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The following reviews of Cowboy Poetry, storytelling, and Western Music books and recordings have been submitted by a number of different contributors.

Submissions are welcome for consideration.  Email us.

Elsewhere at the BAR-D:

Rick Huff reviews Western music and cowboy poetry CDs here.

Smoke Wade reviews cowboy poetry CDs here.

There are additional reviews by CowboyPoetry.com editor Margo Metegrano, here.

 

 

Below, the reviews are:

listed alphabetically by title

posted chronologically 

 

 


 

Most Recent

The Legend of Billy Jenks and other Wyoming Stories by Robert Roripaugh
review by Jean Mathisen Haugen

 

Alphabetically by title:

Always a Cowboy at Heart by Joe A. Ribary
review by Mike Puhallo

Bronc Busters by Dave P. Fisher
review by Hal Swift

BULLRIDER: a PBR Documentary an Off the Pier production
review by Jeri Dobrowski

Church at the Wagon by Fletcher Jowers
review by Mark Holt

City Boys by Andy Hedges
review by Linda Kirkpatrick
review by Lauralee Northcott
review by Brad Carter

Cowboy Poems and Outright Lies by Hal Swift
review by Johnny Gunn 

Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark, edited by Greg Scott 
review by Linda Hasselstrom (separate page

"Dad, We'll Rope Today" by Ken Cook
review by Marvin O'Dell

Easy on th' Ears by Dave Watson
review by Marvin O'Dell
review by Joe Baker

Freedom For The Cowboy by Starchild (Glenn Rafuse)
review by Mike Puhallo

Friendly Folks & Old Cowpokes by Frank Gleeson
review by Mike Puhallo

From Cowboy's Office Window by Tom King
review by Mark McMillan

The Legend of Billy Jenks and other Wyoming Stories by Robert Roripaugh
review by Jean Mathisen Haugen

Little Bit of Texas by Rod Nichols
review by Gene O'Quinn

Montana Legacy by Sandy Seaton
review by Gwen Petersen

Red Rock Moon, by Belinda Gail and Curly Musgrave
review by Marvin O'Dell

Roundup at the Palace, by Kathleen Cook Waldron
review by Mike Puhallo

Stories, by Misty River
review by Dallas McCord

Sunday Creek, by Jeff Streeby
review by Rachel Barenblat

Trail Mix by Diane Tribitt
review by Smoke Wade

West River Waltz by DW Groethe
review by Rod Miller

Yesterday's Yarns: Real Tales from the Real West by Ken Overcast
 review by Jeff Streeby


Reviews


WESTERN SHORT STORIES BOOK REVIEW

The Legend of Billy Jenks and other Wyoming Stories
by Robert Roripaugh

available for $15.95 plus postage
High Plains Press; Amazon; and other outlets

Robert Roripaugh of Laramie, Wyoming, has recently published a fine collection of fictional short stories based largely on people and places he knew while living on a ranch near Lander, Wyoming in the late 1940's and 1950's. Roripaugh served as Wyoming's Poet Laureate from 1995 until 2002 and taught Creative Writing and Literature of the West at the University of Wyoming for 35 years. He is the author of two novels, A Fever for Living, telling the story of a young serviceman stationed in occupied Japan after World War II who falls in love with a Japanese girl; and Honor Thy Father—based on the effects of the hanging of Ella "Cattle Kate" Watson and James Averill on a local ranching family during the beginning of the cattle wars in Wyoming in 1889. He received the Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame for this book about the troubles on the Sweetwater River. He is also the author of two poetry books, Learn to Love the Haze and The Ranch—both of which contain poetry about the people and places he knew around Lander as a young man.

His new book, The Legend of Billy Jenks and other Wyoming Stories, is a collection of eight short stories that have been published in such magazines as Atlantic Monthly over the years.  The title story tells the tale of a young man who is of part Native American heritage and the hardships he faced while growing up in the then-dusty cowtown of Lander. Billy's life was hard and as it states at the end of the riveting tale, his headstone was marked, "Too young to die, too old to live."
 
Another tale tells of Slade Wilson, an old man who killed one of the last outlaw wolves in the countrythen lived out his life on that tiny bit of glory in a dug-out cabin at the head of Squaw Creek. Years later he still believes there is yet another giant wolf to be caught and he goes out in his own blaze of demented glory.

Several of Robert Roripaugh's stories are based on the people of the Wind River Indian Reservation north of Lander and the hardships and sorrows they have faced over the years. One story, "The Winter Days Are Long," was so convincing to one of Robert's fellow teachers that she asked to meet the girl who had written themalthough Virginia Shield existed only in the author's imagination. Although times have changed in the 50 years since Robert lived in Lander, times and places that he describes so vividly in these vignettes of the past seem timeless. Places are easily recognizable and though the stories are sometimes sad they carry a soaring grace of time and the people who lived in the Wind River country.

The Legend of Billy Jenks and other Wyoming Stories is well worth the reading and will remain in the reader's memory for a long time to come. Copies may be obtained from High Plains Press, P.O. Box 123, 403 Cassa Road, Glendo, Wyoming 82213. Nancy Curtis, long-time Wyoming poet and author is the owner of High Plains Press.

© 2008, Jean Mathisen Haugen

 

 


MUSIC CD REVIEW

Stories
by Misty River

available for $15 plus postage
www.mistyriverband.com

 

A few years ago I was very pleased to attend my first Misty River concert.

I sat spellbound as these four beautiful ladies (Laura Quigley, Dana Abel, Chris Kokesh, and Carol Harley) played and sang their music with such grace and ease.

I just received their latest CD, Stories, and they still put me in that state of awe. The harmonies, melodies, and instrumentation are flawless. Every tune is a keeper. Most of the time I get a CD and maybe one or two songs, poems, or stories will stand out as the best thing on the CD. Not this time. I play this CD in my Jeep too.

This is a MUST HAVE for everyone's collection. Don't take my word for how beautiful these ladies are. Get the CD and see for yourself. Stories is a mixture of folk, blues, western, and bluegrass music. Something for everyone. I give this CD my highest marks.

© 2007, Dallas McCord


COWBOY POETRY CD REVIEW

Montana Legacy
by Sandy Seaton

available for $17 postpaid from: Sandy Seaton
P.O. Box 117
Emigrant, MT 59027
(406)222-7455
BlackMtn2@aol.com
www.blackmountainoutfitters.com

 

“Legacy” might be expressed as the heritage that was handed down to us from forebears as well as the traditions and values we will bequeath to future generations. 

Recently  I received a “legacy” in the mail in the form of a CD.  It’s a collection of poems and songs that reflect a unique daily life most of us will never experience.  Sandy and her husband Scott own and operate Black Mountain Outfitters, a wilderness and ranch outfitting business. In summer, they earn their keep by running camps that take greenhorn folks into the mountains and introduce them to Nature’s glory.  When not herding dudes, Black Mountain Outfitters guide hunters to stalk the wily wild deer, moose, elk and lion.

