This is an additional page of coverage of the Western Folklife Center's 23rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
See page 1 here, which includes an index of pages.
Visit the Western Folklife Center web site for archived webcasts of events, audio and video coverage, and more.
Selected Books and Recordings Featured at the Gathering
Deep West Videos, from the Western Folklife Center
Songs and Stories from Sheepherding, from the Western Folklife Center
Open Range; Collected Poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, edited by Bill Siems
The Educated Fellers, music by Bill Siems and Ted Hensold
Home Land; Ranching and a West that Works, edited by Laura Pritchett
Songs from Why the Cowboy Sings, from the Western Folklife Center
Wild Provence, by Lorraine d'Entremont Rawls with J. Anne Lazarus
Two sessions at the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering screened short films made by ranching families, created for the Western Folklife Center's Deep West Video project. The films, most made by those with no prior filmmaking experience, offer up-close glimpses into the rural and ranch life of the West. The project is in its seventh year, and two DVDs are now available, each including a number of the short films.
Deep West Videos DVDs (2006 and 2007) are produced by the Western Folklife Center's Taki Telonidis and Founding Director Hal Cannon. The official description tells that they feature "... first hand stories rooted in the values of life on the land in first-hand stories of the people of the rural West, living their daily lives on the land. With the tools of digital communication in hand, our filmmakers make simple productions that are relevant, everyday stories of rural life and its values." The collections of short video pieces on the DVDs are accompanied by descriptive notes.
The subjects of the films cover a wide spectrum, all inspired by ranching life. The honest views are often remarkable in both their messages and their presentation. Every film—each in its unique way—speaks to the fragile existence of ranching in the West and each is an important piece of cultural preservation.
On the 2006 video, for example, there are lyrical pieces, such as "Mothering the West," written and narrated by poet and rancher Linda Hussa; "Winter Feeding Workout," a look at a day's work with a light twist by rancher Susan Church; a moving piece of reporting, "The Annual Christmas Program," which takes a look at a small rural community's annual event, and includes a recitation of Yvonne Hollenbeck's poem, "The Annual Christmas Program"; a meaningful piece, "Boot Camp," a portrait of bootmaker Jack Rowin by his apprentice; and others.
The 2007 video includes "Turning to Face the Wind," Jane Morton's film about her family's ranch and the effects of "progress." A photo from Jane's ranch adorns the cover of the video (see that photo and read more about it here). Other pieces on the 2007 collection include Robin Boies' "Highway Mythology," a thoughtful examination of the intersection of the "outside world" with her family's Nevada ranch; "Fifty Years of Brand Inspecting: A Peek at Harry Peter's Job"; "The Burn," a look at the forces of Nature; an unvarnished look at the "Facts of Wife"; and others.
Read more about Deep West Video project and view some of the short films on line at the Western Folklife Center web site.
The Deep West Videos DVDs are available from the Western Folklife Center bookstore.
A Friday night session at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering introduced a new Western Folklife Center Deep West Records CD, Songs and Stories from Sheepherding, the impressive result of a project over five years in the making. The show began with a rollicking, crowd-pleasing performance by Montana's Stan Howe singing his "Norwegian Sheepherder's Ball," which is also included on the CD.
Stan Howe at Elko, 2007
Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others here.
Other participants included Sharon O'Toole, Linda Hussa, Martin Goicoechea and Jesus Goni, The Ringling Five, and others in an evening of song, poetry, and storytelling.
The CD is described by the Western Folklife Center, "Hear the songs, verse and stories of shepherds who came to America to pursue the American Dream, including Scots, Scandinavians, Basques, Greeks, Iris, Mexicans and Peruvians. This historic collection is based on the expressive arts of sheep ranching—the "other" ranching tradition—and is bound to be a collector's item. This CD includes extensive notes, photos and translations to the songs and poems."
The 29 tracks include Sam A. Jackson's "Toast to the Sheepherder." Sam Jackson, who started herding sheep at age 11, comments that "The Songs and Stories from Sheepherding CD documents the history of a nearly forgotten industry that had much more to do with the successful settling of the west than most folks realize." Also included are selections by J. B. Allen (reciting Curley Fletcher's "Sheepherders Lament"), Rosalie Sorrels, Martin Goicoechea, Della Turner & the Deseret String Band, John "Jake" Fleming, Linda Hussa, Dee Blackburn, Diane Josephy Peavy, Ringling Five, and many others. The CD includes an informative booklet that contains a wealth of background information on each piece.
