Featured at the Bar-D Ranch

Find news below about Western Folklife Center's 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

(See reports and more from the 2008 Gathering here.) 

 

Visit the Western Folklife Center web site for webcasts, audio and video features, and more.

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.  

 


 

Below:

 

From Our News






 

Heather Hafleigh's post-Elko broadcast
Deep West videos
Jeri Dobrowski's photo gallery
Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio post-Elko show
KNPR broadcasts
Calling All Cowboys
post-Elko show
Celebrating 25 Years of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2-
CD set
Cybercasts
Elko Daily Free Press coverage
Ranch Rhymes broadcast
Pat Richardson article
Rusty McCall article
Calling All Cowboys special coverage
Yvonne Hollenbeck in Ways of the West
Jeri Dobrowski's Cowboy Jam Session column
Complete event schedule now available
Cowboys & Indians gathering coverage
Western Horseman
gathering coverage
Between Grass and Sky: Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem exhibit


Anniversary Quilt

January/February 2009 Rope Burns BAR-D column

2009 Audio and Video Releases from the Western Folklife Center


Celebrating 25 Years of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2-CD set
Deep West videos DVD


Western Folklife Center Ranch Rhymes Podcasts

Western Folklife Center Media Releases and News
Trappings of the Ranching Life on-line exhibit
January, 2009
December, 2008
September, 2008

Performers


 


From Our News

 

  Heather Hafleigh ( www.heatherhafleigh.com ) presented her annual "guest DJ" stint on Larry Kelp's "Sing Out" radio show on KPFA/Pacifica radio, March 18, 2009. Heather notes, "The show is mostly showcasing music and poetry from the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering out of Elko, Nevada. I also take some liberties to include other songs about the cowboy life and horses in general."

Included were tracks from
Ray Doyle, Wylie & the Wild West, Paul Zarzyski, Wallace McRae, Corb Lund,
Randy Rieman
, Tom Russell, Waddie Mitchell, Gretchen Peters, Linda Hasselstrom, Ian Tyson, Cowboy Celtic, Katy Moffat, and many others.

Listen to an archive of the program
here, available until April 1, 2009.

[Thanks to Paul Zarzyski for information about the show]

Posted 3/19
 


The post-Elko show features artists who performed at the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and includes Wylie & the Wild West, DW Groethe, Jon Chandler, Doris Daley, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Corb Lund, Paul Zarzyski, Dave Bourne, Ernie Sites, Dave Stamey, Susan Parker, Bob Petermann, Dennis Golden And Tom Weatherby, Elizabeth Ebert, Ernie Martinez, The Quebe Sisters, and Riders in the Sky.

Calling All Cowboys aired two pre-Elko shows, described below.

Posted 2/6


  The Western Folklife Center has released the 2-CD set, Celebrating 25 Years: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, in honor of 2009's 25th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. And a celebration it is, an impressive survey of the modern cowboy and Western poetry and music movement they ignited with their first gathering in 1985.

The CDs feature one song and one poem from each of the past 25 years. These live recordings are, as Western Folklife Center Executive Director Charlie Seemann writes in the liner notes, "some of the most memorable performances from each year" that "capture the moment."  See the complete track lists in our feature about the 2009 gathering here, with links to some of the poets, musicians, poems, and songs.

The poetry CD preserves some of the important voices of the past, including Slim Kite, Ken Trowbridge, Sunny Hancock, JB Allen, and Colen Sweeten. Those voices from the earliest years may have been lost forever, if not for the important treasury of recordings from the Western Folklife Center archives The finest contemporary reciters and poets are represented, including Joel Nelson, Randy Rieman, Vess Quinlan, Linda Hussa, Paul Zarzyski, Jerry Brooks, Ross Knox and others, reciting their own work and classics by authors including Bruce Kiskaddon, Charles Badger Clark, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Curley Fletcher, and others. It's hard to single out the top tracks, as hard as it must have been to select from the thousands of hours of recordings by hundreds of poets to create the CD. Two standouts, for example, exemplify the depth and quality of the recording: Wallace McRae's "Things of Intrinsic Worth" speaks passionately to the challenges faced by the rural West, and Virginia Bennett's "We Are the Poets" touches at the heart of the spirit and soul of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The music selections shine with excellence. Gary McMahan's 1985 performance of his modern classic, "The Ol' Double Diamond" sets the bar high at the start, and it is maintained throughout. Many of the other songs are considered modern classics as well, most from now-legendary cowboy and Western singers including Glenn Ohrlin, Buck Ramsey, Stephanie Davis, Don Edwards, Tom Russell, Red Steagall, Wylie & the Wild West, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Sourdough Slim, Lorraine Rawls, Ian Tyson, and others. The selections are a perfect reflectionof the broad range of themes and styles offered by today's best, from Michael Martin Murphey's outstanding rendition of Charles Badger Clark's "Spanish is the Loving Tongue (A Border Affair)" to Gail Steiger's realistic portrait of the real working West, "Romance of Western Life," to the dazzling fiddles of the young Quebe Sisters Band on their "Speed the Plow Medley." Every single track is a keeper.

The CDs were produced by Charlie Seemann with Steve Green, Taki Telonidis, and Hal Cannon, with contributing producers E.W. Littlefield, Jr. and John M. Koelsch. Top Western artist Buckeye Blake's work graces the cover.  

When it comes time to pack for that proverbial desert island, you'll want to take this one with you.

Celebrating 25 Years: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is available herefrom the Western Folklife Center gift shop.

Posted 2/5


  "Cybercasts," audio and video broadcasts of many of the biggest shows from the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, are available for listening and viewing here at the Western Folklife Center web site.

Posted 2/3


The Elko Daily Free Press has reports and photos from the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, including: "A hot time in Elkotown: Sold-out shows were the norm at Friday’s Gathering"; "A Swingin' Good Time"; and "Solving the Mystery Show."

Posted 2/3


The newest Ranch Rhymes: Cowboy Poetry and Music from the Western Folklife Center Archives podcast celebrates the 25th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering with a poem from the first gathering, a 1985 recording of Waddie Mitchell reciting "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service.

Between Grass and Sky, an impressive film produced by Jerry Dugan (FLF Films), features top poets and reciters Joel Nelson, Jerry Brooks, and Andy Hedges reciting Buck Ramsey's "Anthem," the prologue to his master work, Grass. (The film begins with Buck Ramsey's voice.)

View the film here at the UeBERSEE web site, where there are additional photos of the associated exhibit which is at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada (through May 17, 2009). The Nevada Museum of art conceived and commissioned the work, and provided this description:

The poem Grass has impacted generations of cowboy poets throughout the American West. This audiovisual presentation features an original rendition of recitations by three renowned cowboy poets combined with a 1993 recording of Ramsey’s voice. Joel Nelson, a dear friend of Ramsey’s, owns and operates a ranch outside of Alpine, Texas. Andy Hedges, a young cowboy poet and musician, lives and works in Lubbock, Texas. Jerry Brooks, of Sevier, Utah, is one of the most respected reciters of Grass. Together, these poets’ voices pay tribute to the legacy of Buck Ramsey’s words and the universal themes they evoke.

