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Page 2

The Academy of Western Artists' Eighth Annual Will Rogers Awards for Outstanding Achievement of Contemporary Cowboy Skills in Fort Worth, July 8, 2003, was a sold-out music, poetry, and arts extravaganza.

A video of the Awards show is available from Community Cable TV, 401 W 2nd, Fort Worth, TX 76102 for $20, postpaid.

There was a Convention and Trade Show in the two days preceding the Awards show, which included talent showcases for musicians and poets.


    Reports on the events
 Carl Condray
Voleta Hummel
Jack Hummel


On Page 1:

The complete list of winners
Poetry-Related Top Ten Nominees
More about the Academy of Western Artists

2003 AWA Award Show Program
cover drawing by Bill Owen

Reports on the Events


The Bar-D Posse Rides to Cowtown
by Carl Condray

The Bar-D was well represented as many of its poets converged on the 8th annual AWA conference.  It was a great chance to network and share ideas with many other artists.  Talent was all around the Holiday Inn North filling two major exhibit halls. Stages were set in the Atrium where many poets and musicians plied their trade.  This was also where AWA's Sandra Herl kept track of the herd and registered the artists.

Steven and Sandra Herl

In the next hall was where the many vendors set up and another stage was running there as well.  Vendors displayed everything from hand made boots to custom frames.  There were publishers and recording studios represented and even a radio station or two.  You could get your hat cleaned and blocked while the wife cleaned out your wallet, all to the sound of western music or verse.

photo by Jan Spiller
The BAR-D Posse:  Rod Nichols, Gene O'Quinn, Janice Chapman,
Carl Condray, Debra C. Hill

Monday after the sessions were over the music didn't stop.  Around 5p.m. the first of many fine musicians pulled the chairs together in the atrium and began to jam.  It was truly amazing to see and hear these fine pickers start to play.  Everyone that came up seemed to join in and the circle kept growing and going.   Jan and I watched it grow from 3 to 12 and finally at one time there were around 20 musicians all entertaining anyone
who passed within earshot. Singers sang and Yodelers yodeled all to my delight as Jan and I found a rug or two to cut.  I know that they didn't stop till late or early depending on how you look at it.  This old dawg went back up to the porch around 11p.m. and it was still gaining momentum.  I know that the next morning was a little slow to start and from the jokes and pokes I heard some passing around it must have been a very late night.

It felt good to finally get to know the person behind the poems as we met so many of the bards. It was a real hoot to get to meet two of the Medallion book award recipients.  Mike Dunn and Rod Nichols are truly deserving of these awards and their books are a bargain at any price.  I also want to thank Janice Chapman for making Jan and I feel so welcome and showing us the ropes.

photo by Carl Condray
Carl's fiance' Jan Spiller and Janice Chapman

The Scott Theater was hopping as the awards program started. I really felt like all the nominees were winners but the ballots were cast and the best of each field was chosen for the year.  Next year is still open though so lets all keep trying our best to preserve the history and flavor of the western arts.  Set your sights on next year to attend the AWA Convention and attend it as a member.  The benefits are many and the rewards are great.


Read some of Carl Condray's poetry here.


AWA Awards 2003 Described in One Word — WOW!
by Voleta Hummel

Whether it was Dave Alexander and the entire brass section of the Legends of Western Swing swinging up the isles (and sitting in various laps in the audience while playing their trumpets) at the Scott Theater in Fort Worth, Texas, or Curly Musgrave’s tear choked “Thank You” to his wife, Kathy, when he won the Entertainer of the Year Award, this year’s Academy of Western Artists Awards Show was everything it should be and much, much more. The force of energy, enthusiasm, emotion, and deep feelings of unity for the western way of life flowing from the stage throughout the audience was so great you could almost touch it with your hand. It certainly touched everyone’s heart.

The feelings of family and generosity were everywhere, but no better illustration than when Robyn Anderson, who had already driven from Big Bear Lake, California, to Fort Worth, Texas, a couple of days before (a least a two day trip), made an additional eight hour turn around to Abilene, Texas, on Tuesday to pick up Jean Prescott so that Jean could be at the awards show. Jean, who was suffering from a very serious back problem, could not ride sitting but had to lay down all the way to Fort Worth, with numerous stops along the way.