The Songs and Stories from Sheepherding CD is available from the Western Folklife Center bookstore.
The official release of Bill Siems' long-awaited volume, Open Range; Collected Poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, was announced at an exciting session at the recent Western Folklife Center's 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Surely the most important contemporary cowboy poetry book publication in recent times, this monumental 600-page work includes Bruce Kiskaddon's entire poetic output (481 poems); extensive illustrations (including 323 line drawings by Katherine Field, Amber Dunkerley, and others); biographical and historical introductions; prefaces by Hal Cannon, Waddie Mitchell, and Lynn Held; rare photographs, and more.
The collection, which Bill Siems has worked on for over four years, follows his impressive 2004 book, Bruce Kiskaddon, Shorty's Yarns, the first collection of Kiskaddon's short stories. See our feature about Bruce Kiskaddon here, and our feature about Shorty's Yarns here.
After the outstanding session about Open Range at National Cowboy Poetry Gathering—which included recitations of Kiskaddon poems by modern master reciters including Joel Nelson, Randy Rieman, Ross Knox, and others—a nearly block-long line of people queued for the opportunity to have Bill Siems autograph copies of this important work.
Open Range has been produced in a numbered, limited edition of 300 copies. There is also a limited edition of 26 leather bound books. (Through the generosity of a Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry/CowboyPoetry.com supporter and Bill Siems, we'll have a silent auction of one of the limited leather-bound editions of the book, along with other donated, rare Kiskaddon books, in March. We also look forward to posting extended feature about the book.)
Read more about Open Range, view excerpts and the table of contents, and find order information at the Open Range web site.
Bill Siems is also a performer of old-time music, including cowboy songs, and a reciter of classic cowboy poetry and a CD, The Educated Fellers, featuring Bill Siems and Ted Hensold was released in time for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
The title comes from the traditional poem and song, "The Zebra Dun," which was first published as "Educated Feller" in Jack Thorp's 1908 Songs of the Cowboys. "The Zebra Dun" is among the CD's 16 generous tracks of poetry and song (see the entire track list here), along with Badger Clark's "The Glory Trail"; Gail Gardner's "The Sierra Petes"; Curley Fletcher's "The Strawberry Roan" (recited by Bill Siems); "The Man on the Fence," and others by Bruce Kiskaddon, some set to music; the traditional "Goodbye Old Paint," and other traditional gems, including several obscure, interesting pieces.
One of the top cuts, "Dry and Dusty/Railroad Corral," with its spirited harmonica and guitar music, exemplifies the quality of the entire project. The liner notes for each track are informative, and will send anyone seriously interested in Western history, poetry, and music, on happy tangents to follow up on all that is included. Bill Siems' notes for "Dry and Dusty/Railroad Corral" are no exception: "I found the words and music for this trail driving story in Songs of the Open Range, by Ina Sires (Boston, 1928). Later I learned from John White's book, Git Along Little Dogies (Chicago, 1975) that the verses were written by Joseph Mills Hanson of South Dakota in 1904. The dusty cattle drive described in the song suggested the fiddle tune we start off with."
Bill Siems quips that he wanted to add to the notes, "'For best results, play in a moving truck' but I thought of it too late." The CD is available for $14.99 plus postage from Old Nighthawk Press, 2521 S Hatch Street, Spokane, WA 99203, 509-868-8402, and through www.OldNighthawkPress.com, where you can also find information about Open Range and Shorty's Yarns.
At the Gathering, a provocative panel discussion about ranchland sustainability and the "radical center" of people and organizations—many traditionally at odds—working together, included some of the contributors to a new collection of essays, Home Land; Ranching and a West That Works. At the start of the session, Teresa Jordan set the tone by reading her words from the book's Introduction, titled "Self-Reliance: Cooperation and the Reawakening of the American Spirit." In that introduction, she writes, "...across the West, pockets of optimism are developing where people with a broad spectrum of interests and beliefs have found ways to work together ..." Other contributors include Paul Zarzyski, James Galvin, Kim Stafford, Drum Hadley, Wallace McRae, Rick Bass, Linda Hussa, Mark Spragg, Diane Josephy Peavey, and others. Royalties from the book, a part of the Rocky Mountain Land Library, are being donated to the Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust. The book is available from Amazon and other booksellers.
