering- Dana Jo choose Book One of the Pipe Chimes books so I bet the Forseth family will be making music on the conduit pipes at their next family reunion.

Aunt MO

Location, Location, Location!

It’s official- the Stewart family reunion will be held at Box  Elder Campground! Why is that great news? Well, as far as I’m concerned, finding the location to hold a family reunion is the most difficult part of the planning. Give me responsibility for the food, the games and the decorating but PLEASE don’t make me find a place to hold the family reunion.  That’s just too hard.  That’s why when we find a good family reunion location we keep going there until circumstances change and we have to move on.

Lately, our favorite reunion location has been Hanson Park. It is the dream location. It has a large grassy area for camping and playing games, ball diamond for softball, restrooms, kitchen with large grills and a full size fridge, covered bowery, basketball, swings and lots of parking. The only problem with Hanson Park is that it wasn’t available this year – you snooze you lose. . .

So where to hold your family reunion?  Here’s my list:

Campground, Park, College dormitory, Condominium, Resort, Cruise, Theme Park, Reservoir, Beach, Bed and Breakfast, Grandma’s yard, Hotel, Ranch, Water Park, Hot Springs Resort or an Ancestral Site such as a town where your ancestors’ homesteaded or where they were born or died.  Have I left any place out?

When looking for a family reunion location consider the distance family members will have to travel to the reunion.  Can family members get to your reunion without having to take a lot of vacation from work?  There are some wonderful resort locations near us but the cost is prohibitive.  Consider affordability- will some of your family members be unable to attend the reunion because of the cost?   Determine what features the proposed reunion site offers.  If  you want to have a water reunion then plan your reunion at a water park.  When choosing your location, be sure to ask about facilities such as parking, restrooms and, for outdoor reunions, alternatives in case of rain. Most campgrounds limit how many vehicles you can park at the site. Even group sites will have a limit. One of the campgrounds we have used for our family reunions will allow 100 people in the group camping site but only allows parking for 10 total automobiles. Doesn’t seem to make sense, does it?

Some things the Stewarts consider when selecting a family reunion location is that it is close enough to Grandma and Grandpa’s house so that Grandpa (age 85) can sleep in his own bed. We also want our reunion location to be close enough to motels so that families that don’t care for camping can rent a room for the reunion and we HAVE to have access to restrooms but hot showers and electricity are not necessary.

There have been some years that I thought, “Oh, well, guess we won’t be having a family reunion this year.” But every year we keep  at it and something eventually works out. We have held our family reunion at parks, campgrounds, on the beach, at a condominium, in a backyard, bed and breakfast, at a hot springs resort and Grandma’s front yard.  Each year everyone always says, “this has been the best reunion ever!” and although each site has different things to offer I would consider each of our reunions a success. I guess that just proves that although “where” you have your family reunion is important, “having” a family reunion is the most important thing of all!

 beach

 

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My first memories of family reunions

My first memories of family reunions were attending the "Fackrell" family reunion in Lyman, Wyoming as a child.  The first evening of the reunion we would meet at the school and listen to the original family members tell about their families.  I have to admit I probably would’ve enjoyed hearing about Aunt Ruth’s most recent, Uncle Kim’s crop loss and "the twins" escapades at college but honestly I didn’t know WHO these people were!

Aunt Mo sharing her talent at the Fackrell Family reunion

Aunt Mo sharing her talent at the Fackrell Family reunion

The second day of our reunion was the best- with relay races (we got a nickel if we participated and a dime if we won our race) good food and prizes (for the oldest, youngest, person that traveled the farthest and the cousin with the longest hair.)  Uncle Spence and Addie always bought their sound system and boxes of orange sticks to share.  The men would admire the new "touring" car Uncle Frank just bought and all the women would fuss over the newest Fackrell baby.  That second day of the Fackrell reunion gave me a love of family and of coming together- I just wanted to do it bigger and better than it had ever been done before.

Aunt Mo and Uncle Steve at the Western Family Reunion

Aunt Mo and Uncle Steve at the Western Family Reunion

The first family reunion I was in charge of was the DeLoy and Marilynn Stewart reunion 27 years ago.  We held it up Box Elder Campground and we all fit into four campsites.  Now we have to rent an entire park or campground to accommodate all of us Stewarts and it takes at least three days to pack in all the fun we have.  And that’s why there is so much material for this website.  My brothers had been trying to convince me to do a family reunion website but I just had no idea how to go about it.  Then…

last October my husband, Uncle Steven, got caught in a " Reduction of Force" at ATK/Thiokol and thus this website came to be.  How fun it has been to look at old photos and relive fun memories of favorite reunions throughout the years.

A big thanks to my family, for being good sports and "guinea" pigs for all my wild and crazy ideas, to my husband and partner in crime, Uncle Steven, who knows how to make my ideas come to life and to my brothers who believe in me, my Mom and Dad for letting me create, plan and practice on them and to my amazing "web master", Terance, for his patience and professionalism.

And to all of you who visit his site- I hope that your reunions will be a rewarding experience and that through them you will discover the roots and branches on your own family tree.

Aunt MO