Our editor of The Big Roundup, Margo Metegrano, was in Prescott, Arizona at the 14th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, "Leadin' the Way," in August, 2001. Below she reports on the events and the folks she met there — new pards and old BAR-D pards — and we added some related links to performers, books, music, and more.
(Read reports and poems from the 2002 event here.)
Report from the Fourteenth Annual
Arizona Cowboy Poets' Gathering
August 16-18, 2001
"Leadin' the Way" was the theme of the 2001 Gathering, exemplified by Robert McCarthy's stunning painting, "The Lead Man," that graced the commemorative poster and the program, and by the performing poets and musicians.
The program explained that the theme "focuses on the efforts of the ranching community to survive. Cowboys and ranchers have always been fiercely independent and self reliant. They are working together fighting to maintain the heritage, culture, and values of the cowboy lifestyle . . ."
Prescott sits one hundred miles north of and a mile high up from Phoenix — in an entirely different world. The first territorial capital of Arizona, history comes alive at every turn in Prescott. Over 500 buildings in Prescott are on the National Register of Historic Places and the tree-lined streets and nineteenth century buildings create an authentic Old West atmosphere.
The massive stone Yavapai County Courthouse reigns over the the town square, surrounded on all sides by a park. Visitors and townspeople use the park day and night for picnics and other activities, and its gazebo is the site of frequent live entertainment. Historic and contemporary statues are placed throughout the town and within the Courthouse Square. "Cowboy at Rest," by Solon Borglum, who worked at the same time as Remington and Russell, sits at the south side of the square. (See the Chamber of Commerce site for a lovely photo of this statue in the snow.)
Cowboy at Rest
photo by Nell Daley for CowboyPoetry.com
Along the west side of the Courthouse Square runs Whiskey Row, once a notorious strip of cowboy saloons, visited by the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and immortalized in many Cowboy poems. At one time there were 40 saloons, beginning with the Kentucky Bar and ending at the Depot House. In "The Sierry Petes or Tying the Knots in the Devil's Tail," the well-known poem by Gail Gardner, one of Prescott's favorite sons, Old Sandy Bob and Buster Jig head there:
. . .
Oh, they starts her in the Kaintucky Bar
At the head of Whiskey Row,
And they winds up down by the Depot House
Some forty drinks below
. . .
In Warren Miller's chapter "Change and Oral Tradition" in the recent book Cowboys and Cowboy Poets, he writes that Gardner's poem was autobiographical; Gardner and the "real" Sandy Bob had "attempted the popular local challenge — to down a drink in every one" of Prescott's saloons, and that Sandy Bob had "ventured the opinion that 'the devil gets cowboys for doin' what we done.'" Some of the saloons still stand, and if you're in Prescott a visit to the beautifully maintained Palace is a must.
Warren Miller is the Education Director of Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott that produces the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. The museum is a few blocks from Whiskey Row, and the setting is considerably more sedate. The museum was founded by Sharlot Mabridth Hall, "poet, historian, and independent thinker" and the first woman to hold territorial office when she was appointed Territorial Historian in 1909. Buildings on the grounds represent structures from Prescott history, each filled with exhibits; several gardens; an 1885 windmill; and an amphitheater and gazebo. The Archives and Library collect and preserve the regional history, and are a repository for cowboy and mining history, and more. Archivist Michael Wurtz explained that their goal is to collect stories, poems, and musical lore. Among the treasures are folklorist Katie Lee's papers.
Thursday, August 16, 2001
The evening shows were all held at the modern Yavapai College Performance Hall. Thursday, as the lights dimmed, event director Warren Miller came on stage and lit the symbolic campfire. The curtain rose on Robert McCarthy's impressive painting, and the stage was set for the theme that ran through many of the songs and poems of the weekend, "leading the way" toward the preservation of the history of the range and Cowboy life, and leading a movement to preserve the very modern-day challenges to that way of life.
Emcee Tom Weathers of Flagstaff further set the mood and brought history alive as he opened by reciting, to perfection, Sharlot Hall's "The Old Cowmen's Parade." As the spoken words painted their vivid pictures, all in the audience — locals as well as visitors — who had walked along Whiskey Row, viewed the surrounding peaks, and strolled through the Courthouse Plaza, had the perfect frame of reference as they were transported back in time by Tom's delivery. Later he told me that he found the poem particularly moving to recite, as he looked out into the audience knowing that names mentioned in the poem are those of people and families living in Prescott today.
And then on with the show. Tom Weathers performed his own poem to introduce "America's Cowboy Troubadour," and everyone's favorite, Don Edwards. Don has a great love for the old cowboy singers, and he is always at work honoring his heroes such as Rex Allen, "the last singing cowboy." He told how he and Stan Jones had spent five days with Allen, who "knew all the stories" and recorded an album, "A Pair to Draw To," which exists only in limited quantities.
When Don says "I love this song," you know he means it. So when he sang Marty Robbins' "Kin to the Wind," which he says Robbins recorded only once, that love and appreciation flowed from his heart and his pure, resonant voice and the audience was completely in his thrall. He ended his first set with "Panhandle Wind."
Next up, Ted Edmundson, introduced as a "local, certifiable character," was honored for his ten years of set design and then entertained all with his tale of the slide of Jerome, Arizona, a town that had about 4,000 people in 1929, and today is "down to about 19."
It wasn't possible to introduce singer Jean Prescott without reference to her last name, the pronunciation of which bears no resemblance to the way you pronounce Prescott, Arizona (that's "Press-kit," and to say it any other way marks you as not only an outsider, but also as one who must have arrived in town just ten minutes before). Jean usually performs with her husband Gary, who couldn't be there Thursday, so she dedicated her first song, "He's My Cowboy," to him. She said her next, "Dancing on Daddy's Boots," had been requested by Chris Isaacs, and she sang that beautiful tune for "him and all dads."
Continuing in a nostalgic theme, she sang the crowd pleaser, "Yellow Slicker," by her friend and our friend and Honored Guest Debra Hill. Jean told how Debra came to write the true story about "Miss Oleta" Nichols, a pioneer Texan, that begins:
She wore his yellow slicker,
Though it almost drug the ground,
It seemed to make things easier,
As if he was still around.
Hed left her some big boots,
She was gonna have to fill,
But his old yellow slicker,
It seemed to give her the Will...
(You can read the entire poem here.) Jean closed her set with "One Cowboy Left," a touching song, filled with meaning for an audience full of ranchers and others who live each day filled with the challenge of a vanishing way of life.
Jean says that she's been working on a new song with Debra Hill, and that new song, "One Cowboy Left," and "Yellow Slicker" will all be included on her album, which is due out before the end of the year (its working title is "Tapestry of the West," and it will include cowboy and inspirational western songs).