The exhibit's artistic direction was by Nik Hafermaas, UeBersee Inc., Los Angeles.

The exhibit was created in conjunction with the Western Folklife Center. A media release describes the Reno exhibit:

This exhibition of contemporary artwork by artists such as Scott Hudson, Adam Jahiel and Theodore Waddell, offers fresh insight into the varied experiences arising from life in rural and ranching communities. Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem will also include an audiovisual component—the recitation of Grass, a poem by Buck Ramsey, by three renowned cowboy poets, Joel Nelson and Andy Hedges from Texas, and Jerry Brooks from Utah. This exhibition is presented as part of the Art + Environment series, an initiative of the Nevada Museum of Art that brings together community, artists and scholars to explore the interaction between people and their environments.

Between Grass and Sky brings together a diverse range of contemporary artworks, whose subjects echo the poignant lines of Buck Ramsey's poem Grass and suggest that the American West continues to be a place of relentless change," said Ann Wolfe, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Nevada Museum of Art. "This exhibition—presented on the occasion of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering—encourages visitors to explore the transformations occurring in the West from the viewpoint of poets and artists."

Buck Ramsey's poem Grass was selected as the basis for these exhibitions because it eloquently engages with a range of themes and ideas that resonate with anyone who has spent time among the open spaces of the American West. Foremost among these themes is the recognition of rhythm as an essential component of nature and cowboy life—a quality that is also reflected in the cadence of cowboy poetry. Whether focused on the essence of life on the range, or exploring the disruption of natural range cycles, the works selected for the exhibition elicit a variety of visual rhythms.

Read the entire media release here in our news from the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Chapters from Buck Ramsey's Grass, recorded in his voice, are included on each volume of The BAR-D Roundup. See our feature about the book-length poem here.

Updated 3/4


  Two sessions at the 2009 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering screened short films created for the Western Folklife Center's Deep West Video project. The films, most made by those with no prior filmmaking experienceoffer up-close glimpses into the rural and ranch life of the West. The 2009 films are available on DVD and for viewing on line here at the Western Folklife Center web site.

Deep West Videos are produced by the Western Folklife Center's Taki Telonidis and Founding Director Hal Cannon. The official description of the project's mission tells that they feature "... first hand stories from the rural West that are rooted in the values of life on the land." The first films were released in 2000.

As we've described in reviews of earlier DVDs of the videos (2006 and 2007 and 2008), the subjects of the films cover a wide spectrum. The honest views are often remarkable in both their messages and their presentation. Almost 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.

The 2009 films, an outstanding collection, include "At the Edge of the Aquifer," by poet and writer Jane Ambrose Morton and Bob Luttrell, about a cowboy living on the Ambrose ranch in Colorado and the water issues he faces; "My Journey on the Promise Road," Gwendolyn Trice's story of her African American roots in Maxville, Oregon; "Traffic Report," a look at Nevada's wide open spaces, from Linda and Carolyn Dufurenna; "The Best of Two Worlds" by Nevada rancher and teacher Cheryl Turner; and Whit Deschner's "Triggers and Tribles" about his wife's ever-growing herd of horses.

Read more and view these and past years' films at the Western Folklife Center web site area for the Deep West Video project.

Posted 3/6


Jeri Dobrowski has a gallery of photos from the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at her web site. Some will be included in forthcoming stories about the gathering. Prints are available for purchase.

Her site also includes a gallery of Western Entertainers and Personalities and galleries from many events.

Jeri Dobrowski, a journalist as well as a photographer, writes the popular monthly Cowboy Jam Session column.

Posted 2/26


The award-winning Clear Out West (C. O. W.) radio show with Andy Nelson and Jim Nelson presents its annual post-Elko show, available here on the web, which they describe:

This week the C.O.W. boys are reporting on their trip to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko Nevada. Along with the lowdown on this tremendous annual event, you'll also hear some great music from The Quebe Sisters ("So Long to the Red River Valley"), DW Groethe ("Ridin' that Trail"), Hot Club of Cowtown ("Hand Me Down My Old Guitar"), and Wylie and the Wild West ("To Ride"). We also have some great cowboy poetry this week from Paul Zarzyski ("The Roughstockaholics Just One More Last One Blues"). Of course we'll have the ever popular Dick's Pick ("The Chickens Grow Tall in Arkansas"), This Week in the Old West, Farrier's File, and a whole bunch of goofin' off too!

Clear Out West (C. O. W.) is broadcast weekly throughout the West from Pinedale, Wyoming, syndicated to dozens of radio stations, bringing "News and Entertainment of the Cowboy Culture" to a wide audience. Andy and Jim, the "C.O.W. boys"—known widely for the wild humor they bring to cowboy poetry gatherings and their rodeo and sports announcing—feature western music, cowboy poetry, and more on their popular show

Posted 2/17


  Nevada's KNPR radio has in-depth coverage of the 25th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, including a three-part broadcast Adam Burke and Dave Becker, Nevada Public Radio Director of Programming:

Part 1 includes commentary on the history and foundation of the gathering; Waddie Mitchell and his poetry; an interview with Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel and "A Ride with Bob," presented at the Gathering, with more about the show's focus, Bob Wills; and John Dofflemyer and his poetry.

Part 2 includes commentary about former
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and her keynote speech; commentary on what it means to be a rural American; Glenn Ohrlin and his singing of "Boomer Johnson" by S. Omar Barker; about the sense of "the tribe" and the loyalty of the audience, with some comments; a description of Elko; Paul Zarzyski and his poetry; and Michael Martin Murphey singing "Red River Valley."

Part 3 includes recitations and more from
Baxter Black; and interview with Hal Cannon, Founding Director of the Gathering; poetry by Elizabeth Ebert and Peggy Godfrey; commentary about Wylie Gustafson and yodeling history and more about Wylie & the Wild West; the relationship between "Beats" and cowboy poets, and more.

(Scroll down from the main page to find the broadcasts, and the link takes you to the appropriate news page, where you can scroll down and click to "listen.")

There are many additional resources and audio downloads, and Adam Burke's blog includes photos.

Posted 2/9


   The Calling All Cowboys radio program has a post-Elko show, airing February 4-11. The weekly, two-hour show from Bend, Oregon, hosted by Charley Engel ("Chuckaroo the Buckaroo"), includes cowboy music, cowboy poetry, and interviews. It is broadcast live on Wednesdays at 6 PM and rebroadcast Sundays at 8AM. Each current show is available on demand for one week at the Calling All Cowboys web site.

Listen to the podcast here.

(The 2008 edition of The BAR-D Roundup includes Robert Service's own recording of the poem.)

The Ranch Rhymes recordings, presented by Ross Fuqua, are drawn mostly from the Western Folklife Center Archives. The broadcasts are available on demand for listening on the web or for downloading as podcasts.