Is that enough for a lifestyle?  Not quite.  They also raise registered Redbone hound dogs as well as Airedale dogs.  They breed, raise and train horses, buy and sell riding and pack mules; they’re photographers of wildlife —is that enough for an “everyday life”?  Not quite.

Besides being a true daughter of the west in love with the grandeur of Nature, Sandy’s  tales of outdoor adventures, history, animals and people of the west have been featured in a string of magazines and newspapers.  Is that enough to fill out a “lifestyle”?  Not quite. 

Sandy Seaton Sallee is in demand as a top “cowboy” poet at Gatherings from the National Gathering in Elko, Nevada  to Canadian locales.  She just finished recording a collection of poems and songs which she titled—appropriately—Montana Legacy.

You get goose bumps listening to the opening poem/song “Wind”.  Listening, you can almost see the tree limbs quiver in the wind; feel the gentle draft or whipping gust as the mountain zephyrs take charge. 

Laugh with her when she buys a “bargain” horse, then spends a fortune on training, doctoring and finally “doubling” her investment. 

Mountain Madness can bring tears when the words sweep you into the mind of a woman driven mad at the gruesome deaths of husband and children.

Ever thought about how to drive several mules at once?  Most of us in these days are proud if we can drive a single horse pulling a wimpy cart.  Go with Sandy when, as a feisty youngster and against all advice, she decided to hitch up six mules.  She survived.  The mules did, too. 

A frisson of warmth will snake up your spine when Sandy tells of Grandma’s Gift--a tribute to her 95 year old Grandmother who gave her the legacy-gift of spirit, love, and laughter.

Ride with Sandy when she takes three teen-age girls on a pack trip along with eleven assorted breeds of dogs and a young horse spooks.  Dogs, horses, girls have a hilarious dust-up.  (Sandy turns out to be the only one who finds the whole sequence uproarious).

If you want t know how it feels to be a western gal tangled up in a City Mall, you’ll get a chuckle out of Sandy’s poem, Hangin’ Out. 

In some of her poems, Sandy sings songs.  She warbles in pure throaty tones which background the story she is telling.  In Rider, you’ll hear I Ride An Old Paint and you’ll learn and identify with why she so loves the west and the outdoors.  In Code of the West, you will hear  history and the respect for the traditions of the west interspersed with the throbbing notes of Amazing Grace. 

Craig Hall, a brilliant Bozeman, Montana concert guitarist, plays background music which strokes and complements Sandy’s verses and songs. 

Sandy Seaton Sallee is a true Montana Legacy.  

Sandy can be contacted at: Montana Legacy CD:  Black Mountain Outfitters, PO Box 117, Emigrant, MT 59027  Blackmountain2@aol.com

© 2007, Gwen Petersen

This review by Montana poet and writer Gwen Petersen appeared in her "In a Sow's Ear" column in The Fence Post on July 1, 2007, and is reprinted with her kind permission.


 

COWBOY POETRY BOOK REVIEW

Trail Mix, a book of cowboy Language, Lingo, Poetry & Recipes
by
Diane Tribitt

available for $17.95 from Bookhouse Fulfillment www.bookhousefullfillment.com
(800)-901-3480 Ext. 118. or by email tribitt@brainerd.net

Minnesota cowgirl poet Diane Tribitt has a new book of cowboy poetry hot off the press in January 2007, and it is chocked full of good stuff to read.

Published by Beaver's Pond Press, Inc. Edina, Minnesota, Trail Mix is divided into ten chapters about cowboy poetry, cowboy sayin's, cowboy lingo, rodeo, poker, Native Americans, cowboy cooking and family photos. The 304 page book contains 41 pages of Diane's original poetry

Featured in the book is her original poem, "Upgrading the Herd," for which Diane was recognized as one of the  "8 Seconds" in the 2006 Thirteenth Lariat Laureate cowboy poetry competition on www.cowboypoetry.com.

The well-produced book is full of useful information. One can learn the meaning of the phrase "Hurricane Deck" in the Cowboy Lingo section, or learn how to prepare "Cowboy Stew" in the Chuck Wagon Cookin' section. The Special Features chapter features the songs and lyrics of songwriter, Will Dudley.

Diane Tribitt captures the life of modern day cowboys in her poetry. She was awarded first place as a serious poet in the Silver Buckle division of the world's only Cowboy Poetry Rodeo held in Kanab, Utah in 2006. In Trail Mix, Diane sums up her poetry, knowledge of rodeo as a rodeo secretary, and her experience as a ranch manager in an organized, easy-to-read manner. Trail Mix is definitely a book that needs to be added to any serious collection of cowboy poetry.

Trail Mix is available for $17.95 from Bookhouse Fulfillment www.bookhousefullfillment.com (800)-901-3480 Ext. 118. or by email tribitt@brainerd.net

For more information visit at www.dianetribitt.com, www.BeaversPondPress.com, and www.cowboypoetry.com.

© 2007, Smoke Wade


DVD REVIEW

BULLRIDER: a PBR Documentary
an Off the Pier production

Available from www.bullridermovie.com

BULLRIDER, a documentary on the winning-and-losing, living-and-dying world of Professional Bull Riders came to my attention too late for inclusion in previous gift lists. Long on quality, content and message, the film rates a column all its own:

Professional bull riding (www.pbrnow.com) attracts more than one million live-event attendees each year to 100+ PBR-sanctioned competitions; 100 million viewers watch televised broadcasts. With more than 450 hours of prime-time programming annually, PBR ranks among the most prolific sports on the air.

Producers William Chessman and Maureen Holmes embedded a camera crew with the 2004 PBR tour. They followed 45 cowboy athletes to 28 cities over 10 months to tell the story of friends and brothers vying for the world championship. Oscar-nominated director Josh Aronson and Emmy-winning editor Kate Hirson winnowed live footage and taped interviews down to a whirling 90-minute, wince-and-cheer study of the sport.

Viewers leave home at sunup with rodeo-bound cowboys, attend church services, venture into the bowels of arena locker rooms, duck and dodge with bodyguard bull fighters and witness surgery—up close and personal—in the operating room. The cast runs the gamut: bull riders Adriano Moraes, Justin McBride, Mike Lee and Tony Mendes; bull fighter Rob Smets; former bull riding champions Jim Shoulders, Ty Murray and Tuff Hedeman; PBR Physician Tandy Freeman; PBR Minister Todd Pierce; stock contractor H.D. Page; celebrity bucking bulls Little Yellow Jacket, Mossy Oak Mudslinger and Bodacious. And then some.