One of the night's stellar performers was the 21-year old Andy Hedges, (nominated for multiple Academy of Western Artists' awards, including Rising Star, Male Poet, and Cowboy Poetry Album of the Year, and a featured performer at Elko in 2000). With an understated but confident presence, blessed by perfect timing and flawless recitation, Andy started with his own work, "Texas Braggin'." Never giving away just which way he was headed, this hilarious piece, with complex rhymes so perfectly delivered was a favorite, the talk of the crowd well into the next day.
Andy's been inspired by the modern and older classic poets. Later Friday when I caught up with him on the grounds at Sharlot Hall, he told me that Waddie Mitchell had probably had the strongest influence on his work, when Andy first saw him five or six years ago at Lubbock. In his Thursday performance, Andy recited his friend Larry McWhorter's "Red Cow" and also gave another word-perfect dramatic presentation of S. Omar Barker's "Bruin Wooin'." Andy "owned" the story: the way he told it, you felt that he, himself, had been in that cave, tumbled off that rim, and even maybe had written the words himself.
Next, old favorite Sunny Hancock — this year's Academy of Western Artist's Male Cowboy Poet — delighted the audience with a complex "Alexandria" and had everyone laughing helplessly at Bill Hirchi's "The Bra." And then in a display of his trademark versatility and range — it is said that he has more Cowboy Poetry memorized than most people will ever hear — he delivered a moving Bruce Kiskaddon classic. The next day Chris Isaacs told me that along with Sunny and their partner Jesse Smith, the three are now "the only Cowboy Poetry performing 'group,'" and they call themselves the "Cardiac Cowboys."
Another versatile entertainer, guitar and mandolin player and singer and songwriter Kerry Grombacher followed with his welcome ballads. As so many others at the gathering did, he dedicated a song to the memory of Mason Coggin, a song he said Mason Coggin often requested, "The Old Cocinero" (The Old Cook). Kerry says "I wrote the song in 1998 and then Duke Davis and I reworked the second verse a bit before he recorded it on his "Chase the Wind" album. I put it on "Riding for the Brand" in 1999. Duke and Mason included it in a book of Duke's poetry that was published in 2000."
Third-generation rancher Joette Conley delivered her original poetry based on her experiences with Brahma bulls, and charmed the audience with the first poem she ever wrote, for her son, "The Goodbye Letter."
Don Edwards returned with a set that listeners hoped would never end. It included Ian Tyson's "Will James" with those unforgettable lines, "If whiskey was his mistress, then his true love was the West," Marty Robbins' songs, and others. Don told again how he had wanted to a singing cowboy, but he was too late, and now there was this plague of "country music." He said "They call it country music, but I don't know what country it's from." That quip met with complete audience approval.
Later Don dedicated "Man Walks Among Us" to "Bud and Mary" in the audience, for their anniversary. The next day Tom Weathers told me a story behind that. Tom said that at one of the first gatherings when he was emceeing, a woman came up to him and asked if she could talk to Don Edwards. Tom thought that part of his job was to keep the backstage area private for the performers, and told her he couldn't let her do that. When she asked him then to deliver a note, he reluctantly took it and gave it to Don, though he really didn't want to "bother him." The note was a request to play her husband's favorite song, in honor of their anniversary. What happened then is a part of what makes Don Edwards such a favorite of anyone who has ever had the opportunity to talk with him. Tom said Don thanked him, saying he always liked to leave a few places open for requests. He played the song, and Tom said that when he returned two years later, Don Edwards still had Mary's note. When he played the song Thursday night, it was the twelfth anniversary Bud and Mary had celebrated at the gathering, and the twelfth time Don Edwards sang Bud's favorite song.
The night ended with Don's special brand of yodeling "When in doubt, yodel," he said. "It's like 'The Wheel of Fortune,' all vowels." The audience did not want him to stop.
Friday, August 17, 2001, daytime sessions
Until some high-tech day in the future, when either we can clone ourselves to be in more than one place at one time or when all the many sessions can be recorded for later enjoyment, it will probably always be difficult to choose among the many concurrent sessions of Cowboy Poetry and music offered during the day. On Friday, there were five hours of small sessions at the Sharlot Hall Museum, sometimes in as many as seven different venues simultaneously.
Among the most interesting sessions was an open mic session, one of the several each day for which anyone could sign up in advance. A highlight of that session was a performance by Dick Morton, a poet with work here at CowboyPoetry.com.
Dick gave a moving recital of Badger Clark's "The Lost Pardner," and also performed S. Omar Barker's "Trail Dust" and a poem by Sharlot Hall. When I asked Dick how he got started with Cowboy Poetry, he told me that he had been accompanying his wife, poet Jane Morton to gatherings and became so interested in the classics, that he began learning some of his favorites. He is particularly interested in learning some of the lesser known poems by poets such as Bruce Kiskaddon, Badger Clark, and D. J. O'Malley.
In the same session Barb Baker of Show Low, Arizona used her beautiful, full voice to entertain with classics and her own poetry and songs, including the humorous "Black Baldy" and the sentimental "Victrola Days." I had met Barb and her husband earlier while touring some of the Sharlot Hall Museum buildings; she was saying how much she had enjoyed Jean Prescott's version of Debra Hill's "Yellow Slicker" and that made us fast friends. Barb and her husband make some spectacular flexible belt buckles from horseshoe nails (see the photo below; they are now carried by the Sharlot Hall Museum Store as well).
Other sessions that day included "Fresh Poems & Favorites," "Women Ranch, Too," "Cowboy Music," "The Liar's Corner," and more than 25 other choices.
Colorado's Jane Morton, a recent CowboyPoetry.com Lariat Laureate runner up performed her poetry for a standing-room-only crowd in a session titled "Something Special and New." Jane's poetry draws on her family's ranch background, and she performed some of the poetry from her books A Beef, A Branding, and a Bull and Poems of the Ranch. Jane and husband Dick were both performing and hardly ever in the same place at the same time, but we did catch them once on the grounds of Sharlot Hall:
One of our BAR-D favorites and recent Lariat Laureate runner up Janice Mitich hosted several of the sessions, and it was a pleasure to sit in on one devoted to "Humor." Janice performed some of her own work, including "Battle Scars," based on her experiences in the one-room schoolhouse she and her twin sister Joyce attended, growing up in Wyoming. Janice captivated the audience with her tale of the bully and his so-called "just desserts" that involved a scab he had caused. Janice is a frequently invited poet at the Prescott gathering, and she has shared the poems she wrote inspired by the past two years' poster art, posted below. Each invited poet is asked to write a poem based on the year's painting, and there are sessions during the gathering where the poems are read and the artist signs copies of the poster.
Another highlight of that humor session was Doc Stovall of Lithia Springs, Georgia. Doc's mostly original work is musical, and includes songs of ranch life, songs of the western range and mountains, as well as humorous looks at the West through parody and satire. His amusing "When the Note Comes Due," included on his "Cowboys Forever" album, was an audience favorite. Doc often performs with Cowboy Poet Jerry Warren of Georgia, and when I caught up with them in town they told me that together they had committed over 9 hours of classic poetry to memory. Both have performed at Elko; Jerry, who descends from five generations of ranchers, was the first poet from east of the Mississippi to be invited there. When I asked them if they felt there was any resistance to their work on the part of "Westerners," they insisted there was not, that they'd been welcomed everywhere. Jerry said "If you're a hand, you're a hand."
