Cowboy Campfire Concerts
Dennis Gaines, former working ranch cowboy, award-winning cowboy poet, humorist and storyteller, has created a great new outdoor venue in Kerrville, Texas, presenting COWBOY CAMPFIRE CONCERTS.
The concerts on first and third Thursdays, April-July, features poets and musicians such as Andy Hedges, Jill Jones (of Jill Jones the Lone Star Chorale), Jean Prescott, Don Cadden, Jeff Gore, Fletcher Jowers, and Juni Fisher.
COWBOY CAMPFIRE CONCERTS in Kerrville, Texas
Lively entertainment for all ages. Great musical and storytelling performances by award-winning members of the Academy of Western Artists and the Western Music Association. Authentic cowboy and western roots music, range ballads, yodeling, western harmonies, western swing, Australian, Celtic and Hispanic influences.
Fine listening atmosphere. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and picnic coolers. Visit after the show around our campfire. Extra features such as ice cream socials, bake-offs, door prizes, and catered meals available on site. Adults - $7.00, Seniors (over 65) - $5.00, Students - $3.00. First and third Thursdays (April-July, September-October) 7:00-9:00 P.M.
Proceed north on Harper Road 1 mile north of I-10, just past James Avery Craftsman. Look for the "Cowboy Campfire Concerts" sign on the right. We are at 120 Hartshorn Drive. Call (830) 896-5598 for details. Ask for Dennis Gaines.
Dennis Gaines shared background information below. His open letter to Kerrville businesses and other potential sponsors gives some insight into how COWBOY CAMPFIRE CONCERTS came about, and is a model for others wanting to work with their communities to organize events. There is also information for interested performers, and there are comments by Andy Hedges, who was featured at the first COWBOY CAMPFIRE CONCERTS.
Read more about Dennis Gaines and some selections of his poetry here.
OPEN LETTER AND STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
As a professional cowboy storyteller and humorist and a former working ranch cowboy, the ongoing revival and preservation of traditional and contemporary cowboy literature and music is a subject that is near to my
heart. We have in Kerrville a unique opportunity to bring this subject to the attention of the general public and lead the way for a broad renewal of interest in this time-honored tradition.
To that end, I have decided that it is time for me to call in the markers. I am a member in good standing of the Academy of Western Artists, a group of musicians, writers and performers dedicated to celebrating all that is good and commendable about the cowboy life. Our organization encompasses all that pertains to the cowboy tradition, and includes every manner of cowboy craftsman and interpreter, in addition to wonderful entertainers. We are a like-minded association that seeks to educate and entertain our long-suffering fans and the public at large. We have endured minimal radio airplay and lack of public recognition, but we continue because we believe in the inherent worth of the material, both archaic and contemporary, and in the values embodied in the cowboy tradition, including but not limited to honesty, courage, devotion, honor to God and country, and so many other values given scant notice in our country these days.
To that end, I propose to bring to the Kerrville area a series of cowboy campfire concerts, to be held twice each month from April through October, in order to spur public interest and enthusiasm, with the ultimate goal of bringing a full-blown cowboy poetry and music festival to Kerrville within five years. Kerrville has already shown its ability and willingness to support a public music venue that celebrates folk and roots music, the three-week extravaganza known as the Kerrville Folk Festival, and this community has the resources to extend that support to the cowboy community. We have the Museum of Western Art and the heritage of the YO Ranch, to name just a few of our logical connections to the cowboy legacy. Numerous native citizens have connections to their ranching roots, and our imports and retirees from other states quickly find themselves caught up in the appeal of an enduring way of life. Let us capitalize on that interest with an entertaining, welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere of cowboy fun.
Cowboy music and storytelling is a captivating, enjoyable art form that is appreciated by millions, and has the potential to reach many more. Let us do our part. We need only the resolve and the vision as a community. I bring plenty of these commodities to the table, but I will need the faith and support of many others in order to achieve this goal.
Our first show will be held on April 1, 2005, in the back yard of my residence. We will feature Andy Hedges, a fine, young, award-winning cowboy poet and musician from West Texas, as well as yours truly, in a kick-off show that we hope will become a much-anticipated regular community event. Although we start on a Friday, we will then proceed to a regular schedule of first and third Thursdays. We hope to see you all there, and thank you for your time.
Obviously, we have had the first show. Andy did a great job, as I expected. The show was well received here, went off with out a hitch, and received favorable notice in the local newspaper. We need to continue building our core audience, and to attract the tourist trade, of which we have an abundance in season. In addition to two resort hotels and numerous area attractions, we have a huge number of summer camps for youths, and their parents who visit are always looking for new entertainment venues. A start-up venture like this is a chancy endeavor, but it is incumbent upon us as entertainers to cultivate our audiences in every way possible.
I am asking interested performers to contact me and to send biographies and some form of audition tape, CD or demo for me to consider. Although we will not be able to pay what many of you are truly worth in this first year, we will pay a fee and provide lodging and even some meals. I have planned for these campfire concerts to take place on Thursdays for several reasons. First of all, we have numerous live music venues in the region, but mostly on Fridays and Saturdays. Thursdays will afford us less competition, and hopefully there will be enough of you out there who are looking for a gig to play on a travel day when in this area. Kerrville is located in south central Texas, better known as the Texas Hill Country. We are 60 miles from San Antonio, 2 hours from Austin, 4 hours from Houston, and 5-6 hours from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Andy Hedges has promised to send an e-mail endorsing his experience here at the first show [Comments by Andy Hedges below].
