WHEN DUTCHY PLAYS THE MOUTH HARP by Robert V. Carr 1872-1931


by Robert V. Carr 1872-1931

When Dutchy plays th’ mouth harp,
All th’ fellers gather ’round,
An’ help on with th’ music,
By a-stompin’ on th’ ground;
An’ th’ cook he cuts a shuffle,
An’ the night hawk pats his hand,
When Dutchy plays th’ mouth harp,
In a way to beat th’ band.

When Dutchy plays th’ mouth harp,
An’ we’ve cached our chuck away,
An’ a-feelin’ mighty foxy
An’ a feelin’ mighty gay,
There’s nothin’ we like better
Than to lend a pattin’ hand,
When Dutchy plays th’ mouth harp,
In a way to beat th’ band.

When Dutchy plays th’ mouth harp—
Plays a cake walk mighty fine—
‘Tis then us ole cowpunchers
Come a-steppin’ down th’ line;
Around th’ fire shuffilin’
An’ a-pattin’ of th’ hand,
When Dutchy plays th’ mouth harp,
In a way to beat th’ band.

by Robert V. Carr

Robert V. Carr wrote poetry and short fiction that was frequently published in Western magazines. His early years were spent in South Dakota. He was a part of Seth Bullock’s Cowboy Brigade and the “official poet” for the band of cowboys who were invited to President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade.

A 1913 article quotes him, “I believe I was about 14 years old when, in addition to an overpowering ambition to be a cowboy, I began to cherish fond hopes of becoming a writer. Possessing a couple of Indian ponies, I drifted from ranch to ranch, from cow outfit to cow outfit, and when I was not annoying the cooks, I was scribbling poetry. Some of those verses I sent to a country editor. He returned them with a note to the effect that they were not worth space. Years later that editor transgressed the law and was sent to jail. That served as an awful warning to me, and later, when I became a country newspaper editor, I always published the poetry sent in.”

Find more at CowboyPoetry.com.

Gary Allegretto gives new life to this old poem, in a great arrangement in the excellent new release, Blues on the Trail.


Pure entertainment, the album is a gift to the Western music, raising the bar high for quality and professionalism. Drawing on the deep roots of the blues and cowboy music, the traditional and original tunes shine with originality and impressive talent.

Rich with varied musical artistry and inspired lyrics, Blues on the Trail offers humor, adventure, history, matters of the heart, and more. Freedom and life on the road figure largely, and a line from “No Place Like Home” epitomizes the theme in true blues fashion, “There ain’t no place like home, that is why I love the road.”

Gary Allegretto’s talent is as generous as he is; for over thirty years his non-profit Harmonikids has offered international outreach to young people in need, from juvenile detention centers to disaster locations. An often-featured performer at Western events, his popular harmonica workshops are usually sold out.

Gary has a long career outside of the Western genre as well, with acclaimed performances and albums and awards. Find more about him and order information for “Blues on the Trail” and his other work at garyallegretto.com.

This poem and photograph are in the public domain.

TALENT by Rod Nichols, 1942-2007


photo ©2017, Gary Allegretto. Request permission for use.

by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)

Lord knows why the boss ever hired him,
he wuzn’t what you’d call a hand,
he stayed in our way or in trouble,
not much of a cowboy that man.

I think that the boss would’ve fired him,
just waited to find the right way,
til after our supper one evenin’
he took a mouth-organ and played.

It might have been Red River Valley
or Down In The Valley so low
or Kathleen or Come To The Bower,
to this day I don’t rightly know.

But that doesn’t really much matter
cause whatever tune that he played,
when that rascal pup started playin’
we all wuz right glad that he’d stayed.

Have you felt the warm wind on the prairie,
the soft mourning call of a dove,
then you may have some sort of feelin’
for what we wuz all thinkin’ of.

The cares of the day soon forgotten,
they vanished without any trace,
there wuzn’t an hombre among us
without a big smile on his face.

The Lord gives to each man a talent
to use or to hide as he may,
there wuzn’t no doubt ’bout his talent
whenever that feller had played.

Lord grant me just one little favor,
please help me a bit now and then,
to call on just half of such talent
to shine as a light before men.

© 2002, Rod Nichols
This poem should not be re-posted or reprinted without permission

Texas poet Rod Nichols is greatly missed by his many friends. He wrote this poem soon after September 11, 2001, and he told us, “… I have never seen so much interest in cowboy poetry, story telling, music and western art as I have seen since the Sept. 11th attack. I think folks are beginning to look for answers in our past and the American cowboy fills the bill. Here is one more that speaks to the use of the talents that the Good Lord has given us all whatever they may be.”

Find more about Rod Nichols at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photo is by top harmonica player, popular entertainer, and educator Gary Allegretto. He comments that it is, “My very rare and ornate Hohner “Trumpet Call” harmonica. A gift from my father, it is nearly 100 years old. Monetarily it’s probably worth more than my pickup truck…sentimentally of course it’s priceless.”

Gary is on his way to Hawaii to perform in coming days. Find him as a headliner at the 32nd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, March 2-3-2018 and at many other events and venues across the West and beyond. Find more at garyallegretto.com.