Jerry took part in another outstanding session that day, a session titled "The Classics," hosted by Andy Hedges, which also included Joel Nelson and Ken and Lynne Mikell.
Guitarist Ken was accompanied by Lynne on the harp as they presented the history of cowboy songs, with an emphasis on those with Celtic origins. They performed the two-hundred year old Irish "Bard of Armagh," and showed how it evolved into "The Cowboy's Lament" (also known as "Streets of Laredo"). And even more impressive was their tale of a Scottish ballad from 1600, the story of an older man who married a young woman and then went off to sea for 7 years. When he returned, the wife had an infant child. The man decides he was partly at fault for leaving such a young wife for so long, and accepts the child as his own. The mother disappears and the man is left to raise the child who is not his own, as told in "The Old Man's Lament":
I was out walking one morning for pleasure
Down by the river I rambled along
I met an old man making sad lamentations
Rocking a cradle that’s none of his own
It’s my misfortune but none of your own
Accompanied by a wood flute, Ken and Lynne show how two hundred and fifty years later this song evolved into the "Whoopee-T-Yi-Yo, Git Along, Little Dogies" and you could feel recognition ripple through the room as all present recognized the connection to those familiar lines, "Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little dogies / lt's your misfortune, and none of my own."
The poets in that session were outstanding as well. Cowboy and horse breeder Joel Nelson of Alpine, Texas, the only Cowboy Poet to have a CD nominated for a Grammy Award ("Breaker in the Pen") said he was inspired by former Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz, who wrote in his book Passing Through, "If we want to know what it felt like to be alive at any given moment in the long odyssey of the race, it is to poetry we must turn."
He then performed what he said was one of the poems that "made me fall in love with poetry," Stephen Vincent Benet's 1923 "Ballad of William Sycamore," both surprising and delighting his audience with a poet perhaps few would have guessed had inspired one of today's foremost Cowboy Poets:
When I grew tall as the Indian corn,
My father had little to lend me,
But he gave me his great, old powder-horn
And his woodman's skill to befriend me.
With a leather shirt to cover my back,
And a redskin nose to unravel
Each forest sign, I carried my pack
As far as a scout could travel.
Till I lost my boyhood and found my wife,
A girl like a Salem clipper!
A woman straight as a hunting-knife
With eyes as bright as the Dipper!
We cleared our camp where the buffalo feed,
Unheard-of streams were our flagons;
And I sowed my sons like the apple-seed
on the trail of the Western wagons.
They were right, tight boys, never sulky or slow,
A fruitful, a goodly muster.
The eldest died at Alamo.
The youngest fell with Custer.
The letter that told it burned my hand.
Yet we smiled and said, "So be it!"
But I could not live when they fenced the land,
For it broke my heart to see it.
I saddled a red, unbroken colt
And rode him into the day there;
And he threw me down like a thunderbolt
And rolled on me as I lay there.
The hunter's whistle hummed in my ear
As the city-men tried to move me,
And I died in my boots like a pioneer
With the whole wide sky above me.
Now I lie in the heart of the fat, black soil,
Like the seed of the prairie-thistle;
It has washed my bones with honey and oil
And picked them clean as a whistle.
And my youth returns, like the rains of Spring,
And my sons, like the wild-geese flying;
And I lie and hear the meadow-lark sing
And have much content in my dying.
Go play with the towns you have built of blocks,
The towns where you would have bound me!
I sleep in my earth like tired fox,
And my buffalo have found me.
Joel Nelson again shared his knowledge of classic and Cowboy Poetry with his introduction to Buck Ramsey's modern classic, "Anthem." He told how his friend Ramsey had written a 45 page poem inspired by the Russian poet Pushkin, and that "Anthem" was only the introduction. His flawless delivery was received with silent awe by the filled room.
Andy Hedges gave additional polished performances of S. Omar Barker's "Young Jack Potter" and the anonymous "Hellbound Train." Andy said he hoped "Hellbound Train" had been written by a circuit preacher (Andy himself is the son of a rodeo cowboy turned preacher).
Jerry Warren delivered a rollicking "Cowboy's High-Toned Dance" and then gave a perfect recitation of Bruce Kiskaddon's "The Bronco Twister's Prayer." When he finished the last verse:
When the prayer at last was over,
and the grave had all been filled,
On his rough, half broken pony,
he rode off toward the hills.
Yes, we stood there in amazement
as we watched him ride away,
For no words could ever thank him.
There was nothing we could say.
Since we gathered in that grave yard,
it’s been nearly fifty years.
With their joys and with their sorrows,
with their hopes and with their fears.
But I hope when I have finished,
and they lay me with the dead,
Some one says a prayer above me,
like that broncho twister said.
you could nearly feel the crowd's urge to remove their hats in reverence. There was more to come from Jerry that evening at the big show.
Friday, August 17, 2001, evening
Friday night's show at the Yavapai College Performance Hall was hosted by the talented Leon Flick of Oregon and opened by working cowboy Vic Myers of Kerrville, Texas, filling in for the scheduled Leon Autrey. Vic probably elicited more laughs per second than any performer. He started with his hilarious tale of "The Blinders," which gives Bill Hirsch's "The Bra" some competition with the same central prop (the poem includes a line about being "a mare bra man"). And when he set the scene of the church ladies and the cowboy in his "How I Lost my Dally," he brought the house down.
Janet Moore of Camp Verde, Arizona had no trouble following Vic, as she impressed the audience with her "Nature's Cathedral" and other poems drawing on her own family's four generations of ranching.
Dan Roberts, the night's musical headliner, followed. Dan is this year's Academy of Western Artists' Entertainer of the Year, well known for his collaborations with Garth Brooks. Dan performed songs from both his albums, starting with the favorite "There's a Little Bit of Cowboy in All of Us," followed by "True Blue Heeler" and "Saddle Pals." His official bio describes "Saddle Pals" as being "in honor of cowboys who know each other in and out because of the many miles they've traveled together. The song struck a nerve with folks who have been in those same circumstances, riding it to the top of 'Rope Burns' magazine's western music chart."
"Saddle Pals" and Dan's tribute to John Wayne were crowd pleasers, but there was a clear favorite with his intricate, full of fun, "Cowhand.com," which is the title song of his newest album. Dan performed at more casual sessions in the Sharlot Hall outdoor amphitheatre and at some indoor sessions. Dan is as engaging offstage as on, and throughout the gathering you would find him talking to his fans and friends. I waited a few minutes for my chance while he talked with a shy four year old, and that little boy was getting his full and patient attention.
Dan could only be followed by a strong performer, and Jerry Warren did not disappoint. His ranch and rodeo experience came through, along with his respect for people who love the land and the Cowboy way of life, in his moving "The Price of Change," included in his album "Riding the Rimrock." His poem about chicken ranching left the audience in stitches.