Other recent Ranch Rhymes programs feature the wildly popular Wylie & the Wild West; popular poets Doris Daley, Rodney Nelson, and Pat Richardson; singer and songwriter Mary McCaslin; legendary musician and music historian Glenn Orhlin; top cowboy poet Baxter Black; Arizona cowboy, singer and songwriter Gail Steiger and Wyoming rancher and poet Kent Stockton; cowboy singer and songwriter Dave Stamey and 16-year old phenomenon Adrian Utah; reciter Jerry Brooks; North Dakota rancher and poet Rodney Nelson; South Dakota ranch wife and poet Yvonne Hollenbeck; master reciter and respected Randy Rieman; California rancher and poet John Dofflemyer; Montana rancher, writer and poet Wallace McRae; respected cowboy troubadour and music historian Don Edwards; Australian bush poet Milton Taylor and Washington poet Dick Warwick; Utah  poet Jo Lynne Kirkwood; Montana ranch hand, singer, songwriter, and poet DW Groethe; the late cowboy, poet, and reciter Sunny Hancock; and others.

Find all of the Ranch Rhymes programs here at the Western Folklife Center web site.

[Photo: Donald Kallaus]

Posted 2/3
 


  California poet Pat Richardson, returning to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for the tenth time in 2009, is featured in a January 24, 2008 article by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco, "Merced's Cowboy Poet," in the Merced Sun-Star. The feature article also includes video, audio, and photographs. Read the article here.

See our feature about Pat Richardson here, and visit his web site at www.patrichardsonpoet.com.

[photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck]

Posted 1/26


  Poet and reciter Rusty McCall—who has faced multiple surgeries, radiation, and ongoing treatment for his neurofibromatosis conditionwill perform at the 25th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, despite his serious hearing and balance problems. Rusty made his first appearance at the gathering at age 3, in 1989. He has performed there many times since, sometimes along with other the other poets and reciters in his ranching family, including his parents, Dave and Deanna McCall, and his sisters Terri and Katie. Rusty faces major brain tumor surgery soon after this year's event.

A January 23, 2008 article by Steve Crump, "One Very Brave Idaho Cowboy Poet," in Idaho's Times News, tells more about Rusty's experience and health challenges. Rusty attended the College of Southern Idaho.

Posted 1/26


  Two shows celebrating the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will air on Calling All Cowboys, a weekly, two-hour show from Bend, Oregon. The show, hosted by Charley Engel ("Chuckaroo the Buckaroo"), includes cowboy music, cowboy poetry, and interviews. It is broadcast live on Wednesdays at 6 PM and rebroadcast Sundays at 8AM. Each current show is available on demand for one week at the Calling All Cowboys web site.

 Host Charley Engel ("Chuckaroo the Buckaroo") describes the shows:

For the fourth year in a row, Calling All Cowboys will be featuring a couple of "All Elko" programs just prior to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering held each year in Elko, Nevada. Host, Chuckaroo The Buckaroo (aka Charley Engel) will spin cowboy poetry, music and big windies recorded live at the premier cowboy poetry festival in the world. To help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the NCPG, each of the two pre-gathering shows will be packed with as many performers that have appeared in Elko in the past 25 years as possible. There will be a nice balance of acts with some sets representing how an actual performance in Elko sounds, complete with introductions and stage patter. Many of the performances are not available any where else, making this presentation venue unique, as well as highly entertaining.

Expect to hear from the likes of Waddie Mitchell
, Paul Zarzyski, Sourdough Slim, The Quebe Sisters Band, Glenn Ohrlin, Henry Real Bird, Virginia Bennett, Dave Stamey, Stephanie Davis, Wallace McRae, and many others.

To hear these two shows follow this link http://www.kpov.org/index.php?option=com_shows&task=view&id=57 and look for "Show Archive" on the left hand side of the page. Each program will be archived for one week under the "Most Recent" link. They will be available after 6 PM on Wednesday, January 21 and January 28 respectively.

Posted 1/19


Award-winning South Dakota poet, ranchwife, and champion quilter Yvonne Hollenbeck is featured in the Winter, 2008/2009 issue of Ways of the West, the Western Folklife Center members' newsletter, in a front-page article, "
Patchwork and Poetry

Yvonne Hollenbeck has created an impressive work to commemorate the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering's 25th anniversary: a brand quilt. She dedicated many hundreds of hours to the project, which contains 160 blocks with the brands of past participants. Performers and their families supplied their brands, and some created their own quilt blocks. The quilt will be on permanent display at the Western Folklife Center. Yvonne told us, “The quilt was made entirely by hand in the traditional method of quilt making from the pioneer days. I did all of the quilting with a thimble that my great-grandmother Sarah Carr used in her sod house, to make her own quilts."

The article in Ways of the West includes excerpts from an interview by folklorist Laura Marcus, in which Yvonne talks about the quilt and her inspiration for its design and about her quilting techniques. Yvonne also comments about the preservation of ranching and cowboy culture, "...we're preserving it through our poetry and music, and it's so important that we do that because things are changing and the West is changing and there are things that have already died out that are never going to come back again..."

A recent Ranch Rhymes: Cowboy Poetry and Music from the Western Folklife Center Archives podcast features Yvonne Hollenbeck reciting her poem, "The Christmas Quilt," recorded at the 2004 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Listen to the recording here.

See our feature about the 25th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering here, and visit the Western Folklife Center web site for complete information about the event.

Posted 1/19


The January, 2009 edition of Jeri Dobrowski's Cowboy Jam Session
column, titled "Silver State hosts silver anniversary of National Cowboy Poetry Gathering," covers the history of the event and highlights the resources available for all: those planning to attend as well as those tuning in to various aspects from afar.

Read the January, 2009 edition of Cowboy Jam Session

Posted 1/19


 

  The performer information at the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering now includes audio and web links for each of the participants. In many cases, there are full-length poems or songs from past gatherings. Find the performer information here at the official gathering web site.

Posted 1/14


 Briggs Hill, two-year-old son of popular singer and songwriter Brenn Hill and Sylina Hill had surgery for the removal of a massive brain tumor in early November, 2008, and continues to undergo challenging treatment.

There are frequent updates on Briggs at a Care Page here: www.carepages.com/carepages/briggshill. Brenn Hill writes, in a January 13, 2009 update, that "my good friend and songwriting mentor Ian Tyson will be hosting a special benefit concert at the G Three Bar Theater in the Western Folklife Center at the Elko Gathering this month. It's a midnight concert, Friday January 31st, and as far as I know, it's open to the public." Read Brenn's additional touching comments here.

See our page with more information and additional ways to help the family here.

Posted 1/14


  The complete event schedule for the Western Folklife Center's 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is now available here (pdf file) at the Gathering web site. The schedule lists every session and every ticketed show. Of particular interest this year is an on-going "Off the Page" session, in which all invited poets will participate. Each poet is given 15 minutes to recite poetry, read prose, or improvise. Those sessions will be recorded and broadcast on the Western Folkife Center web site at a later date. Non-ticketed events are open to all at no charge.

Posted 1/12


  The January, 2009 issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine highlights the Western Folklife Center's 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in a feature, "Gathering in Elko," by Frederick J. Chiaventone. The feature includes a spotlight on top cowboy poet Baxter Black, who tells about the first gathering and includes his advice about how to enjoy the many events at the Gathering.