The story of the awards show is so multifaceted it is probably impossible to do justice to everything in one article. The winners of the memorial awards are a particularly special part of the story as described in two of the mission statements for the Academy of Western Artists:

To recognize and honor those individuals who, through outstanding personal accomplishments, have helped preserve and perpetuate the traditions, values and heritage of the American Cowboy.

To give recognition and encouragement to those individuals who are bringing the cowboy movement into the 21st century through their contemporary work and by carrying on in the tradition of those who preceded them.    

For the love of the craft and his exquisite skill, Dave Silva was presented The Don King Lifetime Achievement Award for a lifetime of leather tooling and saddle making. Within the past 30 years, he has created about 600 saddle masterpieces. An important influence at the legendary Visalia Stock Saddle Co., his goal is to teach someone the intricacies of the trade so that saddle-building the revered Visalia way will not become a lost art.  

Every now and then, a unique and very special person comes along who touches all of us in a memorable and lasting way. Buck Ramsey’s quiet courage, his gentle friendship, his joyful sense of humor and his constant encouragement left an indelible impression on those who knew him or saw him perform. Presented by Texas Poet Joel Nelson, the Buck Ramsey Award for Cowboy Poetry Book was awarded to Sunny Hancock (posthumously) and Jesse Smith for Cowboy Poetry: Horse Tracks Through the Sage.

The Skinny Rowland Humor Award, named in memory of the western world’s good friend and humorist, is given each year to the winner of the Storyteller/Humor category. This year’s award presented by California poet, Larry Maurice went to the amazing Biscuits O’Bryan.

Taking one of the army ambulance-type wagons so popular in the West after the Civil War, Charlie Goodnight nailed a clever box to it and created the chuckwagon. Because they could cut loose from stores and trading posts and support larger crews and therefore more cattle, the great trail drives became possible. The skill and ability of the men and women cooking in Dutch ovens over an open fire to serve up the best eatin’ to be found between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans has not changed since Charlie’s time. John Wolf from New Mexico was honored as the latest successor in a long tradition of good cooking and strong coffee with The Garnett Brooks Memorial Award for best chuckwagon presented by Helen Brooks, Garnett’s widow.

The Jesse Chisholm Award is not an annual award, but presented very conservatively to those who carry on the tradition of the American Cowboy through word and deed. Jesse Mullins, American Cowboy Magazine Editor, presented this most prestigious award to Anne Windfhor Marion, great granddaughter of Capt. Samuel Burk Burnett founder of the 6666 Ranches in 1870. Instrumental in establishing the permanent home of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Marion is involved with the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, chairwoman of the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, and director of the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, American Quarter Horse Association, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Particularly memorable moments during the show included Craig Chambers presenting Ginny Mac the Western Swing Female Vocal Award. Seventeen year old Ginny thanked Craig not only for the award but for being one of her important music mentors who has helped her along her Western Swing music trail. Not too much further into the program Ginny Mac was the presenter of the Western Swing Male Vocal Award where she got to return the favor by announcing Craig Chambers as the winner.

Former Storyteller/Humor award winner Sky Shivers announced that Dave Alexander & the Legends of Western Swing were the winners of the Western Swing Duo/Group of the year. Immediately Dave was back on stage without time to catch his breath, to award the Western Music Duo/Group Award to the Gillette Brothers. Thanks to the careful handling of the award statues by the beautiful stage hostesses Leslie McClier and sisters Jessica and Angela Bounds, Dave did not pass on his award by mistake in all the excitement. As if that was not enough for the Legends of Western Swing, the award for Western Swing Instrumentalist went to their steel guitar player, Cindy Cashdollar.

Royal Wade Kimes presented the Hitcher/Braider of the year to Leland Hensley and then received the award for western music video for “There Ain’t Enough Miles” a song about Texas (but of course there really are enough miles!). Zane Lewis, Editor of Cowboy & Indians Magazine, announced the Rising Star Award winner was Canadian Tammy Gislason. If you have not had the privilege of seeing her in person you are in for one heck of a treat when you do. 

