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Western Music Association Festival
2008

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The 2008 20th Annual Western Music Association (WMA) Festival  took place in November in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Below you'll find a list of award winners, a report by William Merritt with photos by Lori Faith Merritt (www.photographybyfaith.com), the Mayor's Executive Order, and additional links.

See the Western Music Association web site for information about membership, the annual festival, and more. 

 

 

Below:

Report by William Merritt

Additional Links

The 2008 Award Winners and Top-Five Nominees

Mayoral Executive Order


 

See reports and photos from previous festivals:

2007
2006

Find our feature on the WMA here.

 

 

The WMA welcomed poet members in 2006, and introduced awards that recognize cowboy poets: Female Poet of the Year, Male Poet of the Year, and Best Collaboration of Poet and Musician. In 2007, two new awards were added: Best Cowboy Poetry Book and Best Cowboy Poetry CD.

 

 

www.westernmusic.com

 


Report from the 2008 Event

by William Merritt, with photographs by Lori Faith Merritt

Although the Western Music Association formally incorporated in 1989, this year was the 20th anniversary for the Western Music Association (WMA) festival. Back in 1988 some of the most prestigious names in western music had a gathering and developed a vision for an organization that would carry on the western genre and the values it embodies. Through the support of its members, sponsors and the dedicated volunteers, the WMA provides a festival that offers resources and workshops to “foster the professional growth of individual performing members.” Fast-forward a couple decades to the Marriott Albuquerque, November 19-23rd, 2008 for the WMA annual festival. Along with the performances and other fun there were a number of workshops designed to teach, share and augment the skills of any songwriter and/or performer. Of course, all of this was also available and open to anyone who maybe just wanted to have fun and gain a deeper appreciation of western music.


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Jean Prescott, Best Song Collaboration of Poet and Musician winner (with Yvonne Hollenbeck)

As a premium pre-conference offering on Wednesday, Curly Musgrave, Juni Fisher and Dave Stamey led the Songwriters Workshop from 9 am -6 pm. Brought in on the panel to cover poetry and lyrics was Les Buffham. As most song writers know, a good song rarely, if ever, “drops from the sky.” A major part of what is considered “talent” is knowing the songwriting process and how to access and harness your creativity. If someone had ever wanted to know how these song writers did what they did so that they could too, this was the place to be!


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Juni Fisher, Songwriter of the Year winner

On Thursday the festival “officially” began. The first workshop was offered by Juni Fisher and Belinda Gail, with a special appearance by Curly Musgrave. The focus was to help a performer become more aware of themselves (or their band mates) on or off the stage. What the participants found is that there were some simple things that could be done to help even the sound and lighting crew through a more skilled and conscious presentation. Juni Fisher concurred with participant Paula Strong (of the band Trails and Rails) when Paula said, “If you know you look good, it gives you an edge as a performer.” Good advice from two busy performers.

From 11:00-12:00 was the DJ Panel moderated by Joe Baker with slated panelists Dick Hall, Rick Huff, Barbara Richhart, O.J. Sikes and Al Krtil. A couple of the major topics discussed were the need for an established criteria and standards for one western music chart. Another was the need to incorporate new media and being able to leverage new technologies for western music as they come along.

Patty Clayton has been leading the WMA in song and speech when it comes to the Paniolo—the Hawaiian cowboy! Hawaii’s governor, Linda Lingle, proclaimed 2008, “The Year of the Paniolo." From 10:30-11:30 she shared this part of cowboy culture and history. Had they been there, Governor Lingle and the folks at Paniolo Preservation Society would have been button busting proud! You gotta admit, when it comes to the American West, you don’t get farther west than Hawaii!

Dennis Jay led a singer/songwriter panel featuring the new, up-and-coming faces in western music. Along with Dennis Jay sharing songs and insights were Eddy Harrison from Las Cruces, New Mexico; James Michael, from Colorado and New Mexico; and sojourner Les Buffham who hails from wherever he happens to be at the time.

WMA Board of Directors member Marilyn Tuttle, along with Judy Coder and Belinda Gail, conducted a three hour Harmony Workshop. The Workshop, developed by WMA member Carolyn Baker (founder of Daughters of the Purple Sage), presents the fundamentals of singing, chord structure, and arranging, in an interactive fun and easy way. "People typically think of great harmonies when they think of western music groups. Since people have been asking, 'How do they do that?,' the
Harmony Workshop is an introductory answer to that question," said Baker.