Next, the Gail I. Gardner Award was presented to Carol Jarvis of Wickenberg, Arizona. Carol delighted the audience with tales of her love of "the outdoors, land, cattle, horses, and the Cowboy way."
The "Cowboy's Cowboy" favorite Chris Isaacs was up next, and he delivered S. Omar Barker's words with perfection. His rendition of "When we Finish Shipping Cattle in the Fall" accompanied by Tom Weathers' "Oh Shenandoah" was a perfect pairing.
Tucson's Due West Trio opened their set a cappella with Rena Randall singing a hauntingly beautiful "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie." They followed with a lively performance filled with favorites, all of them on their new CD, "Legends, Love Songs, and Lies." They ended the evening on high notes for another satisfied crowd.
Saturday, August 18, 2001, daytime sessions
Concurrent sessions were held all day Saturday on the Sharlot Hall Museum grounds, both doubling the entertainment possibilities and the confounding the problem of how to see and hear "everything." Every venue was filled to capacity as a good number of the 5000 attendees visited the many interesting indoor and outdoor sessions.
Part of the fun was in running into friends and performers in casual encounters. As Carson Thomas said at the Saturday evening show, the gathering was "better than a a family reunion — we really aren't related and we can all be friends." Dee Strickland Johnson, our Honored Guest at CowboyPoetry.com and known to most people as "Buckshot Dot," was being interviewed by a Phoenix radio station, and when she was done, we caught up with her and not only had a chance to talk, but we (I along with Teddie "Nell" Daley of Idaho who took most of the photos on this page) received a personal recitation of some of her best work.
"Dot" told us she'd been so busy with her music that she hasn't had time to do all the writing she wants to do, such as the stories of her father that she is longing to write. With such spontaneous emotion that she nearly couldn't finish, she told us about her father saving her life during a flash flood. And that got her to talking about her stepmother, and right there she regaled us with her poem about cowboy Cephas Perkins who courted her widowed stepmother when she was past 80:
"No one could take your daddy's place,
I'm not thinking of it at all!"
But then on the phone
she casually mentioned --
That a cowboy had come to call.
The cowboy had a habit of leaving his hat outside the door to let any rivals know she was spoken for. He explains:
"Well, if some other guy should come ridin' by,
(I'm always suspectin' the worst),
When he's roundin' that curve,
I want him to observe,
That, by jingos, I got here first!"
When he is asked why he always leaves the hat set upside down, he replies:
"Well, I ain't concerned with the brim or the trim;
I just don't want my luck to run out!"
(You can read the entire poem here.)
When "Buckshot Dot" is reciting she is so full of energy, intense, and completely engaged with and connected to her audience; it was a thrill to get such a private performance. She left us with her "Bob Leatherwood's Wager" (you can read it on her web site). We thought we'd follow her anywhere, and we did for a while.
"Buckshot Dot" led a few of the sessions, and she was often found in the audience, encouraging other poets and even harmonizing now and then. She was a part of a lively session on Saturday, called "Western History," which was hosted by New Mexico's Ray Owens.
In that session, Prescott local Lee Brimall, 82, got right to the issues at hand, saying "Ranchers are having a battle ... they don't have the numbers." That led to his poem "Taking the Tally," which draws from his cattle management experience. Later, in his quiet, controlled, and completely engaging style, he told the tale of "Old Blue," a piece of Prescott history about a man and his horse and their night of drinking in the Palace Saloon.
"Buckshot Dot" has been working on some Arizona historical poems, and told her fascinating tale, "Belle of the Bar," based on the true story of a baby that was left in the Palace Saloon. (The Palace was definitely the place to be, as it is today; you can read about these events on their web site.) She also recited some of her new work about Tombstone and the OK Corral.
Host Ray Owens, a warm and welcoming leader who made any latecomer comfortable, recited his moving poem, "Tracks that Won't Blow Out," a tribute to the people who came before, and to the idea of "partners." His touching "Ever Dwindling Memory" about an old cowboy was appreciated with a hush in the packed room.
Then in one of the most commanding performances I experienced at the gathering, the room seemed it might burst in trying to contain the drama and force of the poetry of Bud Strom, known to many as co-chair of the Cochise Poetry Gathering with its Western Heritage Writing program for young people. Bud's recitations were electric, as each word was carefully and pointedly delivered, while he made eye contact with each person in the audience.
Bud's own ranch is on the Mexican border, and his first offering was an exciting tale of a horserace between cowboys on either side of the border. He wove his tale skillfully, the suspense mounting. By the time he had finished, you could nearly breathe the dust from the historic race. In introducing another of his works, "How the Cowboy Came About," he told of how Civil War soldiers, both Blue and Gray, joined the trail drives after the war, how the Mexican vaqueros taught them ranching skills, and how this "blue and gray" evolved and is seen today in Cowboy jeans ... or was he saying "genes"? His performances were pure power.
It was a pleasure to get to meet Janice Coggin of Cowboy Miner Productions, who sat in that session and heard Bud Strom dedicate a poem to her late husband, Mason Coggin — as many others did throughout the gathering. Cowboy Miner publishes outstanding books of modern and classic Cowboy Poetry and Mason Coggin's passing last year was commented on by many of his performing friends.
From "Songs of the Range" to "Cowboy Sweethearts" and "Southwest Punchers," the day was filled with enticing offerings — more than 50 — inside and out at Sharlot Hall Museum.
Saturday, August 18, 2001 evening
There were two shows Saturday evening, and the later show was completely sold out, filled to rafters with visitors and many local ranching people who showed a special appreciation for the talent-filled performances.
The crowd welcomed Joel Nelson, who started out with "Men Who Ride No More," a poem dedicated to his father and father-in law, both cowboys all their lives. His stories of his 06 Ranch working days and his recitations of his own work and classics were done with the perfection that's synonymous with his name. Joel will be reciting Cowboy Poetry at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake.
Long-time rancher Leon Flick of Oregon, winner of this year's Academy of Western Artists' Best Cowboy Poetry Book award for "A Cow's Tail for a Compass," filled in for Bob Bird. He gave a moving recitation of his friend Buck Ramsey's "Anthem." Then Leon changed his boots for furry slippers, and amused all with his "Bull Slippers" poem, the title work from one of his newest cassettes.
Suzi Killman followed, her recently broken shoulder not getting in the way of her musical performance with John Messenger and Sally Harper Bates. Sally's angelic voice. "Colorado Trail" was a particular treat, followed by a beautiful rendition of "Mariposa Lilies."
Those fine musicians were followed by the crowd's clear favorite, Don Edwards. Don's sincerity reaches right out, from that rich baritone voice to the heart of the audience, and his opening song, "The Rancher is the Man Who Feeds Us All" resonated with so many in attendance.