Posted 1/7


  The January, 2009 issue of Western Horseman includes Montana writer Ryan T. Bell's extensive feature, "Catch the Train to Elko," in celebration of the Western Folklife Center's 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The article includes recollections from Founding Director Hal Cannon and from poets Wallace McRae, Joel Nelson, and Ross Knox. There is a timeline of Gathering history (which includes poet Paul Bliss' 330 mile ride horseback to attend the gathering in 1999), along with a story about the pioneering performers. Photographs of many of the popular poets and musicians accompany the article, including those of Waddie Mitchell, Andy Wilkinson, Paul Zarzyski, Glenn Ohrlin, Don Edwards, Milton Taylor, and others.

The article is augmented by on-line blog entries by Ryan T. Bell. To date, those include "Elko Guide: 5 Workshops," "Elko:Trappings of a Ranch Life" and "Elko: My Top Five."

Find the blog entries and more at the Western Horseman web site.

Posted 1/6


  The Nevada Museum of Art and the Western Folklife Center
will present Between Grass and Sky: Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem, an exhibit with a focus on the late Buck Ramsey's master work, Grass, which features recitations by Jerry Brooks (pictured), Joel Nelson, and Andy Hedges. The exhibit will be presented in both locations (Reno and Elko) starting in January. From a Western Folklife Center media release:

This exhibition of contemporary artwork by artists such as Scott Hudson, Adam Jahiel and Theodore Waddell, offers fresh insight into the varied experiences arising from life in rural and ranching communities. Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem will also include an audiovisual component—the recitation of Grass, a poem by Buck Ramsey, by three renowned cowboy poets, Joel Nelson and Andy Hedges from Texas, and Jerry Brooks from Utah. This exhibition is presented as part of the Art + Environment series, an initiative of the Nevada Museum of Art that brings together community, artists and scholars to explore the interaction between people and their environments.

"Between Grass and Sky brings together a diverse range of contemporary artworks, whose subjects echo the poignant lines of Buck Ramsey's poem Grass and suggest that the American West continues to be a place of relentless change," said Ann Wolfe, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Nevada Museum of Art. "This exhibition—presented on the occasion of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering—encourages visitors to explore the transformations occurring in the West from the viewpoint of poets and artists."

Buck Ramsey's poem Grass was selected as the basis for these exhibitions because it eloquently engages with a range of themes and ideas that resonate with anyone who has spent time among the open spaces of the American West. Foremost among these themes is the recognition of rhythm as an essential component of nature and cowboy life—a quality that is also reflected in the cadence of cowboy poetry. Whether focused on the essence of life on the range, or exploring the disruption of natural range cycles, the works selected for the exhibition elicit a variety of visual rhythms.

Read the entire media release here in our news from the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Chapters from Buck Ramsey's Grass, recorded in his voice, are included on each volume of The BAR-D Roundup. See our feature about the book-length poem here.

[Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others here.]

Posted 12/3
 


Anniversary Quilt

As reported below, award-winning South Dakota poet, ranchwife, and champion quilter Yvonne Hollenbeck conceived and created an incomparable work to commemorate the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering: a brand quilt.

Yvonne dedicated many hundreds of hours to the project, which contains 160 blocks with the brands of past participants. Performers and their families supplied their brands, and some created their own quilt blocks. The quilt will be on permanent display at the Western Folklife Center.


A detail of the quilt, showing the full blocks for John Dofflemyer, Bob Campbell, Richard Elloyan, and DW Groethe


Colen Sweeten's brand


A detail of the quilt, showing the full blocks for Katy Moffat, Carolyn Dufurrena, Baxter Black, and Stephanie Davis.
The bottom left shows a portion of Alice and Sunny Hancock's registered "outhouse" brand.

Yvonne comments, “The quilt was made entirely by hand in the traditional method of quilt making from the pioneer days.  I did all of the quilting with a thimble that my great-grandmother Sarah Carr used in her sod house, to make her own quilts."


Yvonne Hollenbeck working on the quilt


January/February 2009 Rope Burns column:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                

In 1985, a small mid-winter gathering of cowboy poets in Elko, Nevada spawned the world of cowboy poetry and music gatherings as we know them. The event, now known as the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, celebrates its 25th anniversary January 24-31, 2008 (www.westernfolklife.org). More than 50 poets (including 15  who participated in the 1985 gathering) and 24 musicians and music groups will participate in the event, which also includes workshops, panel discussions, lectures, exhibits, films, dances, and more.

 

Beloved poet Colen Sweeten (1919-2007) was invited to the first gathering, and returned twenty-three times. Early in the event's history, he wrote this poem:

 

Elko
 

They came to the mid-winter gath'ring,
Leaving haystacks and dehorning chutes.
Dressed true to old west tradition,
Levis, Stetsons, and high heeled boots.

A few were in casts or on crutches,
Some looked like I'd seen them before.
Each wore the hat no one touches
And had high polished boots on the floor.

The faces were brown as a saddle.
Some mustaches wide as a door.
And they walked with a half cocked straddle,
Like the part that they sit on was sore.

Their poetry, sprinkled with sagebrush,
Was not meant for the city galoots.
And there each one sat in his ten gallon hat,
And a cow and a half worth of boots.

© 1987, Colen Sweeten, All rights reserved

Colen Sweeten’s name will live on at the gathering in a special way. Award-winning South Dakota poet, ranchwife, and champion quilter Yvonne Hollenbeck conceived and created an incomparable work to commemorate the 25th anniversary: a brand quilt. She dedicated many hundreds of hours to the project, which contains 160 blocks with the brands of past participants. Performers and their families supplied their brands, and some created their own quilt blocks. The quilt will be on permanent display at the Western Folklife Center. Yvonne comments, “The quilt was made entirely by hand in the traditional method of quilt making from the pioneer days.  I did all of the quilting with a thimble that my great-grandmother Sarah Carr used in her sod house, to make her own quilts."


Yvonne’s traveling trunk show, “Five Generations of Quilts,” includes her family quilts and stories and poems inspired by her ancestors and other pioneer women of the Plains. It has been offered at many venues, festivals, and cowboy poetry gatherings. Here’s one of her quilt poems:


Patchwork of the Prairie

 

She called it "patchwork of the prairie"

and I never understood
how one who had so little
could make quilts that looked so good.

 

She used a lot of tiny scraps
and wasted not one thing;
just tiny pieces of the past
to form a Wedding Ring.

 

Dresden Plate or Sawtooth Star,
the list went on and on
of quilts she pieced by oil light
'till all her scraps were gone.

 

She lived there on a homestead
on the South Dakota plain;
it was there in her old soddy
that she stitched away the pain

 

of hardships only known to those
who came to pave the way
so we could have the kind of life
we all enjoy today.

 

She said she loved the prairie
and the years of living there;
it was where she raised her family
and her prairie home was where

 

she made those lovely patchwork quilts
and they will always be
more than “patchwork of the prairie”
'cause they're grandma's legacy.