Everybody’s favorite Harmonicowboy, Gary Allegretto, taught a three-hour Harmonica Workshop. With free harmonicas courtesy of the WMA, there were people of all ages learning harmonica “the cowboy way!” Gary tours internationally as a performer and has a great way of bringing the complete novice to playing a tune in almost no time at all. And that he did!

Thursday night was dedicated to the heroes that make up our military past & present. All military personnel were given free tickets and a well deserved salute emceed by Marvin Odell. The band STAMPEDE! led a musical tribute featuring the theme songs of the Navy, Air Force, Army and the Marine Corps. This led into Thursday night’s Special Event performers Wylie and The Wild West. If you weren’t sitting in the audience clapping or tapping your toes, you probably grabbed a dance partner and headed for the dance floor. Rumor had it that by the end of Wylie’s and the Wild West’s set, you either had sore feet from dancing or sore cheeks from smiling all the time!


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Journey West and Horse Crazy in an impromptu jam

Friday had many musical and poetry performer showcases along with an “open mic” session running non-stop from 9 am - 6 pm. As expected, impromptu jams popped up in every nook of the Marriott’s main areas had to offer! The Mercantile was opened and the items for the Silent Auction were set out. The Silent Auction was filled with one-of-a-kind and rare memorabilia to gift baskets, CD bundles, a collection of 78 rpm records (kids, ask your parents what that means) and R.W. Hampton even donated a mare! There was definitely something of interest for everyone.


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Poet Jane Morton in showcase

This year the Lunch With a Legend was with Lynn Anderson. For those not familiar with the format, Lunch with a Legend is a premium event. It offers an exclusive venue to sit and have lunch while a host interviews a legend from western music with a Q&A at the end. Gracious and fun as always, Lynn offered stories and insights that will be a special “once in a lifetime” event for those that were there.


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Barbara Richhart ("Western Belle") and Lynn Anderson

Friday night was the WMA Dinner and Opry event. Emceed by Marvin and Teresa O’Dell, the line-up consisted of (although not in this order) Tom Hiatt and Bill Barwick with vocal back-up from Journey West and Teresa O’Dell; Carin Mari and Pony Express; The Tumbling Tumbleweeds; Horse Crazy; “Harmonicowboy” Gary Allegretto; Chuckwagon Chuck & Miss Devon Dawson with Washtub Jerry; the harmony trio of Marilyn Tuttle, Audrey McLaughlin and Judy Coder; Jerry Hall and Trickshot; Larry Wilder; Open Range with Washtub Jerry; Journey West; Jean Prescott; Barry Ward; K.G. and The Ranger; Ray Doyle; Sam Deleeuw; Slim McNaught; Les Buffham; Dick Morton; Sid Hausman with Washtub Jerry; Linda Kirkpatrick; Monty Teel; and Dennis Jay.


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
 Dick Morton


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Sam Deleeuw
 


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Slim McNaught
 

On Saturday from 11 to 5 was the Youth Track with showcases and workshops. The Youth Program is being headed by Jim Jones. Jim understands that the future of western music belongs to them and wants to make sure they have the support and resources needed to make their visions come true. The session touched on performance and songwriting. Most of the time was focused on songwriting. The way Jim tells it, everyone left with a song that was finished or had a good start on one. As any songwriter will tell you, that is quite an accomplishment!


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Cora Wood, Yodel Contest winner

The Harmony and Yodeling contest were also held with the results to be announced at the big gala awards event later on that evening. Along with the performer showcases going on throughout the day were Ralph Hampton and Tamara Boatright of Ralph’s Back Porch doing their live internet Western Radio Show with commentary, interviews and live musical performances throughout the day. As this goes to press, you can find archived recordings at www.ralphsbackporch.com.

The main event held in the Marriott Albuquerque’s main Ballroom was the 20th Annual WMA Awards Show. Hosted by WMA President Steve Taylor, the night featured performances by R.W. Hampton, Dave Stamey, Bill Barwick, Diane Tribitt, Donnie Blanz, Les Buffham, Juni Fisher, Patty Clayton, Curly Musgrave & Belinda Gail, Joyce Woodson, David Anderson, Miss Devon Dawson, Marvin O'Dell, and Trails & Rails. Les Buffham and Linda Kirkpatrick also did poems before presenting of the poet of the year awards.