Don Edwards had everyone smiling when he told the tale of how he came to have a part in Robert Redford's "The Horse Whisperer," which he says is "good mailbox money." He said he was in Santa Clarita when his agent asked him if he could go down to Santa Monica. He told the agent he hoped to never go to Santa Monica, but when he learned Robert Redford had asked if he would consider writing a song for the film he was making of "The Horse Whisperer," he thought he could make the trip after all. He said he had heard about the book, but never read it, so as his wife Kathy drove them down the coast, he quickly read it. He was worried about being involved with a story that might be the equivalent of, he said, "The Horses of Madison County." But the rest is history, and he said while some of what he wrote never made it to the screen, he was pleased with the film and the experience and the songs that resulted. An excerpt from the movie's official site tells quite a bit about Don Edwards and his approach to music:
"Don Edwards, who co-stars in the film as Smokey, has this incredible reverence and knowledge of Western music, and he is carrying on the tradition of the singing cowboys lament as the ranching lifestyle disappears.
'A lot of people don't understand that Country music, at one point in time, meant country, meaning rural,' explains Don Edwards. 'It was string band music. Western music, on the other hand, is not necessarily about cowboys. It's about the West and about the lifestyle. It talks about these traditional values. We don't necessarily sing about dysfunctional relationships. We talk about the outdoors and nature and things like that. Cowboy music was basically the folk music of the cowboy. They were narrative ballads, like poetry set to music of old Celtic tunes, generally from Scotland or Ireland where the bulk of it came from.'"
It was interesting to learn that Don Edward's "Cowboy Love Song" on the movie's soundtrack is from a version of one of Gail Gardner's poems from Orejana Bull. Don sang other favorites, including a song by Joel Nelson, "Here's Looking at You," and left his enthusiastic audience with "Ride for the Brand."
Next up was Sunny Hancock, with his "Change on the Range," about the new Cowboy dress code, and the history of some Cowboy gear. He also gave a touching performance of J. W. Beeson's "Rosie's Eagle."
The Academy of Western Artists' Female Poet of the Year, Elizabeth Ebert of Lemmon, South Dakota, told how her husband lured her to Montana, and added they've been married "19 happy years . . . the other 36 years weren't so good." Her humorous poetry, including the hilarious "Cowboy Courtin' Time" about the eternal triangle (Cowboy, Girl, and Dog) went over well with an audience where most had "been there, done that."
Also from the Plains, R. P. Smith of Nebraska continued on a humorous note. His deadpan delivery extended to the explanation for his 6 children: he said that being ranchers, they were a production oriented family, and didn't have a good grasp on the concept of supply and demand. His whole family was in attendance, and his poem about the Battle of Billy Rubin who "rode in from Jaundice County" was full of clever rhymes on a subject familiar to many parents of newborns.
Music went on well into the night with the Desert Sons, who have performed at all but one of the the fourteen annual Prescott gatherings. Their wide range of styles reflects the individual talents of each of the fine musicians, and they ended the show joined by songwriter and balladeer Bob Campbell.
It was a distinct pleasure to be among the 5000 participants at the 14th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
Special thanks to:
Anita "Nika" Nordbrock, Assistant Curator of Education at Sharlot Hall Museum
Photographer Teddie "Nell" Daley of Idaho
Janice Mitich's Poster Poems
Janice Mitich, recent Lariat Laureate runner up at CowboyPoetry.com, shared the "poster" poems she wrote for this year's Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering and for last year's as well. Each invited poet is asked to write a poem based on the year's painting, and there are sessions during the gathering where the poems are read and the artist signs copies of the poster.
Janice told us that the 2000 poster art was "a painting 'One Man's Family' by award-winning Cowboy artist James Reynolds. It shows a cowboy on a bay horse, on a sage covered flat, with a white pack horse, and a dog in front. The cowboy's looking back over his shoulder towards distant mountains. My friend, fellow poet, songwriter, and musician, Ken Graydon, from California, wrote the music for this poem. We sang it together at Prescott last year and it was well received."
Where Do We Go From Here?
We packed two Conestogas with food and seed and dreams.
Two dozen head of oxen to make two extra teams.
Pa sold our worked-out farm. Said paradise lay out west
For those with courage, hope, and prayer abundant in their breast.
Rains kept the trains in Independence 'til past the end of May.
Mr. Donner chose the Hastings Cutoff, much to our dismay.
One wagon and four oxen left to climb these mountains sheer.
Lord, we're boiling' soup from harness. Where do we go from here?
I trailed longhorns north from Texas when I was but fourteen.
Couldn't leave the sage-covered prairie, the mountains blue and green.
Being a hand is all I know. Been at it over twenty years.
It's been my way of life, this cowboyin' kind of career.
The winter of '86 was bad. Nine outta ten cows froze on their feet.
The Englishman's cut his losses, and he's headed home in defeat.
Joe said, "Take the two best from yer string, to ride and pack yer gear.
"The mutt will keep ya company." Where do we go from here?
He caught my eye while fannin' a bronc at The Gardens in New York.
My life was changed forever with the sound of a champagne cork.
His home was the juniper and rimrock, so loved by old Zane Grey.
We built this ranch together. It seems like only yesterday.
I begged him not to leave, but he said that duty called.
Upon the beach at Normandy they found his body sprawled.
I've kept this place together. Through sixty years I've persevered.
Love, is that you standin' there? Where do we go from here?
The neighbors sold out just last month. Can't really blame 'em much.
Their kids don't want to ranch. They're into e-commerce 'n' such.
Seems there'll be a bunch of 'ranchettes' in the place of pasture land,
A golf course, and fancy clubhouse where cottonwoods now stand.
It'll be like livin' in town. Doubt we'll be too far behind.
Don't think we can cover the taxes once the assessments are redefined.
This here land's been in our family nigh on a hundred years.
Lord, we need your help. Where do we go from here?
Lord, we really need your help. Where do we go from here?
Written for the poster theme of the 13th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott.
© May 28, 2000 by Janice E. Mitich, Picture Rocks, AZ 85743
We're also pleased to have Janice Mitich's 1995 poster poem, "Thanks for the Poems," posted with other poems of hers, here.
Ray Owens, an Honored Guest here at CowboyPoetry.com, wrote a poster poem for the 1997 Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Some Things Just Never Change, and it is posted here with some of his other work.
Robert McCarthy's painting, "The Lead Man," was chosen for the gathering's 2001 the commemorative poster. Janice said that she wrote this poem "in my small efforts to honor the women who came before us and birthed all the cowboys."
Leadin' The Way
A child stolen from her home, sold to the Mandans as a slave,
Bought and wed by Charbonneau, a drunkard and a knave.
With her babe upon her back, she crossed the mountains to the sea.
Louis and Clark mapped her route and went down in history,
But Sacajawea was leadin' the way.
One last look at their world, they bravely turned towards the West.
All their fears and doubts they buried deep within their breast.
Parent's good-bye kisses must last an eternity.
Husbands rarin' to start on the road of Manifest Destiny,
Their dreams of a better life leadin' the way.
Safely in flour barrels English china was packed with care.
