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.

President’s Day



Us punchers sling no haughty style,
Nor go we much on manners;
We look on dudelets out this way
As only fit for “canners;”
And that is why you hear us cry
We’re always glad and ready
To throw our hats and let a yell
In honor of our Teddy.
…by Robert V. Carr

Here’s a Presidents’ Day salute to the cowboy president, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the 26th President of the United States.

In 1905, a group of “wild and wooly” cowboys, most from the Black Hills region, were invited by their friend, President Theodore Roosevelt (“Teddy” to them), to take part in his inaugural parade. The “Cowboy Brigade” was organized by Captain Seth Bullock of Deadwood, South Dakota.

The poem above is by Robert V. Carr (1877-1931), who was one of the of 60 cowboys. Tom Mix was also a member of the group.

Missouri ranch manager Carl Steiger, along with others, has been researching the identities of the cowboys in the Cowboy Brigade, “trying to find their stories before they are lost forever.” See our feature about the Cowboy Brigade, which includes articles by Seth Bullock and others and much more about the search at CowboyPoetry.com.

Find more about Robert V. Carr and more of his poetry in our feature here.

This 1903 photo is captioned, “Cowboys following the train and cheering President Roosevelt, Hugo, Colorado.” It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Find a trailer of a documentary filmed on location at the Roosevelt ranches, Theodore Roosevelt: A Cowboy’s Ride to the White House.