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Diane Tribitt
 


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Linda Kirkpatrick
 


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Devon Dawson

 


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Les Buffham, Male Poet winner
 


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
The Tumbling Tumbleweeds; Crescendo Award

Cowboy Church on Sunday morning allowed everyone to come together to pray, reflect and fellowship before heading home and elsewhere. No matter your faith, Cowboy Church is always a good time to come together and enjoy each other’s company and focus on what binds us all as believers. 

The Western Music Association values each one of its members and other supporters. If you are a fan, a performer or a business, the WMA thanks you! It is only because of the well wishes, enthusiastic volunteer efforts and monetary investments that allow the WMA to offer more to the world. This festival grows bigger every year! This shows us, once again, what stunning talent and amazing people belong to the western music community.

 We invite you to come to Albuquerque in 2009 for the 21st Annual Festival. You can learn more about becoming a member of the Western Music Association from any member or at www.westernmusic.org To view and purchase images from the WMA Festival and Awards, visit the Proofs and Prints page at www.PhotographyByFaith.com.

© 2008, William Merritt
 


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
 

Lori Faith Merritt shared this photo and commented: Les Buffham “cleaned up” as the Western Music Association Male Poet for 2008. This image was created by me in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on my way home from serving as official photographer for the WMA Awards and Festival, held in Albuquerque November 20th-23rd, 2008. I photographed Les at A-10 Etcheverry’s home. A-10 is a cowboy cartoonist who is working on a book with Les.

 

 


Additional Links

 

  Festival photographs by Lori Faith Merritt at her Proofs and Prints page at www.PhotographyByFaith.com. [photo of Lori Faith Merritt by Jeri Dobrowski]

 

  Audio recordings from the event at Ralph's Back Porch

 

  Seven-year-old Cora Wood of Wyoming won the youth Yodeling contest. Her performances from the event are posted at YouTube:  Yodel Contest, "Cora's Cowgirl Yodel"; "Old Cook Grady," "Cowboy's Sweetheart," and "Cora's Cowgirl Yodel" open mic sessions; and performing with Devon Dawson in a jam at the festival.

 

  Additional videos at YouTube:

The harmony trio of Marilyn Tuttle, Audrey McLaughlin here.

Judy Coder yodels here.

 

We welcome additional links. Email us.

 


 

2008 Western Music Association Award Winners

 

  Winners of the Western Music Association (WMA) awards were announced at the organization's twentieth annual Western Music Festival November 20-23, 2008 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Winners in cowboy poetry categories are:

FEMALE POET OF THE YEAR: Yvonne Hollenbeck
MALE POET OF THE YEAR:  Les Buffham
COWBOY POETRY CD OF THE YEAR: Pieces of the Past by Yvonne Hollenbeck
COWBOY POETRY BOOK OF THE YEAR: Arizona Women by Buckshot Dot (Dee Strickland Johnson)

BEST SONG COLLABORATION OF POET AND MUSICIAN: "Dining Out" by Jean Prescott & Yvonne Hollenbeck

Music-category winners are:

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR:  Dave Stamey
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR: Juni Fisher
FEMALE PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: Belinda Gail
MALE PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: Dave Stamey

COWBOY/WESTERN SWING DUO/GROUP: Wylie and the Wild West
COWBOY/ WESTERN SWING ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Bucking Horse Moon by Wylie and the Wild West

TRADITIONAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Oklahoma, Where the West Remains by R.W. Hampton
TRADITIONAL DUO/GROUP:  Belinda Gail & Curly Musgrave 

SONG OF THE YEAR:  "If I Hadn't Seen the West" by Joyce Woodson  
CRESCENDO AWARD: The Tumbling Tumbleweeds
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR: Jeanne Cahill (Call of the West)

Radio-category winners are:

RADIO STATION OF THE YEAR: KFDI - Wichita, Kansas
RADIO DJ OF THE YEAR:
Johnny Western
 

Additional awards of tribute were presented, selected by the Board of Directors:  

BILL WILEY AWARD: Mary Ryland

HALL OF FAME:  Lloyd Perryman, Dale Warren, Bing Crosby, Tommy Doss, and Ian Tyson

The winners of the Harmony and Yodeling contests were (thanks to Lori Faith Merritt for the list):

HARMONY:
Best of Show:
The Tumbling Tumbleweeds
Trio:
Journey West
Duo:
Vince and Mindi
Youth:
Carin Mari and Pony Express