Adriano Moraes won an unprecedented third Professional Bull Riders’ title in November 2006. For his efforts, the 36-year-old Brazilian earned a $1.346 million dollar payday. It put him over the $3 million dollar career-earnings mark and made him the PBR's all-time money leader with $3,369,623.

The 2006 storybook ending was a far cry from how Moraes finished the 2004 season. With PBR World Championships in 1994 and 2001, Moreas was intently focused on a third. At the finals in Las Vegas, he tore the biceps in his riding arm. Cameras captured the grimace on his face the instant the injury occurred. Remarkably, Moreas continued to ride in successive rounds, at one point managing a more-than-respectable 93-point ride. In the end, 21-year-old Mike Lee, himself riding with a dislocated shoulder, took the title.

An unforgiving sport, bull riding pits a cowboy’s fragile body against the fury of an animal that knows no rules. It isn’t always pretty, but it’s not the bulls who are harmed. A vivid example replays Tuff Hedeman’s October 1995 encounter with bull riding’s bad boy, Bodacious.

Wimps don’t make it in the PBR.

Those who succeed overcome any number of falls, fractures, concussions, contusions, dislocations and disappointments. Faith, family, friends—and the talents of a proficient orthopedic surgeon—carry them to the pay window. There are no atheists in a fox hole or in bull riding. Moreas says he and other riders rely on God for protection, strength and knowledge to ride bulls. "When we nod our heads [for the gate to open], we feel so alone. We pray, God help us."

Issues of animal welfare are addressed, leaving no doubt that those who own the bulls have a vested interest in keeping them fit and healthy. One stock contractor admits developing deep attachments to the bulls he raises, making it difficult to part with them when the time comes to sell.

The cinematography and editing are exceptional. The slow motion action/audio sequences are stellar. BULLRIDER will make a memorable gift for the bull riding fan in your family. But, you don’t have to be a cowboy or even be aware of the PBR to be mesmerized by the content. This film captures the illogical drive of the sport, the humanness of the contestants and their profound faith.

The DVD sells for $24.95 plus $4.95 priority shipping. Order BULLRIDER on-line at www.bullridermovie.com. One dollar from every purchase goes to the Resistol Relief Fund. The fund benefits anyone injured in the sport of bull riding: high school, college and professional bull riders, as well as those who work in the sport of bull riding.

©  2006, Jeri Dobrowski, All rights reserved


This review is reprinted from a special edition of Jeri Dobrowski's Cowboy Jam Session column.

 


CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW

Roundup At The Palace
By Kathleen Cook Waldron, illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel

Northern Lights Books For Children, Red Deer Press ©2006
ISBN 0-88995-319-8
available from Amazon and other booksellers

Kathleen Cook Waldron spins a delightful tale about a young cowboy and his bull, a pretty girl named Alice and The Brown Palace Hotel. The Brown Palace Hotel has been an elegant landmark of downtown Denver Colorado since 1892. The Denver Stock Show has been going on since 1906. So what happens when a young bull escapes on his way to the stock show and mistakes the finest hotel in Denver for his barn? You will just have to read the book to find out!

Roundup at the Palace is a classic urban and cowboy legend, beautifully illustrated and well written. This is a children's book, with a combination of drama, humour and wonderful images of a bull in a fancy hotel should appeal to urban and rural youngsters over a wide range of ages, from about four to ninety four. As a middle aged, former 4-H member, who has participated in one or two "urban roundups," I really found a lot to relate to in this story. It also reinforces my theory that reality is generally far more ridiculous than anything we can make up. These days there are not many children's books with a rural orientation; this one gets the big blue ribbon.

Kathleen Cook Waldron was raised in Denver Colorado, she is author of several critically acclaimed children's books. She now resides in 100 Mile House, British Columbia

Alan and Lea Daniel Live in Kitchener, Ontario. Between them, they have illustrated, authored and collaborated on at least two-dozen books.

© 2006, Mike Puhallo 
Reprinted with permission


WESTERN SHORT STORIES BOOK REVIEW

Bronc Busters 
by Dave P. Fisher

Available from Dave P. Fisher
www.davepfisher.com

Bronc Buster, a gathering of short stories of the American West, by Dave P. Fisher, gets its name from the author's Blackfoot Indian grandfather, Les Fontaine. It's Fontaine's 1920s- era photo on the book's front, and it's a story based on his experiences for which the book is named.

The day I received Bronc Buster I put aside everything else and just read. This, and 16 other stories, held my attention for 10 solid hours.

The reason for such interest on my part may be explained best in Mr. Fisher's dedication:

"To every man or woman who has ever chosen what was right over what was easy, who ever took a stand and fought for what was honorable, who ever showed courage in the face of adversity, this is the true spirit of the
American West."

If you were to ask me to name my favorite story, I couldn't do it - each is my favorite. I think the stories will appeal to Western fans regardless of age.

To order online, visit www.fishersgeneralstore.com. You can also purchase the book by sending a money order in the amount of $13.95 to Dave P. Fisher at 1902 Union St., Sparks, Nev. 89434.

Copies of the book are also available wherever Dave is appearing. For a schedule, go to www.davepfisher.com.

© 2006, Hal Swift 
Reprinted with permission

This review also appeared in The Fence Post in July, 2006


COWBOY POETRY BOOK REVIEW

West River Waltz
by DW Groethe

Available from DW Groethe
PO Box 144
Bainville, MT 59212

Somewhere along the road I learned that there are three kinds of restaurants. There are a few—very few, fortunately—that are hands-down awful and ought to be required by law to dispense antacid tables with every lunch ticket.

The vast, vast majority of eateries are neither bad nor good. They are, for the most part, just there. They cause no harm, but neither do they do any good.

Then there are a few beaneries—very few, unfortunately—that are wonderful almost beyond measure. Rare places, where sweat pops out of your eye-teeth with the first sniff of salsa, where the chili verde smolders in your stomach as fingers of flame scorch your short ribs, and the flan is so smooth that it renders swallowing irrelevant.

While this is a review of a collection of cowboy poems rather than restaurants, the comparison is, I believe, apt. Here’s why.

I find only a few of the many, many cowboy poems in the world truly awful. Most—almost all—cowboy poems, like most restaurants, are neither terribly bad nor remarkably good. Like most restaurants, they just are. 

But once in a while, (about as often as you’re blessed by finding a bean parlor whose tamales steam-clean your innards) you find a herd of poetry so beautiful that it snaps your eyelids open and temporarily disengages your breathing mechanism.

That latter category is where D. W. Groethe’s West River Waltz: Western Poetry lives.

Published by Cowboy Miner, the book holds 72 Groethe poems and a selection of original song lyrics from four albums of his recorded music. A Foreword by folklorist Jens Lund opens the dance, followed by the author’s Preface. The volume ends with Notes, an Index, and a First Line Index.