Released at the Western Folklife Center's 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Songs from Why the Cowboy Sings includes the entire soundtrack from their Emmy Award-winning documentary, Why the Cowboy Sings. From the official description of the film:
Why the Cowboy Sings is a video journey to four remote ranches in the middle of winter, the season when cowboys have time to compose and sing music. We meet Larry and Toni Schutte who ranch on northern Nevada’s sagebrush ocean. Their songs reverberate with faith and spirituality. At 75, Glenn Ohrlin ranches in the hills of Arkansas and is considered by many to be the greatest traditional cowboy singer alive. Henry Real Bird is a Crow Indian who says that being a cowboy is as close to being an Indian as you can get. Stephanie Davis comes from a ranching family who lost their land in the 1940's; however, a hit song about a lost ranch allowed her to buy back the life she loved.
Produced by the Western Folklife Center in collaboration with KUED-Channel 7 in Salt Lake City, Why the Cowboy Sings was featured as part of the Olympic Arts Festival for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games.
You can view video clips and learn more about the documentary at the KUED web site.
The Songs from Why the Cowboy Sings CD includes 16 tracks:1. "Prairie in the Sky," Tom Russell (Mary McCaslin)
2. "La Primera," Larry Schutte (Ian Tyson)
3. "Ten Pretty Girls," Western Folklife Center String Band (traditional)
4. "Git Along Little Dogies," Buck Ramsey (traditional)
5. "Whoopie Ti-Yi-Yo, Get Along Little Dogies," Woodie Guthrie and Cisco Huston (traditional)
6. "As I Went Walking One Morning for Pleasure," Harry Jackson (traditional)
7. "A Prisoner for Life," Skip Gorman (traditional)
8. "There's Music in the Air, Way Out West" Sourdough Slim (Richard Crowder)
9. "Elko Blues," Ian Tyson
10. "Nighttime in Nevada," Larry Schutte (Pascoe, Dulmage and Clint)
11. "Morning Grub Holler," Harry Jackson12. "I'm From the Wolf Teeth Mountains," Henry Real Bird13. "Wyoming Home" Deseret String Band (traditional)14. "Beautiful Utah," Myron Crandall15. "Nevada," Riata Brown16. "Prairie Lullaby," Stephanie Davis
The Songs from Why the Cowboy Sings CD is available for $15 plus postage from the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop.
The impressive Wild Provence, by Lorraine d'Entremont Rawls with J. Anne Lazarus, invites readers to "savor the lives and flavors of France's cowboys of the Camarque." The result of years of research, the book was released at the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering to complement the Gathering's celebration of guest cowboys, poets, and musicians from the Camarque. Wild Provence gives a deep look into the lives and traditions of the region's "gardian" cowboys as well as the life and food of the Camarque.
Charlie Seemann, Director of the Western Folklife Center, comments that the book "...brings to the attention of the American public a ranching culture little known in this country, and illustrating yet again the parallels between people who make their living raising horses and cattle around the world."
The attractive book includes many of Lorraine d'Entremont Rawls' stunning black and white photos. View more of her photography and learn more about the Camargue at her web site.
(Read a review of Wild Provence by Rick Huff here at the BAR-D.)
Wild Provence is available for $20 postage paid from Lorraine Rawls, P.O. Box 989, Talent, Oregon 97540, from her web site, and from Amazon and other booksellers.
More about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
posted here at the BAR-D
With special thanks to Archivist Steve Green of Western Folklife Center, in a feature celebrating the 20th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, we have program information that includes program covers, information and lists of invited performers for each year's Gathering.
Other features in that section include:
- recollections from the performers and from the audience about their "first time" at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
- poems celebrating the Gathering
We also maintain an index of all of the invited performers to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, since its inception in 1985.
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