 

© 2005, Yvonne Hollenbeck, All rights reserved

Yvonne Hollenbeck’s most recent CD, Pieces of the Past, was named the 2008 Top Cowboy Poetry CD by the Western Music Association. Her 2005 book, From My Window and other poems, received the Academy of Western Artists’ Will Rogers Medallion Award. It includes a section of poems about quilts and quilters. Visit her web site, www.YvonneHollenbeck.com for more about her CDs, books, and quilt show.

 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume III CD includes poems recited by Robert Service, Red Steagall, Wallace McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Randy Rieman, Ross Knox, Jerry Brooks, Buck Ramsey, Joel Nelson, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Paul Kern, Linda Kirkpatrick, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Andy Nelson, Susan Parker, Pat Richardson, Georgie Sicking, Bill Siems, Jay Snider, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Hal Swift, Mick Vernon, and Smoke Wade,  with a PSA by Francie Ganje. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by  people like you.  Please join us!
 

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


2009 Audio and Video Releases from the Western Folklife Center

 

Celebrating 25 Years

 

Poetry CD

1985 — "The Old Timers" (traditional) by Ken Trowbridge
1986 — "Winter in Rock Creek" (traditional) by Slim Kite
1987 — "Lasca" (Frank Desprez) by Tom Eaton
1988 — "The Flying Outlaw" (Curley Fletcher) by Waddie Mitchell
1989 — "The Little Blue Roan" (Bruce Kiskaddon) by Ross Knox
1990 — "The Pearl of Them All" (Will Ogilvie) by Bill Gunn
1991 — "True Grit" by Elizabeth Ebert
1992 — "Utah Carl" (traditional) by Ray Lashley
1993 — "The Bad Half Hour" (Charles Badger Clark) by Matt Urrey
1994 — "The Bronco Twister's Prayer" (Bruce Kiskaddon) by Yula Sue Hunting
1995 — "Anthem (Grass)" (Buck Ramsey) by Joel Nelson
1996 — "To Be a Top Hand" by Georgie Sicking
1997 — "Purt Near" (S. Omar Barker) by Randy Rieman
1998 — "Bucking Horse Moon" by Paul Zarzyski
1999 — "Ballad of Yukon Jake" (Edward H. Paramore, Jr.) by Sunny Hancock
2000 — "Where the Ponies Come to Drink" (Henry Herbert Knibbs) by Vess Quinlan
2001 — "Purty Ain't Pardners" by J.B. Allen
2002 — "On a Cold Clear Calving Night" by Linda Hussa
2003 — "The Windmill Song" by Colen Sweeten
2004 — "We Are the Poets" by Virginia Bennett
2005 — "Death of the Last Cowhand" by Linda Hasselstrom
2006 — "Things of Intrinsic Worth" by Wallace McRae
2007 — "Hay for Horses" by John Dofflemyer
2008 — "Legend of Boastful Bill" (Charles Badger Clark) by Jerry Brooks
 

Music CD

1985 — "Old Double Diamond" by Gary McMahan
1986 — "Old Paint" (traditional) by John Nielson
1987 — "Boomer Johnson"
(Henry Herbert Knibbs) by Glenn Ohrlin
1988 — "Owl's Lullaby" (traditional) by Clyde Halemumau "Kindy" Sproat
1989 — "Bound for the Rio Grande" (Bob Nolan) by Sons of the San Joaquin
1990 — "Spanish is the Loving Tongue" (Charles Badger Clark) by Michael Martin Murphey
1991 — "Silver Lake Blues" (Bob Wills) by Texas Playboys
1992 — "The Campfire Has Gone Out" (traditional) by Don Edwards
1993 — "Trail to Mexico" (traditional) by (Buck Ramsey)
1995 — "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" (traditional) by R.W. Hampton
1996 — "Cold & Lonely Night" by Mike Beck
1997 — "Rose of San Joaquin" by Tom Russell
1998 — "Plains Born" (Charles Badger Clark) by Lorraine Rawls
1999 — "That's How the Yodel Was Born" (Ranger Doug Green) by Riders in the Sky
2000 — "Wolves" by Stephanie Davis
2001 — "Yodeling Cowhand" (Wylie Gustafson) by Wylie & the Wild West
2002 — "Romance of Western Life" by Gail Steiger
2003 — "Little High Plains Town" by Ian Tyson
2004 — "Diamond Joe" (traditional) by Ramblin' Jack Elliott
2005 — "The Wagon Tongue" by Red Steagall
2006 — "Speed the Plow Medley" (traditional)  by Quebe Sisters Band
2007 — "Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas" by Sourdough Slim, Whit Smith's Hot Jazz Caravan, and Dave Bourne
2008 — "Big Balls in Cowtown" (traditional) by Johnny Gimble
2009 — "Catalogue Dreams" (Joni Harms and Jim Varsos) by Joni Harms

 

 

The Western Folklife Center has released the 2-CD set, Celebrating 25 Years: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, in honor of 2009's 25th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. And a celebration it is, an impressive survey of the modern cowboy and Western poetry and music movement they ignited with their first gathering in 1985.

The CDs feature one song and one poem from each of the past 25 years. These live recordings are, as Western Folklife Center Executive Director Charlie Seemann writes in the liner notes, "some of the most memorable performances from each year" that "capture the moment." 

The poetry CD preserves some of the important voices of the past, including Slim Kite, Ken Trowbridge, Sunny Hancock, JB Allen, and Colen Sweeten. Those voices from the earliest years may have been lost forever, if not for the important treasury of recordings in the Western Folklife Center archives. The finest contemporary reciters and poets are represented, including Joel Nelson, Randy Rieman, Vess Quinlan, Linda Hussa, Paul Zarzyski, Jerry Brooks, Ross Knox and others, reciting their own work and classics by authors including Bruce Kiskaddon, Charles Badger Clark, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Curley Fletcher, and others. It's hard to single out the top tracks, as hard as it must have been to select from the thousands of hours of recordings by hundreds of poets to create the CD. Two standouts, for example, exemplify the depth and quality of the recording: Wallace McRae's "Things of Intrinsic Worth" speaks passionately to the challenges faced by the rural West, and Virginia Bennett's "We Are the Poets" touches at the heart of the spirit and soul of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The music selections shine with excellence. Gary McMahan's 1985 performance of his modern classic, "The Ol' Double Diamond" sets the bar high at the start, and it is maintained throughout. Many of the other songs are considered modern classics as well, most from now-legendary cowboy and Western singers including Glenn Ohrlin, Buck Ramsey, Stephanie Davis, Don Edwards, Tom Russell, Red Steagall, Wylie & the Wild West, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Sourdough Slim, Lorraine Rawls, Ian Tyson, and others. The selections are a perfect reflection of the broad range of themes and styles offered by today's best, from Michael Martin Murphey's outstanding rendition of Charles Badger Clark's "Spanish is the Loving Tongue (A Border Affair)" to Gail Steiger's realistic portrait of the real working West, "Romance of Western Life," to the dazzling fiddles of the young Quebe Sisters Band on their "Speed the Plow Medley." Every single track is a keeper.