I came to the book largely a stranger to Groethe’s work, having heard him recite a few poems and sing a few more songs on a small stage at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, and again at central Utah’s Sevier Valley Roundup. So, I approached West River Waltz with fresh eyes and few expectations.

Verses range from lighthearted and frivolous (“The Fence” and “Nothing Rhymes with Lutefisk”) to insightful character sketches (“Bent” and “He Rides a Mellow Gelding Anymore”) to the downright philosophical (“When the Old Man Goes—A Poem in Two Voices”).

Like all poetry worthy of the name, most of these poems are about more than one thing. They tend to address two or more subjects—the one that triggered the verse, as well as deeper meanings found sometimes in the words, but often in the spaces between.

This work bears thinking about, and that’s a lot of what makes the book worth reading.

For instance, in “Let Me Tell You ’Bout Weanin’,” the poet captures the human characteristic of clinging tightly to the things we hold dear, and, paradoxically—like the mother cows in the poem—a willingness to abandon them when pragmatism trumps principle:  “Then on a sudden / no reason no rhyme /  they stroll away thinkin’, ‘Hell, that calf ain’t mine.’”

In “There’s a Silence,” Groethe captures the melancholy mood of Bruce Kiskaddon’s timeless “When They’ve Finished Shippin’ Cattle in the Fall.” But, with  lines like “There’s a silence that’s found / As a hoof hits the ground / When yer ridin’ alone in the night…. / The breeze heaves a sigh / Like a ol’ lullaby / An’ it all sets yer spirit aright” he manages to do it with a tighter, shorter poem.

Depth of thought and feeling are not all that recommend the work, however. The sheer enjoyment of listening to Groethe weave words into patterns of sound and echo, rhythm and reverberation, likewise makes West River Waltz rewarding. Lend an ear to the rich-sounding word adventures in this “Let ’Er Buck” stanza: “There’s always one more horse to ride. / Always one more go. / Always one more one last time / For one more rodeo.”

Or the carefully crafted assonance from this poem, whose title is the same as its opening line: “Under the dim and nodding sky / ’Mid the nighthawk’s fading skree, / Bend your ear to the rush in the willows, / That hush you hear is me.”

Meaning and music also intertwine beautifully in “The Novice”: “Some say if you listen / Real close and alone / You can hear all the voices / Of ancestors moan / And that somewhere amid / all the flashing and drone / Lie the answers to questions / That have yet to be sown.”

Many of the poems offer a surprise. “The Christmas Serenade,” for instance, spends its first four stanzas setting up a typically syrupy, sentimental story. Then Groethe spends the rest of the poem standing that sentiment on its ear with an ironic and rollicking tale of good intentions gone wrong. Badly wrong. (I won’t spoil the enjoyment of the surprise or the setup by quoting from the poem.)

There are many more examples of things to love about the poetry in West River Waltz. But, if I quoted them all, this review would bear a remarkable resemblance to the book itself.

So I’ll end it here, with one final impression.

While the poetry in West River Waltz sings, the song lyrics, by comparison, seem less musical. Perhaps they require a melody to bring them to life. Maybe the demands of pairing up words and notes requires compromises that can be avoided when letters are the only things being wrangled. Not that the lyrics don’t make enjoyable reading, mind you—it’s just that they lack the power and punch of the poetry. I suspect I’ll soon be shopping for some of D. W. Groethe’s recordings just so I can give the lyrics their due by listening to them sung, as they’re written to be.

West River Waltz: Western Poetry belongs on the shelf of every admirer of cowboy poems. Those of us who love to read poetry will return to its pages repeatedly for enjoyment and stimulation. Those of us who aspire to write the stuff will—ought to—return to it often for inspiration and education.

© 2006, Rod Miller 
Reprinted with permission


COWBOY POETRY CD REVIEW

"Dad, We'll Rope Today"
by
Ken Cook

Available from Ken Cook
23154 Teal Lane
Martin, SD 57551-6601
(605) 685-6749

www.kencookcowboypoet.com

If you've never visited a ranch, or you don't think you'll get to visit one in the near future, then you need to pick up "Dad, We'll Rope Today," Ken Cook's latest CD.  And by the time you're through listening to this string of cowboy poems, you'll feel like you've not only visited a ranch but spent the day working while you were there.  I mean, this CD almost tires you out -- in a good way.  It's a compendium on a day in the life of a cowboy.  More often than not, it's a humorous presentation of how NOT to cowboy.

Ken will have you laughing when you first start out on your visit to his ranch.  Then he'll sober you up with some poetry that makes no bones about his love and admiration for his calf-ropin' kids, the attitudes that get a cowboy through the day, and the disaster that a cowboy can suddenly meet during his day's work.

"Gone are the Days" is a wonderful tribute poem in which Ken expresses his appreciation for those who have gone before and those who taught him how to handle a rope.  If you've ever been a parent, you'll not be able to keep from smiling as you listen to the title cut.  Remember the first time you "gave in" and let your kids help?  And the theme of the proud parent continues as Ken presents "Bloodlines."

I think what I enjoy most about this CD, though, is the trip it takes me on.  I feel like I've spent the day riding with Ken by the time the last poem has played.  And I think that's what good cowboy poetry should be about.  Not just cowboys reciting poetry or poets writing poems about cowboys -- but cowboys sharing their life experiences with me in such a way that I can't wait to climb up on a horse and ride again.  Even if I've never sat a horse in my life!  Ken Cook's "Dad, We'll Rope Today" leaves you with exactly that feeling.

So put this CD on, lay back and close your eyes, and take in the noise and smells and excitement of a day at the ranch.  I promise Ken Cook will make sure you have a good time.

© 2006, Marvin O'Dell, host of Around the Campfire on Classic Heartland
Reprinted with permission


WESTERN MUSIC CD REVIEW

Red Rock Moon
by Belinda Gail and Curly Musgrave

Available from Curly Musgrave
Curly J. Productions
PO Box 512
Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352

Two artists (select any musical genre) don't just step into a recording studio and quickly knock out a recording project, expecting it to sound professional. In fact, not even a solo artist can be afforded that luxury. It takes some time to hone one's craft. And when you begin talking about working with another artist, you're also talking about reworking your style, stepping out of your comfort zone, and accommodating a second artist whose phrasing and dynamics will probably not be perfectly aligned with your own. I said all that to say this:

If two wonderful musicians can achieve a synthesis that holds up through an entire recording project -- well, that's almost a miracle. That's why I've never been a great fan of duet albums recorded by quality artists. They generally necessitate way too much give-and-take for the finished project to be satisfactory. It's like trying to put two superstar basketball players on the same court. Both players end up with a lesser performance because they must give up part of their ability to accommodate the other. And the fan goes home dissatisfied because he has not had the opportunity to see either star shine.

