(Sons of the San Joaquin)
Bob Nolan was a genius lyrically as well as musically. He was and still remains the greatest writer of authentic Western songs. His poetry was superb and he knew how to write songs so the poems were a marriage to the melody. No one in the Western world is his equal. Nobody. (Jack Hannah, January 5, 2009)
When our family was young, Joe, Bob and I
were raised on Pioneer music and gospel songs. It was a charming life we lived
and the Sons of the Pioneers were our heroes. Our dad was considerably religious
and he didn't want us exposed to risqué movies so he said, "You can go to Roy
Rogers movies or Gene Autry, and Wild Bill Elliott, and Johnny Mack Brown." So
when the Pioneers would come anywhere in the vicinity to sing, my Mom and Dad
would pack us up in the car and we'd go listen to them.
• David Martin Graham photos •
As a result, I met Roy and became good friends of the Sons of the Pioneers
because we would do shows on the same show that they were on. It was always
marvelous to see how humble they were and hear how they praised us. They
would talk to us as if we were the Sons of the Pioneers! It was great to know
And as we sang Pioneer music Lon, who was about 28 years old, came sauntering over to where Dad and I and Joe were singing and said, "Hey, can I sing one of those songs with you?"
I said, "You don't know this stuff, do you?"
The Sons of the San Joaquin: Lon, Jack and Joe
David Martin Graham photo
OJ Sikes, Jack Hannah, Joe Hannah, Bill Nelson
Seated: Bobbie Nolan Mileusnich
Western Music Association Festival, November 1995
(Michelle Sundin photo)
Bob Nolan was a genius lyrically as well as musically. He was and still remains the greatest writer of authentic Western songs. His poetry was superb and he knew how to write songs so the poems were a marriage to the melody. No one in the Western world is his equal. Nobody. There was Stan Jones who has written some great songs, but I think the nearest one to Bob was Tim Spencer. They were a writing team that was unsurpassed in history. I have enough unpublished recordings of Bob’s and Tim’s songs that I would never have to write another song. We could go on and do new songs every time we made a new album, just with Bob's and Tim's songs. It was very rich.
Western Music Association Festival, November 1994
Left back: Billy Armstrong, Luther Nallie, Jack Hannah, Roy Warhurst, Dale Warren, Gary LeMaster and Rusty Richards
Left front: Lon Hannah, Sunny Spencer, Tommy Nallie and John Nallie
Right: Woody Paul (just off camera), Don Edwards, Doug Green, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Jack Hannah, Lon Hannah and John McEwen
(Michelle Sundin photo)
The Sons of the San Joaquin (Jack, Joe and Lon Hannah), formed in 1987, quickly went on to remarkable success, first with the Sons of the Pioneers songs and then with Jack Hannah's own beautiful creations. The song on this page, Bob Nolan's "Happy Cowboy", is from one of their albums, "15 Years - A Retrospective". Samples and often full songs can be heard on their website www.thesons.com. Their albums are widely available for sale.
To find some of their Bob Nolan songs, look for these albums:
• To hear more of The Sons of the San Joaquin and Jack Hannah's songs, visit their website.
• Read the history of the Sons in the book by Ken Griffis: "Sons of the San Joaquin: The Songs, The Music, The Men". (Norken 1999). Since the book was published, the Sons have ridden on to even greater success and respect. They continue to present the West as it was and as it is today.
Notes from the Sons:
February 2, 2009.
I hope you are getting off to a great New Year.
We are!!! We just returned from Elko, where we were featured as the "Mystery
Guest Performers." No one knew we were going to be there, and it was a fun
experience for us, and it was a sold out house. Our first appearance at the
Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering was way back in 1989. I was older than Lonnie is
now when we started this venture. In fact, it launched our career with a bang,
a career we didn't even know we had. We only knew five songs then, and I hadn't
written any songs at that time. We thought it would be our 'one and only'