The CDs were produced by Charlie Seeman with Steve Green, Taki Telonidis, and Hal Cannon, with contributing producers E.W. Littlefield, Jr. and John M. Koelsch. Top Western artist Buckeye Blake's work graces the cover.

When it comes time to pack for that proverbial desert island, you'll want to take this one with you.

Celebrating 25 Years: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is available here from the Western Folklife Center gift shop.


Deep West Videos / 2009

 

Two sessions at the 2009 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering screened short films created for the Western Folklife Center's Deep West Video project. The filmsmost made by those with no prior filmmaking experienceoffer up-close glimpses into the rural and ranch life of the West. The 2009 films are available on DVD and for viewing on line here at the Western Folklife Center web site.

Deep West Videos are produced by the Western Folklife Center's Taki Telonidis and Founding Director Hal Cannon. The official description of the project's mission tells that they feature "... first hand stories from the rural West that are rooted in the values of life on the land." The first films were released in 2000.

As we've described in reviews of earlier DVDs of the videos (2006 and 2007 and 2008), the subjects of the films cover a wide spectrum. The honest views are often remarkable in both their messages and their presentation. Almost 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.

The 2009 films, an outstanding collection, include "At the Edge of the Aquifer," by poet and writer Jane Ambrose Morton and Bob Luttrell, about a cowboy living on the Ambrose ranch in Colorado and the water issues he faces; "My Journey on the Promise Road," Gwendolyn Trice's story of her African American roots in Maxville, Oregon; "Traffic Report," a look at Nevada's wide open spaces, from Linda and Carolyn Dufurenna; "The Best of Two Worlds" by Nevada rancher and teacher Cheryl Turner; and Whit Deschner's "Triggers and Tribles" about his wife's ever-growing herd of horses.

Read more and view these and past years' films at the Western Folklife Center web site area for the Deep West Video project.

The Deep West Videos / 2009 DVD is available for $20 from the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop.

 



Western Folklife Center Ranch Rhymes Podcasts

 

The newest Ranch Rhymes: Cowboy Poetry and Music from the Western Folklife Center Archives podcast celebrates the 25th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering with a poem from the first gathering, a 1985 recording of Waddie Mitchell reciting "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service.

Listen to the podcast here

(The 2008 edition of The BAR-D Roundup includes Robert Service's own recording of the poem.)

The Ranch Rhymes recordings, presented by Ross Fuqua, are drawn mostly from the Western Folklife Center Archives. The broadcasts are available on demand for listening on the web or for downloading as podcasts.

Other recent Ranch Rhymes programs feature the wildly popular Wylie & the Wild West; popular poets Doris Daley, Rodney Nelson, and Pat Richardson; singer and songwriter Mary McCaslin; legendary musician and music historian Glenn Orhlin; top cowboy poet Baxter Black; Arizona cowboy, singer and songwriter Gail Steiger and Wyoming rancher and poet Kent Stockton; cowboy singer and songwriter Dave Stamey and 16-year old phenomenon Adrian Utah; reciter Jerry Brooks; North Dakota rancher and poet Rodney Nelson; South Dakota ranch wife and poet Yvonne Hollenbeck; master reciter and respected Randy Rieman; California rancher and poet John Dofflemyer; Montana rancher, writer and poet Wallace McRae; respected cowboy troubadour and music historian Don Edwards; Australian bush poet Milton Taylor and Washington poet Dick Warwick; Utah  poet Jo Lynne Kirkwood; Montana ranch hand, singer, songwriter, and poet DW Groethe; the late cowboy, poet, and reciter Sunny Hancock; and others.

Find all of the Ranch Rhymes programs here at the Western Folklife Center web site.

[Photo: Donald Kallaus]

Posted 2/3
 


  The newest Ranch Rhymes: Cowboy Poetry and Music from the Western Folklife Center Archives podcast features award-winning South Dakota poet, ranchwife, and champion quilter Yvonne Hollenbeck reciting her poem, "The Christmas Quilt," recorded at the 2004 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Listen to the recording here.

The Ranch Rhymes recordings, presented by Ross Fuqua, are drawn mostly from the Western Folklife Center Archives. The broadcasts are available on demand for listening on the web or for downloading as podcasts.

Other recent Ranch Rhymes programs with a focus on the Gathering include those with Montana rancher, writer and poet Wallace McRae; popular poets Doris Daley, Rodney Nelson, and Pat Richardson; singer and songwriter Mary McCaslin; legendary musician and music historian Glenn Orhlin; top cowboy poet Baxter Black; Arizona cowboy, singer and songwriter Gail Steiger and Wyoming rancher and poet Kent Stockton; cowboy singer and songwriter Dave Stamey and 16-year old phenomenon Adrian Utah; reciter Jerry Brooks; and others.

Find all of the Ranch Rhymes programs here at the Western Folklife Center web site.

Updated 12/29
 


Media Releases and News from the Western Folklife Center

 

  Newsletter item, January 23, 2009

 

Western Folklife Center Launches Online Exhibit

 

In a horseman's world, trappings, such as saddles and bits, are essential tools of everyday horseback work, as well as visible icons of work style and aesthetics. For Trappings of a Ranch Life, some of the finest custom saddlemakers and bitmakers were invited to show off their best work. These artists operate one-person shops; they alone are responsible for hundreds of hours of designing, forging, welding, cutting, filing, stitching, engraving and tooling. Though the work is solitary, these individuals are also part of a dynamic community of artisans that provides opportunities for creative partnerships and learning. In Trappings of a Ranch Life saddlemakers have collaborated with treemakers and silverworkers, and bitmakers have teamed up with rawhide braiders and leatherworkers to craft their finished products. The creative work gathered in this exhibition testifies to the health and vitality of these arts in today's ranching world.

Many of these handcrafted saddles, bits, reins, and headstalls are available for purchase through the Western Folklife Center's Gift Shop beginning January 23. They cannot be purchased online, but must be purchased in person or over the phone at 888-880-5885 ext. 242. All purchases must remain in the exhibition through August 29, 2009.

This is a rare opportunity to invest in the one of a kind work of some of the masters of gearmaking. We encourage you to support these talented artists and the Western Folklife Center through your purchase. We invite you to visit the Wiegand Gallery in Elko to view this outstanding collection of gear in person, but for those who aren't able to attend we offer this glimpse of the exhibition through the following artists and artifact profiles and photos.

This exhibit and a companion exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Between Grass & Sky: Rythms of a Cowboy Poem, are made possible by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation.


 

  Media release, January 15, 2009:

 

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Celebrates 25 Years This Month

First Event Inspired a Poetic Renaissance Still Thriving Today

Elko - It's been 25 years since the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, and some people still think cowboy poetry is a contradiction in terms. The thousands of people who flock to Elko every January for what is now the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and the thousands more who attend similar events across the country, understand there is nothing contrary about it. They know it as poetry rooted in values shared by people who live close to the land, whose livelihoods depend on the vagaries of weather, fire and the price of hay. They appreciate it for its accessibility, truthfulness, humor and melancholy. It speaks to them, whether or not they are ranchers or cowboys. In fact, more than 40 percent of those who attend the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering travel from urban areas.

