The Old Homestead (VIDEO)


I saw this photograph of my friend Colleen Harrington and her children Rose and Lily as taken by husband and dad, John Mercer, a professional photographer. It immediately inspired the line “The hills are alive with the lilt of laughing children” and so begins the song that followed “The Old Homestead”. I recorded an early version of it so they could hear it. Colleen and I played it together at their house on the Kittleson Homestead, which was founded in 1914 and was the 18th homestead in the Swan Valley.

Lately the world has been a stressful place and I wanted to do something nice with a feel good message. The Old Homestead gave me every opportunity musically. Over the last few years and having visited John’s studio, Swan Valley Images, I asked him if he would like to participate to create a video greeting card from Montana, with a warm message, using his photographs and my song which was inspired by his photograph. He knew the song and immediately said yes.

Bob Zimorino HomesteadWhile John sorted through photos and set them up so that I could download them in a higher resolution, I re-recorded the song, changed a few lyrics to accommodate the season and brought in Roland Dimmitt to play the violin. He was easy to work with and excited for the project having never been recorded in his 65 years. It was great to work with him. Amy Jo Hetzler came in to sing on the chorus and we were rolling.

John sent me over a hundred pictures which I picked what I thought were the best matches to where the song was at that point and created an initial video. We needed some other specific shots so John and his family jumped in to help us get what we needed including appearances in a couple of the pictures. From the rough cut we were able to see an end vision. John and I were back and forth with emails adding shots and taking out others until we winnowed it down to the video that we are presenting to you.

John’s pictures give the viewer an opportunity to see a part of Montana from an insider’s viewpoint with an eye toward the visually stunning. The lyrics of this harken back to a simpler time that so few of us seem to have time for anymore. It makes for what we think is, a beautiful way to wish our families, friends and anyone else that cares to listen A Happy and Healthy Holiday Season.

Take a little time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Put down your phone for a day and share in the love that every family should have…when you do…count your blessings.

Enjoy the video.


John K. Mercer lives in Condon MT. He is a professional photographer with the most amazing large scale printer that I have ever seen. His company is Swan Valley Images. He is available for Commission work. Visit John Mercer’s Website, or see him on Facebook.

You may also want to check out Bob Zimorino’s Taste It blog or even watch one of his many video blogs–including this one on Cashew Chicken!

  Check out Bob’s recipes.



Bob Zimorino is a real estate agent with ERA Lambros, retired chef and sometime blogger with Make It Missoula. He has been a musician for over 40 years and has been writing songs for just as long. 406 -239 – 9795. See Bob’s Website; or check him out on Facebook.