Now, if you'll take one listen to "Red Rock Moon," the latest duet CD from Belinda Gail and
Curly Jim Musgrave, you'll quickly discover that things that are true in some cases are not true in all. These two western singers have succeeded in one of music's great challenges: recording a completely satisfying duet album. Of course, they didn't just drop into a studio and say, "Let's give it a try." These two have been working together for several years, singing and playing on each other's solo releases. This has been sharpening time. This has been the weaving of the fabric that has now musically turned them into one. After listening to this new CD, you realize it's not Belinda Gail and Curly Musgrave any more. It's Belinda & Curly, Curly & Belinda. You know, as in Phil & Don, Porter & Dolly, Fred & Ginger, Roy & Dale.

Where this duos' first CD, When Trails Meet," spotlighted the talents of each singer individually, Red Rock Moon showcases their ability to work as a team. Where before it was the excellent tight rope walker followed by the wonderful man on the flying trapeze, now it's the two trapeze artists relying on one another as they weave their musical magic. One flies and one is there to catch. And when you've finished listening to Red Rock Moon, you realize you've been holding your breath frequently -- fearing that someone might fall from such a high-peak performance.

But this performance comes off flawlessly. It's all here: the beauty of Ian Tyson's "Somewhere in the Rubies"; the light-heartedness of "You Can't Put a Brand on Me" and "The Remember Song"; the creativity of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,"; the emotion of "Veteran's Dedication"; the romance of "Red Rock Moon," one of 6 songs co-written by Curly & Belinda. You won't recall having heard a better version of "Wind Beneath My Wings" -- a song done so eloquently while remaining a true western tune.

You'll sit transfixed listening to the reworked "Streets of Laredo." When the song ended, I thought, "That song is now complete. Belinda & Curly have actually messed with a classic -- and made it better" -- a daring feat rarely accomplished.

There's no question that this will be an award-winning CD. While listening to it, just sit back and soar with Curly & Belinda. They'll take you to the mountains, down the streets of western towns, to the dance floor, and back up into wild western skies. Synergy simply bursts from this CD with every song. If it weren't for trademark infringements, this CD could have been aptly titled, "The Greatest Show on Earth."

© 2006, Marvin O'Dell, host of Around the Campfire on Classic Heartland
Reprinted with permission


COWBOY POETRY CD REVIEW

Easy on th' Ears
by Dave Watson

davewcd.jpg (16444 bytes)

Available from:
www.davewatsonpoetry.com


Review by Joe Baker, host of the Backforty Bunkhouse radio program

Over the years with experience and cowboy livin' Dave has mastered his talent with cowboy poetry. I feel his CD, Easy on the Ears is the finest cowboy poetry I've heard in many years. My hats' off to Dave Watson for his ability to not only recite but to deliver in a down to earth style all his own that everyone in the western industry can understand and relate too with their everyday lives. Dave can make you feel your at home with his easy going presence and I am sincerely honored to call him friend.

Review by Marvin O'Dell, host of Classic Heartland's " Around the Campfire" internet radio program.

The album may be called "Easy on th' Ears," but it sure is tough on th' heart. If you're going to listen to this CD, be prepared for Dave Watson to squeeze, wrench, and even break your heart as he so honestly and personally recites his poetry. Oh, it's not all that bad -- he'll make you laugh, too -- a lot, in fact. And he'll also leave you sitting there contemplating "Poppa's Wisdom" with the realization that Poppa really was a wise man. Primarily, though, this CD is about family -- and love -- and values-- and courage -- and precious memories -- and God -- and the emotions that accompany such.

The first thing you'll recognize when this CD begins to play is that Dave Watson is real. This isn't some kind of hyped up production orchestrated by some marketing genius for the purpose of gaining world-wide or even national recognition. In fact, you get the feeling about halfway through this CD that Watson doesn't care whether you like this compilation of poems or not 'cause he's still gonna tell 'em -- 'cause he's got to -- just like he's got to have those ropes ( "I'd like ta keep th' ropes with me if that's alright with y'all. There aint no reason for it, I just want 'em there, that's all.") You'll have to hear the final cut to understand - but this is the kind of stuff that can only be delivered from the heart or else no one will give it a second listen. And what you're listening to here is as genuine as it gets.

The poems aren't long and contrived - they're just honest and get right to the point. Who hasn't felt the emotion Watson expresses in "Daisy?" This doesn't have to be a long story. You and I know exactly where he's coming from. And though most men wouldn't want to admit it, the same thing is true of " A Christmas Story." And if you don't get the point of "Grace and th' Cowboy," listen to it over and over until you do. This timeless story of God's love has never been told more eloquently.

In " To Dyan - 25th Anniversary," Watson gives us a peek into his very personal and intimate relationship with his wife. What strikes you at this point in the CD is: he BETTER be genuine. Because there's a gal named Dyan who'll know!

The CD concludes with a poem called "Last Will and Testament" -- a fitting end to this wonderful album of poetry. By the time you finish listening to this final cut, you feel like you know Watson personally. You feel like you've made a new friend. And you wonder if Watson could ever record another CD of poetry -- because it seems like he's bared his heart, soul, and life to completion in this one.

© 2005, Marvin O'Dell
Reprinted with permission


WESTERN MUSIC CD REVIEW

City Boys
by Andy Hedges

Available from
Andy Hedges
Rt. 5 Box 29
Brownfield, TX 79316
 $17 (postpaid)
and from
SilverCreek Books and Music


Review by Linda Kirkpatrick


I have known Andy since he began doing cowboy poetry several years ago. Needless to say I was very excited when he told me about this upcoming release, City Boys.

Andy brings the spirit of Texas and the cowboy to life in this new release.

The dreams and desires of "City Boys" are fulfilled in the songs that are included in this CD.  From old traditional, seldom heard songs, to songs penned by songwriters Andy Wilkinson, Curly Fletcher, Don McLean, Rod Taylor and Bob Dylan, the listener is taken on the trip of a lifetime.  Andy's own song, "City Boys" tells of the long time desires of "wanna be" cowboys who are smothered within their brick walls, surrounded by concrete while the cowboy lives the life of their dreams in the wide open spaces of the west.

"Jamie Raeborn's Farewell" tells the story of how many young men had to leave their homes across the seas only to end up astride a horse following a herd across the barren plains of Texas.  But these young men brought with them their traditions and music, the basis of cowboy life today.

The sentimental side of the cowboy comes alive in "Dreams Drive the Brazos," "More Pretty Girls," "Girl from the North Country," and "Roving Gambler," while grief and hard times are experienced in "Jody" and "Mustang Gray."

Other views of a cowboy's life are heard in the songs "The Tribe of the Forty and Found," "Wild Buckaroo," and "Dust and Horns."