All kinds of treasures, dressers, settees, and rocking chairs
Were squeezed among provisions, precious memories of home,
Then cast off along the Platte and Snake where the bison roam.
Warning given by those who led the way.
Here a newborn baby lies never to reach childhood.
There a child was snake bit while gatherin' chips and wood.
A woman died from childbirth rests beneath this sod.
No one to mourn, the wagons rolled, they placed their trust in God.
Bleached bones and crosses left to mark the way.
The cattle and the sheepmen fought over grass and sage.
Squatters and barbed wire foretold the endin' of an age
Of open range, cattle drives, cows far as the eye could see.
Womenfolk stood by their men. The future no guarantee.
By workin' together, both could lead the way.
When the prairie was plowed under and planted in corn and wheat,
Grasshoppers and drought drove the farmers to retreat.
Ranchers bought up the homesteads, turned fields back to pastureland.
Daughters pulled off their aprons, started ridin' for the brand
Takin' pleasure in the freedom of leadin' the way.
Now a new century's upon us. Our future's hard to read.
One thing's clearly certain if ranchin's to succeed,
All must work together, fathers, daughters, mothers, sons,
To stem the tide of concrete. The land must not succumb.
It's our duty to keep leadin' the way.
The poster poem for the 14th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, written at the home of my host family Mary Jane and Bill Gill of Prescott and dedicated to all who lead the way.
© August 17, 2001 by Janice E. Mitich, Picture Rocks, Arizona
Mostly Books, generally in order of mention:
OREJANA BULL: For Cowboys Only By Gail I. Gardner, edited by Warren E. Miller
Surely one of the most frequently requested poems here at the BAR-D is Gail Gardner's classic "The Sierry Petes," or "Tying the Knots in the Devil’s Tail." This book, published by Sharlot Hall Museum Press, includes that poem and others. It is also available from Amazon.com. See our feature about Gail Gardner and read "The Sierry Petes" here.
Cactus and Pine, Songs of the Southwest, by Sharlot Hall
From the Amazon review: During Sharlot Hall's lifetime, her poems were widely acclaimed and included in many anthologies. Some were given musical settings; others were published in American and British journals; all have been cherished by those who loved the West. A companion book to Poems of a Ranch Woman, this collection of poems captures forever the uniqueness and flavor of her style a sensitive wordsmith who often explored western dialects as she wrote of life about her, profoundly observed by a woman keenly attuned to reality. The book is illustrated with line drawings and historic photographs. It also contains an introduction by Kenneth R. Kimsey, and a preface by the author.
This book is published by Sharlot Hall Museum Press and available directly from them. It is also available from Amazon.com.
Poems of a Ranch Woman by Sharlot Hall
Described above as a companion to Cactus and Pine, this volume includes "The Cowmen's Parade." This book is published by Sharlot Hall Museum Press and available directly from them.
Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story, and Verse, by Katie Lee
Katie Lee's 1960 interview with Gail Gardner is a classic piece of reportage. It includes a slightly different, earlier version of "Sierry Petes" than the one published in Orejana Bull. A longer version of her visit with the Gail Gardner and his wife Delia and more of Gail Gardner's poems are included in Katie Lee's book.
There are many compelling stories about and references to Gail Gardner included in this book, which also includes the poems "The Sierry Petes," "Old Bach" (sometimes referred to as "Old Batch"), "Real Cowboy Life," "The Magic Jug," "The Dude Wrangler," "The Cowman's Troubles" and others.
Cowboy Poets and Cowboy Poetry by David Stanley and Elaine Thatcher (Editors)
This paperback edition of 27 essays looks at what Publisher's Weekly calls "a rich, complex idiom." David Stanley is a professor of English and director of the environmental studies program at Utah's Westminster College, and Elaine Thatcher is President of the Santa Fe's Heritage Arts Services. There's a hardcover edition as well. Warren Miller's essay, "Change and Oral Tradition" examines the evolution of versions of Gail Gardner's work.
Cattle, Horses, Sky, and Grass : Cowboy Poetry of the Late Twentieth Century Warren Miller, editor
Warren Miller is the Education Director of Sharlot Hall Museum. He founded the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in 1998 and was involved in the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko and many subsequent gatherings. The Amazon listing for this book includes the complete table of contents.
Classic Cowboy Songs by Don Edwards
This book of classic cowboy songs and their origins includes Don Edward's candid autobiography, which includes many amusing as well as heartbreaking tales about his life and his career. The book includes lyrics, melody line & guitar chords. It is available in hardcover and paperback, and should be a part of any serious library of Western music (a limited quantity of hard cover editions are available, and you can order an autographed copy). For this book and more music, visit Don's site. There's a bit more about Don below. Our feature on Don Edwards includes a long list of his recordings available directly from his web site.
The Horse Whisperer Soundtrack
Along with Don Edwards' "Cowboy Love Song," this favorite soundtrack version includes Dwight Yoakam's "Cattle Call," George Strait, Emmylou Harris and others.
Rolling Uphill from Texas by Buck Ramsey
Winner of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Wrangler Award for Best Traditional Western Music, this classic recording includes "Git Along Little Dogies," "Roundup in the Spring," "Powder River," "Goodnight-Loving Trail," and ten other favorites. Click the link for some sound samples from the Amazon site. Elko's Western Folklife Center has biographical information and Buck Ramsey's best known work, "Anthem," on its site. They also have a most eloquent essay that he wrote, that was published as part of a National Endowment for the Arts' report on the folk and traditional arts in the United States, "The Changing Faces of Tradition."
The following books are from Cowboy Miner Productions, the publishing house started by Janice and Mason Coggin, which publishes three to four books a year, along with other publications.
Cowboy Poetry, Contemporary Verse by Larry McWhorter
From Baxter Black's praise for this book: "From reading Larry's book, one could guess he has listened to a lot of old men. Nostalgia hangs over his poetry like unshed tears."
Cowboy Poetry Classic Rhymes S. Omar Barker
From the book jacket: "In my opinion, no poet has ever been more recitable, wry, witty, consistently real, and factual on or about the cowboy life than S. Omar Barker. The Coggins have done a fine job in choosing which of S.O.B.'s works to include in this book for the growing number of people who appreciate cowboy poetry. Way to go!
— Waddie Mitchell, Elko, NV"
Cowboy Poetry Classic Rhymes D. J. O'Malley
From Cowboy Miner's web site: "D.J. O'Malley was born in San Angelo, Texas, in 1868, and put in nearly a score of years on the open range. He started cowboying in Montana in 1884. His career as a cowboy poet began in 1889 when he penned "To the Memory of Wiley Collins" about a chuck wagon cook who was killed by lightning. . . .The Montana Historical Society is delighted that this manuscript, which the Society has had in its collections for more than three decades, is being published and that D. J. O'Malley's writings will gain some of the wider recognition they deserve.