"People want to hear something authentic, from the heart and rooted in the land." explains Hal Cannon, Founding Director of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. "When we started in 1985, there was an energy that came out of cattle country, that took hold of talented and creative men and women from every generation, and brought a representative group together for the first time in Elko to express their art. The response was greater than anything we could have imagined; and it's stronger than ever today. People are writing and sharing poetry who might never have dared before. Had it not been for the Gathering, this creative energy from ranchers and cowboys may have never found voice."

Though poetry is the cornerstone of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the eight-day event has also come to feature music from the finest western and cowboy musicians in the United States and Canada. The Western Folklife Center has also invited representatives of cattle cultures from as far away as Australia and Mongolia, who bring with them their own traditions of music, poetry and storytelling to share with their American counterparts. This Silver Anniversary will be a reunion of more than 130 artists who have participated in the Gathering over the last quarter century, including 15 poets who participated in the first Gathering. Films, crafts, workshops, visual arts, prose, storytelling, dancing, regional foods, lectures and conversations about the contemporary West, all add to the depth and richness of this one-of-a-kind celebration.

***

Tickets and Information

Tickets and information are available at www.westernfolklife.org or by calling 888-880-5885.

 


 

  Media release, December 1, 2008:

 

The Western Folklife Center and the Nevada Museum of Art Team Up in Honor of 25 Years of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Between Grass and Sky Exhibitions Celebrate the Traditional and Contemporary West

Elko and Reno --   In celebration of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada, and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, have partnered to develop a joint exhibition entitled Between Grass and Sky, which will be mounted in both locations starting in January 2009. Central to both exhibitions is an appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the American West. In an effort to appeal to both traditional and contemporary audiences, the Nevada Museum of Art and the Western Folklife Center will celebrate the unique sense of place of the American West by exhibiting a broad range of artworks, from paintings and sculptures to intricately crafted gear.

Between Grass and Sky - Trappings of a Ranch Life

Between Grass and Sky - Trappings of a Ranch Life is an exhibition of fine handcrafted horse gear, guest curated by master saddlemaker and bitmaker Jeremiah Watt, which will open in the Western Folklife Center's Wiegand Gallery during the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the end of January 2009. Some of the finest custom saddlemakers and bitmakers have been invited to show off their best work, including members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association, and craftsmen from as far away as Australia, Canada, France and Germany.  The artists selected for this exhibition - such as  bitmakers Frank Schultz of Victor, Montana and Ricarda Clause of Lakeview, Oregon and saddlemakers Jeff Hanson of Monticello, Utah and Pedro Pedrini of Marysville, California - operate one-person shops, creating work for customers throughout the world.

"The old West may be fenced in and gone forever; today, on the open range, it's the gearmakers who are enjoying a new frontier in artistic expression," explains exhibit curator Jeremiah Watt.

Best of Show awards will be presented to a saddlemaker and a bitmaker as part of the opening reception for the exhibition on Thursday, January 29, and related workshops and demonstrations are scheduled as part of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering festivities. Many of the saddles, bits, headstalls and reins on display will be available for purchase through the Western Folklife Center gift shop during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and through the end of the exhibition, which runs through August 29, 2009.  For those who can't be in Elko physically, an online photographic exhibition of gear for sale will be on view at the Western Folklife Center's website http://www.westernfolklife.org/, beginning in mid-January. The gear will be available for purchase from the Folklife Center's Gift Shop beginning January 20.

Between Grass and Sky – Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem

Much like visual art, the enduring tradition of cowboy poetry is a rich and vital form of cultural expression in the American West. From January 17 to May 17, 2009, the Nevada Museum of Art will present Between Grass and Sky: Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem. This exhibition of contemporary artwork by artists such as Scott Hudson, Adam Jahiel and Theodore Waddell, offers fresh insight into the varied experiences arising from life in rural and ranching communities. Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem will also include an audiovisual component – the recitation of Grass, a poem by Buck Ramsey, by three renowned cowboy poets, Joel Nelson and Andy Hedges from Texas, and Jerry Brooks from Utah. This exhibition is presented as part of the Art + Environment series, an initiative of the Nevada Museum of Art that brings together community, artists and scholars to explore the interaction between people and their environments.

"Between Grass and Sky brings together a diverse range of contemporary artworks, whose subjects echo the poignant lines of Buck Ramsey's poem Grass and suggest that the American West continues to be a place of relentless change," said Ann Wolfe, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Nevada Museum of Art. "This exhibition – presented on the occasion of the 25th  National Cowboy Poetry Gathering – encourages visitors to explore the transformations occurring in the West from the viewpoint of poets and artists."

Buck Ramsey's poem Grass was selected as the basis for these exhibitions because it eloquently engages with a range of themes and ideas that resonate with anyone who has spent time among the open spaces of the American West. Foremost among these themes is the recognition of rhythm as an essential component of nature and cowboy life – a quality that is also reflected in the cadence of cowboy poetry. Whether focused on the essence of life on the range, or exploring the disruption of natural range cycles, the works selected for the exhibition elicit a variety of visual rhythms.

Generous support for Between Grass and Sky is provided by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation. 

***

Don't Miss the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The Silver Anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering – January 24 to 31, 2009 will be a very special reunion of hundreds of poets, musicians and gearmakers who have participated in the Gathering over the last quarter century. The event will look back at 25 years of cowboy poetry and music performances in Elko, and will look ahead to the next quarter century of Gatherings, by presenting young artists, the future of these traditions. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona, will deliver the 2009 keynote speech. The 25th Gathering will feature dozens of performances on six simultaneous stages by 53 poets and 24 musicians and musical groups, including 15 individuals who participated in the very first Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1985. The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering also features exhibits of western art and gear; hands-on workshops in writing, gearmaking, cooking and more; films about the West; lectures by prominent speakers; panel discussions of issues facing the rural West; ranch dances; and late-night jam sessions. All these events contribute to the depth and richness of this one-of-a-kind celebration that was named the "National" Cowboy Poetry Gathering by the U.S. Senate in 2000.

Tickets to the Silver Anniversary National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 24 to 31, 2009, are on sale. For tickets and information, visit www.westernfolklife.org or call 888-880-5885

 


  Media release, September, 2008:

 

 

Elko’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Celebrates 25 Years 

Silver Anniversary Will Reunite Artists From a Quarter Century of Gatherings in Elko

 

Elko – The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering—America’s quintessential event honoring the western cowboyis turning 25 in 2009. From January 24 to 31, the small community of Elko, Nevada, will overflow with thousands of cowboys and cowgirls, poets and musicians, artisans and scholars, rural people and city folksall of whom share a love of the American Westfor a grand celebration of the region’s ranching and rural culture. Tickets to the Silver Anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering go on sale September 2 to Western Folklife Center members and on October 2 to the general public.  