Even though at least six of the ten finalists for western music album are my very favorite and the others are quickly becoming favorites since I met the performers and heard their albums … Red Steagall’s Wagon Tracks won! Have you heard it? That says it all. Speaking of favorites — Kip Calahan won Western Music Female Vocal, Terry Taylor won Yodel, Jo Hargrave won Disc Jockey, Pat Richardson was Male Poet of the Year, Curly Musgrave, in addition to winning the coveted Entertainer of the Year Will Rogers statue, also won the Male Vocal Award.

You might by now have figured out that “my favorites” are people I have known for a while. Since this year’s awards show and convention I now have a list of new favorites which include Yvonne Hollenbeck from South Dakota who won the Cowboy Poetry Album of the year. Adding to that list are the Daughters of the Silver Sage and their leader (and oldest sister) Donna Guffy who wrote the award winning Western Music song of the year, “He’s a Cowboy.” You want to discuss family harmony — these sisters may just have the corner on the market. Returning to Nashville they were invited to perform this song on the George Jones concert in Pigeon Forge and in August to sing two songs on the “Midnight Jamboree” hosted by Opry great — Charlie Luvin. Rhonda Stearns was awarded the Cowboy Poetry Female award and Tommy Tucker representing KRLC in Lewiston, Idaho accepted the Will Rogers award for best radio station.

Other winners were: Western Swing Song/Songwriter, “San Antonio Sweetheart” by Harold Hill w/Hugh Cardenas; The Western Swing album was Live at the Station Inn by the Time Jumpers; Robert Summers, Artist of the Year; Mark Dahl, Spurmaker; Diane Scalese, Engraver; Mad Jack Hanks, Cartoonist; and Eddie Brooks, Saddlemaker.

Is this story over? Not by a long shot. The presenters were as much a part of the this wonderful story as the finalists and winners. In addition to the ones already mentioned, there were wonderful actors and stunt men such as Alex Cord, Buck Taylor, Dean Smith, Dale Barry, and Cindy Mitchum, daughter of John Mitchum and Robert Mitchum’s niece.

Jeff Hildebrandt was there representing the Western Channel. The Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo was represented by Shadow Baker and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Don Silva was there. Wondermont Records had Barbara Haden and the famous fiddle player Hoot Hester came from Nashville to be a presenter. Also presenting were Chuck DeHaan, former Artist of the year, and Texas Rancher Wayne Mitchell one of the leading experts in bit and spurmakers and past President of the National Bit, Spur & Saddle Collector's Association.   

Disc Jockeys from around the country added their announcing skills to the presenter list. These include: Jo Hargrave, Joe Baker, Jim Thompson, and Enola Gay (mother of the two beautiful stage hostess sisters mentioned before). Performers Dan Roberts, Curtis Potter, and Dennis Gaines were also there to add their talent to this wonderful mix, but you might want to ask Dennis for his take on this particular task required of him to get the full picture or at least the story according to Dennis. Margo Metegrano did a magnificent job representing cowboy poets everywhere.

Entertainers for the show began with Tammy Gislason. Then Curly Musgrave with his special “backup babes” — former and current winners of the Western Music Female Vocal Award Belinda Gail and Kip Calahan sang the song he co-wrote with this year’s Poet winner, Pat Richardson, “Boys, It’s Roundup Time.” Joel Nelson presented his poem about the horse — the reason why cowboys, western awards shows, etc., exist. Royal Wade Kimes and the Sisters of the Silver Sage were interspersed between the award presentations. Curtis Potter opened the second half of the show with his award winning Western Swing music with Dave Alexander ending the entertainment for the awards show.

I had so much fun I told Bobby and Betty Newton I wanted to do it all over again right then. Since they had been working on the show for so long and were pretty close to exhaustion, I won’t tell you how each of them phrased it, but it essentially meant no, not until next year. I think that’s what it meant, anyway.

No one is a loser at the Academy of Western Artists Award Show. It is a huge honor to be among the top ten nominees in any category and the entire western world of music, poetry, and artisans benefit as well. Is the story over? Maybe it is for this year, but we will all be back next year for the next exciting chapter. Meanwhile Jean Prescott had her back operation and is doing great! It is all part of the wonderful western family we have the privilege of being a part. Until next year then …      

 A version of this report appeared in Rope Burns.