YODELING:
Youth:
Cora Rose Wood
Teen:
Carin Mari and Pony Express
Male:
Larry Wilder
Female:
Judy Coder

 


The Top-Five Nominees
2008

 

The top five nominees in all cowboy poetry categories are:

MALE POET OF THE YEAR 
Les Buffham
Van Criddle
Andy Nelson

Pat Richardson
Michael Whitaker


FEMALE POET OF THE YEAR
Buckshot Dot (Dee Strickland Johnson)
Doris Daley
Sam DeLeeuw
Yvonne Hollenbeck
Diane Tribitt


BEST SONG COLLABORATION OF POET AND MUSICIAN
"Born to Be a Cowboy" by David Anderson & Sam DeLeeuw
"Dining Out" by Jean Prescott & Yvonne Hollenbeck
"Shades of the West" by Doris Daley & Eli Barsi
"Thinkin' About Montana" by Walt Richards & Les Buffham
Where the Wild Horses Run" by Terri Taylor & Curly Syndergaard
 

COWBOY POETRY CD OF THE YEAR
Good for What Ails You
by Doris Daley
Of Horses & Men by Jay Snider
Pieces of the Past by Yvonne Hollenbeck
Sixteen Horses by Van Criddle
Spreadin' Sunshine by Sam DeLeeuw


COWBOY POETRY BOOK OF THE YEAR
Arizona Women
by Buckshot Dot (Dee Strickland Johnson)
Tim McCoy: A Wyoming Poet by Dick Hall
Tradin' Tales from a Montana Porch by Ken Overcast
Trail Mix by Diane Tribitt
Western Images by Clark Crouch

The top-five nominees in other categories are:

FEMALE PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
Eli Barsi
Jeanne Cahill (Call of the West)
Patty Clayton
Juni Fisher

Belinda Gail


MALE PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
Bill Barwick
Don Edwards

R.W. Hampton
Curly Musgrave
Dave Stamey
 

TRADITIONAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Ghosts of Tombstone by Trails and Rails
If I Hadn’t Seen the West by Joyce Woodson
Oklahoma, Where the West Remains by R.W. Hampton
Old Friends by Dave Stamey
Sweethearts in Carhartts by Jean Prescott


TRADITIONAL DUO/GROUP
Call of the West
Belinda Gail & Curly Musgrave
 
Riders In The Sky
Sons of the San Joaquin
Trails and Rails


SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR:
Les Buffham

Juni Fisher
Curly Musgrave 
Dave Stamey
Joyce Woodson


SONG OF THE YEAR
"Bitter Creek" by Marvin O’Dell
"Born to be a Cowboy" by David Anderson &  Sam DeLeeuw
"If I Hadn’t Seen the West" by Joyce Woodson
"Keepin’ Your Head Above Water" by Devon Dawson
"Thinkin’ About Montana" by Les Buffham & Walt Richards
 

INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
Jeanne Cahill (Call of the West)
Ray Doyle
(Wylie & the Wild West)
Joey Miskulin
(Riders in the Sky)
Curly Musgrave

Walt Richards (Trails and Rails)


COWBOY/WESTERN SWING DUO/GROUP
Asleep at the Wheel
Call of the West
Riders in the Sky
The Texas Trailhands
Wylie and the Wild West


COWBOY/ WESTERN SWING ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Bucking Horse Moon by Wylie & The Wild West
Jumping Time by The Time Jumpers
Keepin’ Your Head Above Water by Devon Dawson
Singin’ Down the Road by Judy Coder & Pride of the Prairie
Timeless by The Quebe Sisters Band


CRESCENDO AWARD
Carin Mari & Pony Express
Kevin Davis
Sam DeLeeuw
Sons & Brothers
The Tumbling Tumbleweeds


ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Bill Barwick
Juni Fisher

R.W. Hampton
Riders in the Sky
Dave Stamey


RADIO STATION OF THE YEAR
KFDI – Wichita, Kansas
KRLC – Lewiston, Idaho
KNMB – Ruidoso, New Mexico
KOTS – Deming, New Mexico
KSJD – Cortez, Colorado


RADIO DJ OF THE YEAR
Joe Baker
Marvin O'Dell
Andy & Jim Nelson

O.J. Sikes
Johnny Western


Mayoral Executive Order

Thanks to Rick Huff for providing this copy of the Executive Order from Albuquerque Mayor Martin J. Chávez

See the Western Music Association web site for information about membership, the annual festival, and more. 

 


 

 

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