Andy will introduce you to the old time Sacred Harp singing with "Ye Objects of Sense" and the adaptation of this hymn in "Song of Texas."  Sacred Harp singing predates the Civil War in the south.  It is a four part, acappella form of singing that found its way into southern churches.  It is a unique form of singing that is kept alive in the south today.   Joe Taylor, Tom and Kathy Taylor and Mary Alice Latimer add this special treat to this CD.

From beginning to end you will be anxiously awaiting the next song just to see what is coming next.  This is a wonderful CD and would make a great gift for the friends you know who would love to live life in the west and it would also make a great gift for those of us lucky enough to call the west our home.  Andy is to be commended for allowing us to become a part of these wonderful songs.


Review by Lauralee Northcott  

I would call this CD a collection of folk music.  Folk music in the western tradition and I was delighted by it.  Way to go Andy!

I enjoyed listening to this CD.  It was full of surprises and great musical tidbits, while maintaining this lovely level of western feel.  It doesn't sound Nashville; it doesn't even sound Texas Swing, though it is done by a Texas musician.  Instead it carries the authenticity of the western message, with great traditional selections like "Mustang Gray" and "Ye Objects of Sense/ Song of Texas."  These songs are done very well and Andy's voice is a surprise too.  He is a fine cowboy poet and I have seen him perform many times as well as listened to his CD of poems.  It has been a staple of my weekly cowboy radio show, so I was delighted to hear the rich and real tones
of Andy's voice.  He isn't a crooner, he's kind of rough sounding and it fits the music beautifully.

The arrangements on the CD are really good.  You can tell Andy Hedges and Andy Wilkinson the producer, went for the down home sound of real trail music, but of course, they spoil our attuned ears with beautifully layered sounds.  It is a great CD.  I loved the instrumentation on City Boys and the sentiment is fun.  Andy singing, "Here's to the city boys who'd love to head out west."  But my favorite line is the one about "Traditions that ain't never gonna change." I think that shows a lot of maturity, it takes a while to understand the strength of a well kept custom.


Review by Brad Carter of Yellowhouse Music

Andy Hedges is a real find.  Andy Wilkinson liked him so much that he produced Hedges' first music CD, City Boys.  I saw and heard what Wilkinson liked so much about this young Brownfield-based artist at a CD release party in November, 2004 and asked Hedges to join the Yellowhouse Music family.  A couple of days later I listened to City Boys on a 180-mile trek from Lubbock to Snyder and back.

It was ALL I listened to--that's almost three times through the CD.

City Boys is one of the most refreshing pieces of work I have heard in a long time.  This first effort is almost one hour in length and includes no fillers.  A pleasing mix of cowboy and folk, City Boys features solid guitar work and heart-felt vocals that make it irresistible.  Some great tunes, many traditional, are featured here.  My favorite?  "Jamie Raeborn's Lament," an old Scottish ballad, sounds like it was written for Andy--but this CD is filled with equally solid recordings.   Although best known for his cowboy poetry, Andy gives us a hint of his songwriting ability with the title cut, a song that speaks to the cowboy in many of us that longs to escape the trappings of city life (pickers and cowboys aren't so different).  Rod Taylor's "Dust and Horns" is also a standout for me, and  I further like "Dreams Drive the Brazos," one of three songs written by our own Andy Wilkinson.

Wilkinson recently wrote of Hedges, "...claiming to be neither cowboy nor cowboy singer, his work plainly shows the heritage of each.  His voice is honest and unpretentious, his guitar work an effortless and unconscious blend of folk and modern styles, both set to work on material that crosses the turns of two centuries."

We are indeed pleased to welcome Andy Hedges to Yellowhouse Music.


COWBOY POETRY BOOK REVIEW

Always a Cowboy at Heart
by Joe A. Ribary
illustrated by Ben Crane  

Available from
Silver Spur Publishing
1668 Iskut Place
Kamloops BC V2E 2M4
(250) 374-4287
email

Review by Mike Puhallo

Those of us lucky enough to be born and raised in the West take a lot of stuff for granted. Sometimes it takes as outsiders point of view to make us appreciate what we grew up with.

Joe Ribary grew up in Switzerland with a passion for western riding and a dream of being a cowboy. In a country where western riding was virtually unheard of, Joe taught himself to ride and train horses in the cowboy way, as well as becoming one of Switzerland's first Quarter Horse breeders.

At thirty years of age Joe followed his dream to Canada with his wife Heidi and their young daughter in tow. They built up their ranch, a good cow herd and a string of top quality horses. Along the way he acquired a reputation as a true horseman (a compliment most westerners don't pass out too freely.)

Always a Cowboy at Heart is the story of Joe's journey, from a small boy with a love of horses to an Alberta Rancher and horseman. There were a lot of hard lessons along the way and a lot of bumps along the trail. The story is well written, in a series of entertaining anecdotes Joe shares the little tragedies and humorous episodes that marked his journey. Each little episode is a story in itself told in a casual manner, the way they would be told around the kitchen table or campfire, the way stories are meant to be told.

Joe writes in a frank down-to-earth style and openly discusses the kind of mistakes all of us make but never admit to. His subtle sense of humour is well accented by Ben Crane's hilarious drawings, and his lifelong dream is perfectly depicted in the Arnold Mosley painting that adorns the cover.

Always a Cowboy at Heart is about following dreams, and making them real. It was not an easy journey but when retold with humour and wit, it makes a very entertaining read. Joe Ribary is not the first man to make such a journey, nor will he be the last. The same call that drew Charlie Russell and Will James to the West brought Joe and like them he has done his best to "get it all down." 

For those of us lucky enough to be born here , it's nice to be reminded of the call that brought our fathers and grandfathers to the West.


COWBOY POETRY BOOK REVIEW

From Cowboy's Office Window
by
Tom King
illustrated by Ben Crane and Eldon Walls

tkingbook.jpg (15822 bytes)

Available from Tom King
Box 5, Site 9, RR1
Sundre, Alberta, Canada, T0M 1X0
403 638 5241
e-mail   web site

postpaid for $14.00 U.S. or $16.95 Canadian

Review by Mark McMillan
(A version of this review first appeared in the British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society newsletter)


Anyone that frequents this website (BCCHS) and reads any of the Cowboy Poetry should be pretty familiar with Tom King! I get a lot of poems sent to me and I have to sort out the culls, ship them out (usually to the trash can) and keep the good ones to use as replacements. I can't think of a single one, that was sent in by Tom, that didn't make it into our program! There are only a couple of cowboy poets out there that I can truly say that about. I just seem to like everything that Tom sends in! It didn't surprise me a bit to hear that he had put together a book...

