Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

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Gathering Reports
2010

 

12th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art and Gear Show, Monterey, California, December

 

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December, 2010
12th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art and Gear Show  Monterey, California

(See our feature about the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival here.)

Photos below by Leslie Hause


 

The Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art and Gear Show ( www.montereycowboy.org ) prides itself on presenting the “best of the best” in poetry, music, art, and gear, and the twelfth annual event in December 2010 held up that high standard. The outstanding talent included Dave Stamey, Ian Tyson, Andrew Hardin, Randy Rieman, Diane Tribitt, Juni Fisher, Wylie & the Wild West, R.W. Hampton, Jerry Brooks, Andy Nelson, Jesse Smith, Richard Chon, Cowbop, Dennis Agajanian, Sidesaddle & Co., Ernie Sites, and Joni Harms.
 


photo by Leslie Hause
Dave Stamey

There’s so much happening at Monterey, that it’s hard to do more than touch on the highlights. Two shows that bookended the event give some idea of the exciting, top-notch performances: An early Saturday show, “Strings on Fire,” showcased the crème de la crème of musicians: Andrew Hardin, Richard Chon (Saddle Cats), Bruce Forman (Cowbop), Dennis Agajanian, T. Scot Wilburn (Wylie & the Wild West) and Ernie Sites, in what turned into a jam to end all jams. Masterfully headed by the talented and quick-witted Bruce Forman, musicians each had a chance to shine individually as well as to show their collaborative skills. It was a chance to hear everything from “I’m an Old Cowhand” to “San Antonio Rose” in a myriad of interpretations. Each performer also told a bit about their musical beginnings. Monterey has hosted similarly inspired group shows in past years.
 


photo by Leslie Hause
Ian Tyson

Another example of excellence: The final show welcomed the legendary Ian Tyson and his talented sidekicks. In a Hawaiian shirt that matched a jovial mood, Ian Tyson connected with the audience in an electric way. Singing old and new songs, telling stories, with his great-sounding “new” voice working with the trio’s spot-on harmony, he seemed to enjoy the show as much as those in the auditorium. After a standing ovation that wouldn’t quit, he closed the event with two encores.
 


photo by Leslie Hause
Diane Tribitt and Juni Fisher

Other standout performances? Monterey favorite son Dave Stamey’s kickoff performance on Friday night included two impressive brand new songs. The crowd, who would have happily listened to three days of Dave Stamey, did not want to let him go. Juni Fisher, another almost-hometown-gal, dazzled the audience with her award-winning songs, some with intriguing rodeo history introductions.
 


photo by Leslie Hause
Randy Rieman

Randy Rieman, the master of cowboy poetry classics, nearly hypnotized the audience with his perfect recitations; people were pulled into the scenes of his carefully chosen poems. Ray Doyle (Wylie & the Wild West) gave a solo performance of his “Goin’ to Bodie” that brought an appreciative hush over the otherwise usually busy Art and Gear show. Wylie & the Wild West gave what they always do, and then more: charged performance, superior instrumentation, beautifully crafted ballads, rock and roll, honky tonk, no-holds-barred real cowboy music. Reciter Jerry Brooks had a rapt audience for her classic recitations that transported listeners to the Outback, the mines, and the trail. Jesse Smith likewise brought the classics alive and also kindled the memory of the late, well-loved poet Sunny Hancock with recitations of two of his poems.
 


photo by Leslie Hause
Andy Nelson

Andy Nelson lit up the room with his humorous stories and poetry in a way that could have made the fire marshal nervous. And with equal skill, he turned around and delivered some heartfelt serious poetry. Rancher and poet Diane Tribitt gave the same sort of equal time to the humorous side of ranch life and to deep and meaningful topics. She brought the audience to its feet with her touching poem about her late husband; Cowbop wowed everyone with its upbeat magic and polished “Western bebop.”
 


photo by Leslie Hause
R.W. Hampton and his son

R.W. Hampton had many memorable moments, and singing with his son during Sunday’s Cowboy Church was unforgettable. And that is just barely touching on the brightest moments of the event.

Monterey itself is a star, situated in the historic center of North American ranching history, agricultural bounty, and Western literary roots. The Californio tradition thrives and is frequently reflected in the art and gear at the event. Nearby are ranchos, museums, and missions where visitors can explore the area’s rich past. Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row are just steps from the event center. Monterey also boasts a world-famous aquarium, and the entire peninsula offers its natural beauty, surrounded by Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

The performers and visitors coming from cold and snowy places such as Alberta and Wyoming welcomed the sunshine and mild temperatures. But the mild weather, history, and stunning scenery are just a part of what makes the Monterey event feel so friendly and comfortable. There is also the hospitality of the hard-working volunteers and event board. Importantly, there’s a schedule that encourages time to get to know the performers, visit the artists and gear makers, and make new friends.

You never have to miss a show or rush from one to the other: there is one main stage with no simultaneous main shows. There is ongoing entertainment in the large Art and Gear show with main-stage performers, open mic opportunities, and the always-popular presentation by area young people. A jam each evening gives more opportunities to socialize, to get to know the performers, and to pull out an instrument and jam, as people did this year, with the likes of Dave Stamey and Richard Chon.
 


photo by Leslie Hause
 


photo by Leslie Hause
Students with Ernie Sites


One of the gathering’s core programs is an educational outreach to schools with activities that introduce young people to cowboy and ranching life. Poets and musicians visit the schools during the event, and students present their own poetry during the festival. This year, Ernie Sites had been working for over a month with school kids, and that showed in their delightful final presentation.

 


© 2004, Joelle Smith
"Riata Man"

The 2010 poster, “Riata Man,” was by the late Joelle Smith. Her work has graced three of the event’s posters. Her mother, Sally Smith, who shows her work across the West, always has a booth at the show. The booth is a popular meeting place for poets, musicians, and other friends.
 


photo by Leslie Hause
Frank Pinney and Dee Dee Garcia White

The Gathering started out in good hands and that continues. Gathering founder Gary Brown is often recognized during the event and he was persuaded to host part of the show this year. Outgoing president Frank Pinney turned over the reins to Dee Dee Garcia White (granddaughter of the famous bit, spur, and saddle maker G.S. Garcia).

Next year, go and pick your own favorites. You can count on a quality experience. Visit the festival web site, www.montereycowboy.org, for information about the 13th annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art and Gear Show, which takes place December 2-4, 2011.

 

See our feature about the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival and Western Art and Gear Show here.  

 


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