 AWA Trade Show and Pre-award Festivities       
by Jack Hummel  

The Holiday Inn North in Ft. Worth, Texas, was the host hotel again this year for performers and fans gathered to take part in or attend the 8th annual Academy of Western Artists Awards show. The preliminary happenings of previous years changed formats this time with lots of new and exciting things added. Previously a series of seminars were offered during the day on the Monday prior to the Awards show, and this was followed by various performers who presented a couple of songs or poems on Monday night. The seminars were educational in nature and although offering good advice to the performers, were not well attended. This year on both Monday and Tuesday,  in addition to various seminars presented throughout the day, a tradeshow was held and two performing stages were set up to allow performers to showcase their talent. This allowed talent buyers and fans to sample a wide variety of acts in both western music and poetry. A central table was manned to sell performers’ tapes and CDs, and tables were available for performers to use to hand out informational material and to meet and greet fans. Numerous vendors offered western merchandise ranging from fancy western clothes and hats to guitars and furniture. The Rex Allen Museum was represented there as well as couple of guest ranches. The two performing stages were MC’d by Larry Maurice and Jon Messenger who kept things moving with the various acts presented throughout the day. There was even a fashion show featuring numerous performers to supplement the models that showed us “someone’s” idea of what the well dressed western enthusiast or performer should or could be wearing.  For a first time effort, the trade show was well attended and I’m sure it will grow into an even bigger and better event in coming years.

Monday night, music was presented in the bar area by several musicians. In addition awards were presented to Dean Smith and Sandra Herl for contributions they have made to keep the western movement alive and kicking. Finally, the recently established and sure to be highly coveted, Homer Award was presented. The “Homer” is a wooden statue carved by Bill Strickler of Big Bear Lake, California, and is a likeness of the famous Rat so often fondly mentioned by Rope Burns Publisher and Editor, Bobby Newton. The initial recipient of this award was our own California Cowboy poet, Les Buffham. (See pictures with this story or elsewhere in Rope Burns.) 

In addition to the music in the bar, The Texas Trailhands hosted a hospitality suite and it was the happening place to be for good music, good food, and good companionship. Those Texas Folks sure know how to throw a party. 

Musicians and poets gathered in various places in the hotel to recite poetry and play music throughout the day and night, and to swap stories and lies about the life in the cowboy world.

Following the Awards show Tuesday night, the hotel bar, the lobby, and various other places were again filled  with performers who continued to jam am and others who met with fans to discuss the awards and what they would do until coming back next year. Slowly but surely the festivities wound down. Some said goodnight on Tuesday and others said goodbye on Wednesday morning. We couldn’t ride off into the sunset because it was way too early and we didn’t have a horse, but you can bet we had a good time as usual and look forward to attending the festivities again next year. Hope to see you there.



photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

"The outdoor photo was taken Sunday, down in the Stock Yards District. Devon Dawson was emceeing the regular Sunday afternoon cowboy concert on the steps of the Live Stock Exchange Building. She featured several of the AWA nominees in town for the festivities. It was a great experience:  got out of the shuttle to the sounds of T.J. Casey singing "Cattle Call." WOW!"

photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

Dave Alexander, Tammy Gislason, Cindy Cashdollar and Dave Alexander's band (Legends of Western Swing) at Awards ceremony


photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

Belinda Gail, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Kip Callahan, Pat Richardson


photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck

Jim Thompson and Rod Nichols


photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck

Award winners Kip Callahan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and  Pat Richardson


photo by Janice Chapman

Judy and Lloyd Shelby


photo by Janice Chapman

Linda Kirkpatrick and Janice Chapman  


photo by Janice Chapman

Larry Maurice


photo by Janice Chapman

Tim Graham


photo by Janice Chapman

Karen and Dennis Gaines


photo by Janice Chapman

Les Buffham (and Homer)


photo by Janice Chapman

Mike Dunn and Jay Snider


Tim Graham and his inspiration, Monica Sanderson


Scott Bumgardner


Doc Stovall and Yvonne Hollenbeck


Pat Richardson and Georgie Sicking


Mike Dunn and Lloyd Shelby


Yvonne Hollenbeck, Les Buffham, and Jeri Dobrowski


Jeff Hildebrandt


Chuck Beggs and Jake White


Bodie Dominquez and Tammy Gislason


Jay Snider


Tom and Donna Hatton


Kent Rollins (you had to be there)


Woody Woodruff and Lloyd Shelby





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