Now I know that a lot of Tom's most recent poems were done in conjunction with a cartoon by Eldon Walls - some inspired by the cartoon and some inspired the cartoon, so I figured that he'd have some of his work in this new book. But then I heard that Ben Crane was involved as well - well can you imagine! The humour of Tom, Eldon, and Ben - all inside one cover? It's great - a super read - a little bit here and there is serious but the majority goes right along the lines of a cartoon.

Now I play at a little cowboy poetry once in a while myself - Problem is, I don't have the time, and usually I can't make it rhyme! So to me when I see a poem that rhymes all over the place - middle and end of first line - last word on line 3 and 4 and last line of lines 2 and 5 then I figure it was written by a pretty talented poet! Here's an example - I'll only give you one verse so you'll have to ask Tom for the rest.

      Mistake number one was when I begun
      puttin' pride before good common sense!
      Mistake number two
      was stickin' like glue
      when an all out wreck would commence!

That is a verse out of a poem called "Cowboy Pride?" and the whole poem is rhymed the same way. Not only is the rhyming exceptional but the poem itself tells a great story.

All of the poems in this new book tell a story and I could picture and relate to most of them. One of Ben Crane's cartoons that helps to build the picture...
Here's one verse out of the middle of the poem - you'll get the picture. You'll have to buy the book to read the rest of the poem, though. Now knowing the author's last name I wondered about this verse and thought the wording even more fitting.


      When it comes to bein' stupid and all,
      that day had me reignin' as king.
      The idea I had for usin' the tree,
      just landed my butt in a sling!


I'd read a couple of the poems in the book before but thoroughly enjoyed reading them again - like the one that was written after a white knuckle drive home from the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in 2003 - titled "Drivin' Me Nuts!" After reading it, and hearing that it took Tammy three days to get home on that same drive, I asked Tom's wife Ellen about the trip. Her comments were quite similar to what Tom wrote in the poem. 

I think that over the last few years we have lost a good working cowboy to MS but at the same time I think that we have gained a great cowboy poet out of the deal. Although the poem "Sorry
Honey" has nothing to do with this, I'm going to use a couple of verses from it that I liked and thought that they said a lot by themselves. Keep up the good work Tom!

      I've traded in my saddle
      for a lousy chair with tires
      and doing so has took away
      some things my heart desired!

      It took away some freedom,
      made some things slightly worse.
      But it gave me time to think of ways
      to entertain with verse!

Tom's book is available at the Horse Barn in Kamloops and at Cowboy's Choice in Vernon. The cost is only $14.95 (Can) plus shipping and handling if necessary. A portion of the proceeds from the book go to the MS Society.


COWBOY POETRY CD REVIEW

Cowboy Poems and Outright Lies
by Hal Swift

Available from SilverCreek:

 

 

Review by Johnny Gunn:

There are bushel baskets filled with humor in the 25 offerings, and several pint jars filled with tears as well.  A buckaroo's life can be generous, heartbreaking, sad, and filled with joy.   Swift is filled with empathy for the cowboy, for the cowboy's way, for all the traditions of the west, handed down by those who ride the trails, eat too many rabbits (see page 26), live life in all its gregariousness.

(Johnny Gunn is the editor of The Nevada Observer)
 


STORYTELLING BOOK REVIEW


Yesterday's Yarns: Real Tales from the Real West
by Ken Overcast
illustrated by Ben Crane

Available from www.KenOvercast.com
Bear Valley Press
PO Box 1542
Chinook, MT 59523

Review by Jeff Streeby

The old saying goes:  "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."  Well, the inside of this book may be even better than that.

This collection of humorous anecdotes, little histories, little mysteries, regional folklore, cowboy philosophy, and intimate glimpses into family life on the Northern Ranges is a rewarding cultural tour of the Highline region of Montana.

Ken Overcast himself is the real deal.  A real cowboy from a real ranch family in one of the least hospitable agricultural environments in the world, his is the voice of the real West.  Unquenchably optimistic, friendly, and as familiar and reassuring as Grandma's oatmeal cookies, his warmly conversational style immediately involves the reader in circumstances sometimes quirky, sometimes profound and with characters who are wise or good or naïve or comically villainous or deadly as a prairie rattlesnake.

These little stories cover just about every topic you could name, from the best excuse ever for being two hours late for school, to an unsolved murder mystery, to advice on what to do if you drop your favorite shovel into the irrigation ditch and then you spot your wife swathing hay in a bikini less than a quarter mile away.

No matter whom you are and no matter where you are, you will find yourself at home with Ken. His delightful stories take you far away from your ordinary day-to-day experiences.  He puts you, willing or no, onto the vast Montana ranges or high among the peaks of the Bearpaw Mountains and among people you wish you could know.


COWBOY POETRY CD REVIEW

Friendly Folks & Old Cowpokes
Frank Gleeson, Fastest Cowboy in The West
by Frank Gleeson
produced by Richard Wright at Grassroots Studio
recorded Live at Pioneer Ranch, Williams Lake BC
all poems written by Frank Gleeson

To order or for more information, contact:

Frank Gleeson
Site 10 Comp 5 RR# 1
Williams Lake BC V2G 4M8
www.cowboy-poet.com

Review by Mike Puhallo

Over the last few years Frank Gleeson has developed a reputation as one the top Cowboy humorists in the west. His unique fast paced delivery and his particularly off the wall brand of humour has left audiences shaking their heads and laughing from Stony Plain to Elko. Frank has been nominated several times by the Academy of Western Artists for Cowboy Poet and Cowboy Humorist of the year and is a favourite with fans every where he goes. 

Friendly Folks & Old Cowpokes is a collection of 27 great poems that Frank Gleeson fans will just have to have. As a matter of fact about half the poems on this CD will probably be regarded as "Cowboy Classics" in the years to come. In addition to Franks unique fast paced brand of humour, we also get a look at his sensitive side with his touching tribute to his old friend Bud McKague.

For any lover of cowboy poetry and western humour, this is one CD you just gotta have!


COWBOY POETRY CD REVIEW

Freedom For The Cowboy
by Starchild, AKA Glenn Rafuse
produced by Galen Tough at Taming Hope Studios and Sound
graphic design, back up vocals and music by Tammy Gislason

To order or for more information contact:
Glenn Rafuse 
RR # 1
Bowden Alberta T0M 0K0
(403) 224-3837

Review by Mike Puhallo

Glenn Rafuse is the real deal, one of those who has been quietly writing and reciting his poetry while making a living as a stockman and ranch hand for the better part of the last fifty years. From the rugged Gang Ranch country of British Columbia through the Foothills of Alberta, Glenn has worn a lot of leather off the tree and built a thousand miles of fence. He has always written under the pen name of Starchild and been published in a few magazines over the years but did not put out his first book until just a couple years ago. 