Cowboy Poetry Contemporary Verse by Duke Davis
From the book jacket: Duke is a cowboy, musician, songwriter, producer, poet, roper, actor, and horseman. As a man of the saddle, he has day worked on ranches all over the West. He and his wife, Ruthie, run Rockin' Double 'D' Productions in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they produce Western music and cowboy poetry albums. In addition, they organize the Annual New Mexico Cowboy Classic in Red River, New Mexico, and the Annual New Mexico State Championship Ranch Rodeo in Santa Fe. They also serve as advisors for many of the cowboy gatherings around the West.
There is another link below with information about Duke Davis' web site.
Cowboy Poetry Classic Rhymes by Bruce Kiskaddon
This book from Cowboy Miner Productions is out of print. See our feature about Bruce Kiskaddon, created mostly from the material in this book, with the kind permission of Cowboy Miner Productions. Cowboy Miner Productions publishes a Bruce Kiskaddon calendar, the only known publication in print with Kiskaddon's poetry.
Rhymes, Reasons, and Pack Saddle Proverbs by Chris Isaacs
From Warren Miller's praise for this book: "Chris lsaacs here offers a collection of poetry that will warm the heart and open many insights into the lives of his friends in the ranching West. Chris is a careful observer, a compassionate participant, and a true friend to all the unique characters portrayed in these stories."
Arizona cowboy Chris Isaacs won the Academy of Western Artists Rising Star award in 1996 and and the next year his third album, "Both Sides," was given the Best Cowboy Poetry Album award. Chris Isaacs is an Honored Guest here at the BAR-D and you can read some of his poetry here.
Sunny Hancock is an Honored Guest here at CowboyPoetry.com, and you can read more about him and his poetry here. In 2002, Sunny Hancock and Jesse Smith collaborated on book, Horse Tracks Through the Sage, which contains over 50 of their poems, an foreword by Baxter Black, an introduction by Larry McWhorter, and a second foreword by Chris Isaacs. The book is published by Cowboy Miner.
The Cardiac Cowboys are the only performing Cowboy Poetry group. See our feature about them here.
The Big Roundup This anthology from New West Library includes the best classic and contemporary poetry from CowboyPoetry.com. Included in the volume are over 140 works, including some of the traditional songs and poems heard at the gathering, such as "Whoopee-Ti-Yi-Yo, Git Along Little Dogies," "I Ride an Old Paint"; poems from classic poets including Gail I. Gardner ("The Sierry Petes"), F. H. Maynard ("Streets of Laredo"), and Curley Fletcher ("The Strawberry Roan") and poems from some of Prescott's invited poets including Janice Mitich, Jane Morton, and Dee Strickland Johnson "Buckshot Dot." There is complete information here.
The cover art for The Big Roundup is "The Best Laid Plans" by Prescott artist Bill Anton.
I had the opportunity to meet Frank Ockenfels at the art and antique fair on the Courthouse Square Saturday. Frank handles three pen and ink subjects by Bill Anton: The Cowboss, The Last Bunch, and Spring Training. The drawings are the result of Bill Anton's participation in a roundup in the high country of Northern Arizona and on roundups on other ranches:
The Cowboss "The Cowboss is alone in this drawing because he is the boss, and must keep a certain distance from the cowhands. The Cowboss won't be involved in the dirty work of branding -- he'll just stamp on the brand (thus he's by the branding fire) while the cowboys hold the cows down after they've been roped and pulled into the fire.
The Last Bunch "This is a scene that repeats itself hundreds of times on ranches all over the West -- a cowboy moving a small group of cows. Cowboys on a gather fan out and work a certain area of the country alone or paired off. Here a hunched old hand astride a stout quarter horse eases a small gather up over a hill. It is probably early Spring as the calf, timid and stiff-legged, can't be more than a week old."
Spring Training "The title "Spring Training" primarily refers to the horse in the background. This colt is "green-broke," evident by the splayed-out back legs and laid-back ears. He's nervous and jumpy and doesn't need much of an excuse to go to bucking. He's also wearing a large-ringed snaffle bit -- the usual for a young horse. The cowboy here is "building another loop" before going after another calf. It takes a first class hand to handle a green horse while introducing him to roping and dragging calves. With time, skill and a lot of miles a good cowboy can turn a bronc into a useful ranch horse."
The works are available in two formats: 20x30 Limited Edition (100) prints mounted and double matted on museum quality,acid-free foam backing, ready for framing ($145 each plus shipping); and 8x10 miniatures of the three subjects mounted, double matted and framed with dust covers, saw-toothed hanger and wall protectors ($40 each or $112 for the set of three plus shipping). Contact Frank Ockenfels, 1160 Solar Hts. Dr., Prescott, AZ 86303 or by email.
Some of Bill Anton's pen and ink drawings are included in the book, The West: A Treasury Of Art and Literature edited by T. H. and Joan Watkins (1994, publisher Hugh Lauter Levin).
Few entertainers are better loved than Don Edwards, whose knowledge of and tributes to the great "Singing Cowboys" enrich the true Western music scene. Visit Don Edward's site for biographical information, his schedule, to hear a bit of music, and to view and purchase his recordings and book, Classic Cowboy Songs (more on that book above). We have some of his music listed on our Books page. See our feature on Don Edwards for some of his original work and a long list of his recordings available directly from his web site.
Texas musicians Jean and Gary Prescott delight audiences everywhere. Jean says "It's important that our children and grandchildren know about the rich history of the American West. Teaching them through music is a wonderful and enjoyable way for them to learn about their heritage." Jean and Gary are the recipients of countless awards, and you can read about those, read more about them, check out their schedule, and get a hold of their music through their web site. And look for a forthcoming feature about Jean here at CowboyPoetry.com.
Visit the web site of CowboyPoetry.com's Honored Guest "Buckshot Dot," where you'll find her poetry, books, and music, including her latest CD, Buckaroo Bonanza. (The poem mentioned above about her stepmother is "Cowboy Goes A-Courtin,'" from her book First Roundup. You can read the entire poem here.)
Singer and songwriter Dan Roberts is one of today's most popular entertainers, winner of the Academy of Western Artist's 2000 Male Vocalist of the Year Award. At his site, you can read more about him and his music, and listen cuts from and order his CDs, "There's A Little Cowboy in All of Us" and "Cowhand.com." (These links are to the information about the CDs at Amazon.com.)
No one would dispute that Andy Hedges deserved the Rising Star nomination he received from the Academy of Western Artists. And now that he's been a featured performer at Elko and at other important gatherings like Prescott, he's a verifiable star (and one of the nicest people you'll ever encounter). Andy's award-winning "Days and Nights in the Saddle" album includes his "Texas Braggin'" and his performance of poems by Bruce Kiskaddon, S. Omar Barker, Larry McWhorter, Henry Herbert Knibbs, and others. He invites people to contact him or order his CD or tape (CDs are $17 and tapes are $12, including postage) by email or contact him at: Rt. 5 Box 29, Brownfield TX 79316 806-637-0430 We're pleased to have Andy Hedges as an Honored Guest here at the BAR-D.
