Songs have been written about the Mississippi, Shenandoah and Wabash Rivers.

Well, Cow Creek is finally getting some attention.

Songs have been written about the Mississippi, Shenandoah and Wabash Rivers.

Well, Cow Creek is finally getting some attention.

John Brisbin, Fresno, who grew up in Girard, has written poems and lyrics which, combined with original songs and music by Sharon Rogers and South 20, form “A Little Creek Called Cow.”

The work will have its world premiere in performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Shireman Performing Arts Center, Girard High School.

“I thought  it would be appropriate to premiere it in Girard, and the audience there would be better able to understand and appreciate it,” Brisbin said in a telephone interview from his office at Construction Development Systems, the business he owns in Fresno.

He contacted Terri Harley, Girard Public Library director, and plans were set in motion for  the premiere, which will also  be a benefit for  the library. Free will donations will be accepted, with $15 donations suggested.

Brisbin cherishes memories of being introduced to Cow Creek by his father.

“Cow Creek was one of my father’s old stomping grounds,” Brisbin said. “He knew parts of the creek that were still pristine, original. Then I learned about the history of the area. ‘A Little Creek Called Cow’ is not an historic account, but I’m pretty sure the things in it did happen in southeast Kansas.”

He wanted a female vocalist to sing some of the lyrics and poems he wrote, so called Roosevelt High School. The choir teacher there recommended Sharon Rogers.

“Right when I was out of  high school I got a call and it  was John,” said Rogers, who arrived in Girard with members of South 20 early Tuesday morning. “We composed music together. ‘Little Creek Called Cow’ encompasses a whole life story, so I wanted to pull in more players.”

Performing with  her in Girard will be Phil Sarkisian on upright and electric bass, Edward Fritz on drums and percussion and Roger Hallaway on guitar.

They said the music in the show  includes folk, country, blues, bluegrass, Americana and Bossa Nova.

“I know Roger from high school and met Ed at a summer arts camp,” Rogers said.

“Ed and I go back,” Sarkisian added.

There were also two other musicians involved for a while, but they dropped out.

“This production has been in the works for 2 1/2 years,” Rogers said. “There are 18 episodes that are divided into Act 1 and Act 2.”

Brisbin said that in the first act, an older man is recollecting his life along the creek.

“In the second part, the creek is telling the man his story, which is where the Civil War, the Indians and buffalo come in,” he said. “It’s quite an epic. There were a lot of things to put together, and the group created some beautiful music to go with it.”

Along with the music, the production includes a slide show, with slides provided by the Girard Public Library and the Buffalo Fields Campaign.

Unfortunately, Brisbin won’t be able to attend the premiere performances.

“I believe the last time I was back was around 2005, when my mother died,” he said.

He’s a 1958 graduate of Girard High School and earned a degree in civil engineering from Kansas State University, Manhattan.

“I took all of  my  electives in literature and journalism and enjoyed them more, but thought engineering would make a better profession,” Brisbin said. “I came out here on a job, kind of liked the  area and stayed.  I’ve been here since around 1969.”

He’s still working in his construction business, but has a little more time now for other interests, such as writing.

“I’ve done a lot of writing over the years, but most of it has been technical,” Brisbin said. “In the past four or  five years I’ve started doing more creative writing.”

He’s on something of a mission with his current writing.

“In recent years the stories  have not been showing up  in music,” Brisbin said. “I want to get the stories back into music.”

He has a good  helper in Rogers.

“Sharon is a wonderful singer,” he said. “A lot of singers can sing the notes, but she gets the meaning and soul into it.”

Neither Rogers nor the South 20 musicians have ever been to Kansas before, and Brisbin thinks they’re  going to like it.

“Fresno would be almost a desert if they didn’t  irrigate everything,” he said. “I told them that they’re going to be surprised at all the green they see in Kansas.”