This is Glenn's first CD and the twelve poems take you on a marvelous journey through his life in Western Canada's cow country. Glenn's poetic style is elegant in it's simplicity. His stories are sincere and thoughtful, told with the quiet grace that reflects a life on the range. Glenn Rafuse is not a professional entertainer, his humour is subtle and his thoughts are deep. He is one of those true poets of the West who kept the stories and poems alive when no one else seemed too notice.

The Story of Starchild is one of the poems in this collection, along with 11 others that are each a classic in their own right. Glenn may not be well known to the public, his works have not been widely published, but he is a Cowboy's poet and I am sure glad he took the time to get his poems recorded!


WESTERN MUSIC CD REVIEW 

Church at the Wagon
by Fletcher Jowers
produced and arranged by Tommy Allsup for Pistol Hill Music
recorded at the Sumet/ASC Recording Studio, Dallas, Texas
lead guitar, rhythm guitar, harmony vocals - Tommy Allsup
fiddle - Bobby Boatright
rhythm guitar, harmony vocals) - Donny Catron
bass fiddle, harmony vocals - Mark Abbott
engineer - Mark Petty

Available from www.FletcherJowers.com
Fletcher Jowers
150 Alesha Rd
Red Oak, TX 75154
1-888-876-6038

Review by Mark Holt

There are voices that as soon as you hear them, they transport you to another time.   Authentic, western, cowboy, ranch music are what Fletcher Jowers sounds like.  He has one of those voices that is comfortable, like your favorite pair of worn, dusty boots. Fletcher reminds me of Sam Elliott ("Conager," "Tombstone," "Beef, It's What's for Dinner") and Ken Curtis ( Sons of the Pioneers, and later Festus on "Gunsmoke").  Their voices are as recognizable (and as Western) as their faces.  You hear those kinds of voices and you just know it's western! You say to yourself, "I can relax now and enjoy. This is going to be a real western"...

Church at the Wagon is a cowboy gospel project.  Fletcher has presented his brand of cowboy music throughout the country for several years.  He has received several awards for his writing and recording of authentic cowboy music. Church at the Wagon contains nine original songs, along with Marty Robbins' "Masters Call."

The project's title cut is a story about a wagon cook "Coosi," who buys an old Bible from a peddler just before leaving out on the trail, bound for Abilene.  He proclaims "We'll have church at the wagon".....

My personal favorites are "Ol Snake," a story of a preacher making a deal with some cowboys that he will ride "Ol Snake," the meanest bronc on the place, in return for their church attendance.  It all happens, and "Ol Snake" becomes the top horse in the string.

I also liked Fletcher's cover of Marty Robbins' "Masters Call." Marty could just plain write a song! Fletcher does a great job with it.

The gut string guitar work on this album is really, really, well done. Tommy Allsup is the lead guitar player, and Tommy's guitar work really transports the feel of this CD "south of the Rio Grande."  The mix and production on this CD is way above average.  Besides Fletcher Jowers, other musicians listed are Tommy Allsup (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, harmony vocals), Bobby Boatright (fiddle), Donny Catron (rhythm guitar, harmony vocals), Mark Abbott (bass fiddle, harmony vocals), Mark Petty (engineer).  It was recorded at ASC Recording Studios, Dallas, Texas.

Fletcher Jowers and the group of backup musicians on this album just set a tone and feel for these songs, that make this album a nice, subtle, cowboy gospel listen.

Read more about Fletcher Jowers and his work here at CowboyPoetry.com


POETRY (WORK IN PROGRESS)


 

 

 

 











    
Jeff Streeby, photograph by Jan Herzog

Sunday Creek
by Jeff Streeby
this work in progress and additional reviews can be read here

review by Rachel Barenblat, Executive Director, Inkberry  

I've been tempted, at times, to claim that Jeff Streeby's Sunday Creek transcends the label "cowboy poetry." Outside the cowboy poetry community, awareness of the genre is limited -- and Streeby's collection is so strong and so compelling that I want to say it's more than just good cowboy poetry, it's good poetry, period.

But to claim that Sunday Creek is too good to be genre poetry is to do a disservice to the book and to its readers, not to mention to the genre. Yes, Streeby's collection is cowboy poetry, and if that's not a genre you read yet, it should be.

Within these pages you'll find a dazzling array of narrative voices, the entire population of the town of Sunday Creek speaking from beyond the grave. Here are ranchers and rustlers, judges and prostitutes, Native Americans and Irish immigrants. Here are women and men, young and old, those who love the West and those who didn't intend to stay. To speak for every member of a dead town -- to span generations, communities, life-experiences -- and to do so genuinely is a tall order, but it's one Streeby's more than able to fill.

Streeby manages to convey dozens of different voices, each distinctive and unique; each poem stands both apart from, and connected with, its brothers. These poems are funny, poignant, and sad. Streeby grounds the book's voices in historical details -- and somehow manages to make every poem ring true. If this is your first encounter with cowboy poetry, with Jeff Streeby, or with Sunday Creek, you're in for a treat-and if you've been here before and are returning for a second or third or tenth reading, welcome back. Sunday Creek's been waiting for you.

 

Read more about Jeff Streeby and some of his poetry here at CowboyPoetry.com

 


COWBOY POETRY BOOK 

   

Little Bit of Texas
by Rod Nichols

Available on line from Rod Nichols
Rod Nichols
P.O. Box 215
6140 Hwy. 6
Missouri City, TX 77459

review by Gene O'Quinn

Experienced native Texan Cowboy Poet Rod Nichols, the first Lariat Laureate of the popular CowboyPoetry.com internet gathering, has produced a finely crafted book of 96 original poems.  The poetry of this excellent writer with a cowboy heart features a variety of rhyme schemes and has themes that include the ranching life, the humorous side of cowboy life, faith and inspiration, nature, and Texas.

A Little Bit of Texas is Texas-sized poetry: with deep roots and wide horizons.  His title poem was read at the 2000 Republican National Convention prior to President George W. Bush's nomination.  As Rod says, there is "A little bit of Texas in every cowboy."

A Little Bit of Texas is a book you will want to add to your poetry library and then to read it time and again.  The reader will enjoy Robert W. Service-like poems such as "Pearly Gates Saloon" or "Ace in the Hole."   A personal favorite "In God's Hands" and tales like "Windy" and "One More Day" which end with a wisdom that grabs your attention. Sample "Little Britches" as Rod writes;

        For height ain't all that matters, son,
        in the measure of a man,
        it's what's inside that counts the most
        in the Great Almighty's plan.

Nichols' disciplined structure is apparent in each of his poems, written with the rhythm of hoof beats.  Rod Nichols is a credit to the Cowboy Poetry genre and A Little Bit of Texas is a real treat, a must read.

This review appeared in Rope Burns, Sep/Oct 2002; reprinted with permission

read more about Rod Nichols and his poetry here at CowboyPoetry.com

 


 

 

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