Kerry Grombacher plays guitar and mandolin and writes contemporary folk and western songs, as well as country songs and ballads. Visit his site, where you'll find information about his albums, Sands Motel and Riding for the Brand, sound clips, his performance schedule, and more. Stay tuned for a feature about Kerry here at CowboyPoetry.com.
Bud Strom raises beef and horses out on Dead Bear Draw at the Single Star Ranch in Hereford, Arizona, and raises the level of the quality of Cowboy Poetry each time he takes the stage. He performs throughout the country and has published a book, Dry Lightning, and a CD. Since 1991, Bud Strom and John Shaver have put on a premier gathering in Arizona's San Pedro Valley, the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. And throughout the year their Western Heritage writing program for young people involves the entire community. They say that "Embracing the community as well as the protection and preservation of our western heritage through youth programs have been our stated goals from the start."
Joel Nelson's Grammy Award winning album, Breaker in the Pen, is available from Real West records, which also has a few sound clips. There is an interesting article from England's Poetry Society about Joel Nelson's visit to the Northumberland region below the Scottish border with other poets in residence.
Janice Mitich, a recent CowboyPoetry.com Lariat Laureate runner up, is a frequent participant at the Prescott gatherings. Janice shared her two "poster poems" from the 2000 and 2001 gatherings, below. You can read more of her poetry here at CowboyPoetry.com.
Colorado's Jane Morton, a recent CowboyPoetry.com Lariat Laureate runner up, was an invited poet at Prescott. Jane's poetry draws on her family's ranch background for her poetry, and she performed some of the poetry from her books A Beef, A Branding, and a Bull and Poems of the Ranch. The books are available for $5 each, postage included, from: Jane Morton, 12710 Abert Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80908 or you can contact Jane by email. You can read more of Jane Morton's poetry here at CowboyPoetry.com
Ray Owens is an Academy of Western Artists nominee for Male Cowboy Poet of the Year and for Album of the Year for his "Some Boots are Made for Keepin'." Ray writes moving poetry, performs at gatherings around the Southwest, and raises horses in New Mexico. You can read Ray's "An Ever Dwindlin' Breed" on the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering site. Ray is an Honored Guest at CowboyPoetry.com, and you can read his poetry and more about him here. Ray has two recordings available:
Images courtesy SilverCreek Books and Music
and you'll find order information on his Honored Guest page here and on Ray's own site.
Doc Stovall and Jerry Warren
Doc Stovall, Western singer originally from the Appalachian Mountains of Southwestern Virginia and Jerry Warren, rancher, rodeo veteran and Cowboy Poet from Georgia, often perform together at festivals and gatherings across the country. Jerry was the first poet east of the Mississippi to perform at Elko. They say they " . . . look at the West as our forefathers knew it from every perspective. The serious side depicts life as it was in the early days up 'til and including the present. The humorous side pokes fun at any and everything with nothing (particularly politics) off limits." You can contact them for performance information and their recordings, including Doc's "Cowboys Forever," "Back to the Campfire," and "Western Journeys" and Jerry's "Riding the Rimrock." Contact Doc Stovall, PO Box 574, Lithia Springs, GA 30122 770/948-5570 firstname.lastname@example.org We're pleased to have Doc Stovall as our Honored Guest at CowboyPoetry.com, and you read more about him and some of his work right here.
Barb Baker is a songwriter, musician, and poet (you can read some of her poetry here at the BAR-D). Barb and her husband make a unique belt buckle (pictured above) so we asked her for a description: "The unique hinged design make ours the most comfortable buckle you will ever wear. Each is individually hand crafted from steel horseshoe nails and will have variations in construction and finishing. Choose from steel matte or flame finished. Visit their Diamond B Buckle web site.
Ken and Lynne Mikell
These Arizona musicians sing the stories of the Old West, accompanied by guitar and harp. Their "Shamrocks and Horseshoes" CD says "The music of the Old World found a new home around the hearths and campfires of the Old West. We are proud to be a part of that continuing tradition." From "Crooked Trail to Holbrook" to Badger Clark's "A Roundup Lullaby," they continue the tradition admirably. You can contact them by email.
Leon Flick is the winner of this year's Academy of Western Artists' Best Cowboy Poetry Book award for "A Cow's Tail for a Compass." You can read some of his poetry, about his books and tapes, and more at his web site.
Visit New Mexico's Cowboy Poet and Western singer Duke Davis at the Rockin' Double "D" Productions site, where you can read liner notes and listen to sound samples from his albums. Cowboy Miner recently published a book of Duke Davis' poetry (see above).
Poet, songwriter, and Honored Guest here at CowboyPoetry.com, Debra Hill penned "The Yellow Slicker," the crowd pleaser that was performed by Jean Prescott at the gathering. Another of Debra's poems, "Wild Stickhorse Remuda," was adapted by Devon Dawson for the Grammy winning Riders in the Sky Toy Story II music CD, "Woody's Round-up." That poem appears in The Big Roundup from New West Library and CowboyPoetry.com. You can read more about Debra and read some of her work here at CowboyPoetry.com.
Sharlot Hall Museum Visit the museum that sponsors the gathering on line, browse the library catalogue, shop at the museum store, and see the entire program from the most recent gathering at the Sharlot Hall Museum web site.
Commemorative posters from the 2001 Gathering (Robert McCarthy's "The Lead Man") and the 2000 Gathering (by James Reynolds) and other years' posters are available from the museum shop.
Prescott For some great photos and interesting history, visit the Chamber of Commerce site.
Palace Saloon on Whiskey Row The old Palace, one of the original saloons on Whiskey Row, is beautifully restored and includes artifacts and historic photos and paintings. Make a virtual visit through their web site.
Solon Borglum A short biography of sculptor Solon Borglum is found at the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut.
Gail I. Gardner See our feature on Gail I. Gardner, which includes his poem, "The Sierry Petes or Tying Knots in the Devil's Tail" here.
Mason Coggin Poets at CowboyPoetry.com have written tributes to Mason Coggin.
Buck Ramsey Elko's Western Folklife Center has biographical information and Buck Ramsey's best known work, "Anthem," on its site. The Houston Chronicle ran an interesting article when Buck Ramsey died ("Ramsey... once carried books by French existentialist Albert Camus in his saddlebags as he worked the range..."). See information about his "Rolling Uphill from Texas" album above.
Academy of Western Artists (AWA) Many of the performers at the gathering are current and recent winners of the prestigious Academy of Western Artists awards. You can learn more about the organization and the winners at the AWA web site.
Rope Burns Rope Burns is produced by the Academy of Western Artists, and you'll find subscription information at the AWA web site.
Badger Clark See our feature on Badger Clark, perhaps best known for his poem, "A Cowboy's Prayer."
Western vs. Country Music For an interesting article, see Byron E. Jordon's piece here on the Western Music Association site.
Jerome, Arizona Some history on the slide of Jerome is found at this site.
The Horse Whisperer The official movie site, with an article that includes interesting quotes about and from Don Edwards.