Although we bill it as a "Cowboy Campfire Concert," rest assured that the primary emphasis is on the performer and his or her material. As a performer myself, I am well acquainted with the pitfalls of live performance, and we have done everything to minimize these problems. The campfire is located a respectful distance from the stage, the sound equipment is first rate, and the setting is perfect for this type of show. The stage is in the shadow of a barn that I have built partially for this very purpose. Our backyard can comfortably seat around 200 people, and we hope to achieve these numbers on a regular basis. We are far enough out in the country to avoid city noise distractions, but close enough to be convenient to all in the county.
There will be no vendors around the stage, no gunfighters popping caps, no stilt-walkers, fire-eaters, cotton candy salesman, circus clowns or turkey legs cooking upwind from you and your vocal cords. Every effort will be made to avoid cell phones, pagers and videotaping during your performance. You will have the opportunity to present your show as you see fit, without a stage manager limiting you to "ten minutes here" and "fifteen minutes there," and then "finish up with Happy Trails." You keep all proceeds from cash sales of your products (we take no commission), and we can make arrangements for you to accept credit card payments, as well. The show will run from 7-9 P.M., so that those families without extremely young children will be able to attend. We want to attract all ages, and everyone will be welcome, because we want to educate the public about this kind of music and storytelling. Folks are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and coolers. We will not sell alcohol, but we cannot restrict it. However, we fully expect a respectful atmosphere, and loud, rude behavior will not be tolerated.
We will present different types of added features at each show, what my Cajun friends (don't ask) call a lagniappe. We will have ice cream socials, bake-offs, door prizes, box suppers, and a number of other
diversions to be held either before or after each show or at intermission, so as not to distract from the performer. Hopefully, these extra features will stir more interest in the public.
Although I hope to build the business enough to be able to afford all musicians, poets and storytellers who might be interested, at present, I must place some limitations on whom I can invite. For the time being, I will be handling the emcee work, as well as the storytelling and poetry portion of the program, until such time as the locals get sick of me. I would like to extend this invitation to all interested singers and songwriters who are comfortable performing on a solo basis. If there are duos or groups who are willing to work for the fees which I will be able to pay, that would be wonderful, but this is a matter of choice for you. It may well be that some groups are looking for a transitional gig on the way to another, and perhaps we can work something out. I am not asking anyone to perform for free.
I have planned these shows to occur on the first and third Thursdays of each month from April through October. My good friend and fine singer Jill Jones is scheduled for April 21, but for those starving artists who
might not be able to afford a calendar, here are the dates for 2005:
April 1, 2005
April 21, 2005
Jill Jones and the Lone Star Chorale
May 5, 2005
May 19, 2005
June 2, 2005
June 16, 2005
Ed Stabler (WMA link)
July 7, 2005
July 21, 2005
In addition, any of you who might know performers with the AWA, WMA or other respected organizations, or even performers with no affiliation, but loads of talent and passion, please let them know of this opportunity.
If you or someone else has a genuine desire to share your vision of western music with the public, be it cowboy roots music, silver screen cowboy music, western swing or contemporary originals, then give me a
call. Let's work together to expand our range. I can be contacted at (830) 896-5598, or via my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org Biographies and audition materials can be sent to:
120 Hartshorn Drive
Kerrville, TX 78028-7607
I have never seen myself as a promoter of any kind, but I believe it is imperative to take the reins and do my part to further our cause. Thank you all for your time and attention, and I hope to hear from you soon. Good luck to all of you, and God bless you for your efforts in bringing this fine form of entertainment to the public, and for helping to preserve our wonderful western heritage.
Andy Hedges commented:
I'd just like to follow up [on what Dennis wrote] and say what a great time I had at the opening concert.
From a musician's perspective it was a great performing venue with no distractions and a very attentive crowd. The sound was excellent and Dennis's hand-built barn made a perfect back drop. The combination of the sun going down, a campfire off to the back, and lanterns scattered
around created a perfect atmosphere for making music. And, it was refreshing to actually get to play a full show, rather than a 15 minute set. The folks who attended seemed very excited about the concert series and they were a pleasure to perform for. Dennis was very organized and things such as sound check, product sales, directions, etc. went smoother than most big festivals I play.
And to top it all off, I got to spend the evening with Dennis and his lovely wife, Karen!
I commend Dennis for taking the chance and creating a new venue for our kind of music. I certainly recommend the gig to all you performers out there, and all of you non-performing cowboy music fans should start making plans to visit the Texas Hill Country and enjoy a great show in Kerrville!
My only complaint is having to follow a tough act like Dennis Gaines, but I don't guess any gig can be perfect!
Scott Bumgardner shared a report and photos from the May 19, 2005 event featuring Jean Prescott:
Western tunes were sung with grace and elegance on a beautiful day in Kerrville, Texas on Thursday, May 19, 2005. Jean Prescott. entertained the folks at the fourth evening of campfire gatherings, Dennis Gaines has held. Dennis is helping spread this cowboy art to new audiences right in his own backyard. He has a nice stage, which is backed by a very attractive barn and flanked by saddles. The attendees were very appreciative of Jean’s award winning music. The applause was hearty and between sets several people even hollered out their appreciation of her beautiful voice.
A local barbeque vendor, Buzzie’s was available for those who came hungry. You seldom see as much quality-smoked meat placed in a sandwich. So fed, parked, and entertained, the crowd relaxed and enjoyed a perfect evening as the Texas sunset provided brilliant colors and the shadowy deer crossed a pasture about two hundred yards away.
Dennis hosts his gatherings on the first and third Thursdays, bringing the best of western music and his own brand of humor to the stage. For upcoming show information call Dennis at: 830-896-5598
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