This Silver Anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will be a very special reunion of hundreds of poets, musicians and gearmakers who have participated in the Gathering over the last quarter century. The event will look back at how 25 years of cowboy poetry and music performances in Elko have shaped ranchers, cowboys and the traditions themselves, and will look ahead to the next quarter century of Gatherings, by presenting young artists, the future of these traditions. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona, will deliver the 2009 keynote speech. O’Connor, the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, wrote a book with her brother, Alan H. Day, titled Lazy B: Growing Up On a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest. In it, she describes her early life and experiences on the ranch and how the land, people, and values she learned shaped her life and made her into the self-reliant woman she is today.

The 25th Gathering will feature dozens of performances on six simultaneous stages by 53 poets and 24 musicians and musical groups, including 15 individuals who participated in the very first Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1985. Among the artists performing in 2009 are Grammy award-winning western quartet Riders In The Sky, Canadian songwriting legend Ian Tyson, nationally syndicated columnist and National Public Radio commentator Baxter Black, the Polish hobo rodeo poet Paul Zarzyski, National Heritage Fellows Glenn Ohrlin and Wally McRae, and many more.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering also features exhibits of western art and gear; hands-on workshops in writing, gearmaking, cooking and more; films about the West; lectures by prominent speakers; panel discussions of issues facing the rural West; ranch dances; and late-night jam sessions. All these events contribute to the depth and richness of this one-of-a-kind celebration. Highlights of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering include:

A Ride With Bob, a Musical Drama about the Life of Bob Wills

A Ride With Bob is the first-ever play about the life and music of western swing legend Bob Wills of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. This musical was written by and stars Ray Benson of the internationally acclaimed band Asleep at the Wheel, and features other Poetry Gathering favorites such as the Quebe Sisters and Jill Jones. A Ride With Bob is performed by 25 actors and musicians on a colorful theatrical set. It includes the live performance of 15 of Wills’ most well-known songs in a plot that interweaves Ray Benson’s present day with various stages in Wills’ storied career. For more information visit www.aridewithbob.com.

Between Grass & Sky: Trappings of a Ranch Life

In celebration of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center and the Nevada Museum of Art have partnered to develop a joint exhibition entitled Between Grass and Sky. The Western Folklife Center’s exhibition, Between Grass & Sky: Trappings of a Ranch Life, brings together the work of some of the region's finest contemporary gearmakers, poets and artists to illustrate the connection between artistry and our sense of place in the West. Much of the gear on display will also be for sale. The Nevada Museum of Art exhibition, Between Grass & Sky: Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem, features a selection of historic and contemporary paintings, photographs and sculptural works combined with the spoken voices of renowned cowboy poets, to offer insight into the varied experiences arising from life in rural and ranching communities.

Workshops: Cooking, Writing, Gearmaking, Music, Discussions, Dance and More

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering features more than a dozen workshops for youth and adults including: cooking, gearmaking, contemporary ranch issues, writing, horsemanship, poetry, music, dance, family history, ranch tours and more. We offer these hands-on sessions to provide a richer and deeper experience for those that make the trip to Elko. The workshops are excellent opportunities to be taught new skills, meet master artists and performers, and explore meaningful and interesting topics.

Cowboy Poetry Reunion Performances and Reception

For the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center will honor all the performers of the last quarter century by hosting reunion performances where any of these artists can perform a verse or a song throughout the Gathering. In addition, past and present Gathering poets and musicians will have a chance to reconnect with each other at a reunion reception for them and their families.

Produced by the Western Folklife Center, the National Cowboy Poetry Gatheringknown simply as “Elko” to manypresents and preserves the traditional and contemporary arts created by cowboys, ranch people and all those who live close to the land in the American West through poetry, music, stories, handcrafted gear, film, photography, food and more. Started in 1985 by a small group of folklorists and poets, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering has become an annual ritual for thousands of people who value and practice the artistic traditions of the region, and are concerned about the present and future of the West. Hundreds of cowboy poetry gatherings have since taken hold across the West and the nation over the last 24 years, as the Elko Gathering has reinvigorated a tradition that never ceased to be a part of the lives of cowboys, ranchers and rural westerners. In 2000, the U.S. Senate recognized the cultural value of this tradition and the event responsible for its renaissance when it passed a resolution naming the Elko Gathering the “National” Cowboy Poetry Gathering. 

For more information about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, please visit our website at www.westernfolklife.org.

Major sponsors of the Gathering include the Bretzlaff Foundation, City of Elko, Elko County Recreation Board, Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Nevada Commission on Tourism, Nevada Humanities, Nevada Arts Council, Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs, the Hartman Foundation, Zions Bank, and many more.  

The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding, and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the American West.

 


 

The Western Folklife Center has announced the workshops, ticketed shows, featured performers, and more for the 25th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which will take place in Elko, Nevada, January 24-31, 2009.

Featured performers include Adrian, Oscar Auker, Baxter Black, Dave Bourne, Jerry Brooks, The Burson Family (Ross, Brittany, and Dale), Jon Chandler and the Witchitones (Butch Hause and Ernie Martinez), Bimbo Cheney, Bob Christensen, E.T. Collingsworth, Cowboy Celtic (David Wilkie, Denise Withnell, Keri Lynn Zwicker, Joseph Hertz, and Nathan McCavana), Rick "Sourdough Slim" Crowder, Doris Daley, Jay Dalton, Duane Dickinson, John Dofflemyer, Carolyn Dufurrena, Don Edwards, Leon Flick, Dick Gibford, Janice Gilbertson, The Gillette Brothers, Peggy Godfrey, Skip Gorman & Connie Dover, DW Groethe, R.W. Hampton, Linda Hasselstrom, Andy Hedges, Don Hedgpeth, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Hot Club of Cowtown (Elana James, Whit Smith, and Jake Erwin), Jess Howard, Yula Sue Hunting, Linda Hussa, Chris Isaacs, Teresa Jordan, Echo Klaproth, Ross Knox, Walt LaRue, Ray Lashley, Bill Lowman, Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans (Grant "Demon" Siemans, Kurt Ciesla, and Brady Valgardson), Rusty McCall, Betty Lynne McCarthy, Buster McLaury, Wallace McRae, Lyn Messersmith, Waddie Mitchell, Clark Morris, Michael Martin Murphey, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Kay Kelley Nowell, Glenn Ohrlin, Gwen Petersen, The Quebe Sisters Band (Grace, Sophia, and Hulda), Vess Quinlan, Henry Real Bird, Duane Reece, Pat Richardson, Riders in the Sky (Ranger Doug, Too SlimWoody Paul, and Joey, the Cowpolka King), Randy Rieman, Tom Russell, Chris Sand, Bob Schild, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Dave Stamey, Gail Steiger, Kent Stockton, Milton Taylor, Ian Tyson, Jack Walther, Bill Wood, Wylie & The Wild West (Wylie Gustafson, Ray Doyle, T. Scot Wilburn, and Rick Bryceson), and Paul Zarzyski.

Tickets went on sale to Western Folklife Center members starting September 2, 2008 and were offered to the public starting October 2, 2008. Find a complete brochure and more information here at the Western Folklife Center web site.

 


 

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.  

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

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