TURN ‘EM LOOSE lyrics by Susie Knight


lyrics by Susie Knight

1) Rise ‘n shine. Coffee’s hot.

Homemade biscuits, steak ‘n’ eggs hit the spot!
In the corral, there’s yer cayuse.

Tack him up; you’re gonna ride, or we’ll turn him loose!

— Today we’re ridin’ north to gather mares.
They got colts so we’ll be trailin’ pairs.
If you wanna join us, don’t you snooze!
Make a hand! Ride that horse, or we’ll turn him loose!

Oo-oo-ooo, oo-oo-oo-ooo!

2) We’ll trail ‘em home to this corral.
Wean the colts we know for sure we’re gonna sell.
Work till dark; there’s no excuse.
If the job’s too tough, just nod. We’ll cut ya loose!

—But if you give your all and work all day,
You’ll prove you’ve got the sand you need to stay.
We save the best for last so we can choose
Who’ll open up that gate to turn ‘em loose!

Oo-oo-ooo, YIP! Oo-oo-oo-ooo!

Can’t ya see it in their eyes, kickin’ dust up to the skies.
Those horses want that gate to slip its noose!

3) So, here’s your chance to view the grand parade
As a hundred hooves thunder through the gate.
Ride up to the fence, you paid your dues.
It’s time to open up the gate ‘n’ turn ‘em loose!

…We’ve chosen YOU to run the gate…turn ‘em loose!
…Give ‘em room…their comin’ through!!! TURN ‘EM LOOSE!!!

© 2013, Susie Knight
These lyrics should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Energetic Colorado poet, songwriter, musician, storyteller, and entertainer Susie Knight shares the title poem from her new CD. She told us, “In August of 2013, my husband, Dave, gave me a kiss good-bye as he left to go to work, and he said, ‘You know, you haven’t written a song in a long time.’ He was right. I was spending most of my time writing and rewriting my cowboy poetry. As he walked out, I focused my attention on my favorite print that hangs in our home. It’s entitled ‘Turn ’em Loose’ and created by Oregon artist, Dyrk Godby. I began to think about the scene…the herd of galloping horses fighting their way to escape out of the mighty corral gate.

“I’d seen this scene many times in ‘real life’ over the years when I lived on my family’s Circle M Ranch in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. So, I grabbed my guitar, and the scenario I remembered well unfolded into lyrics and song…

“Dyrk Godby was so kind to allow me permission to use his glorious work of art for the album’s cover. There’s so much more to tell about this work of art, it’s significance to my personal memories, and why it’s such a precious treasure on my wall, but I guess you’ll have to catch up to me down the road and ask for ‘the rest of the story.'”

Turn ’em Loose is filled with music as well as poems. She weaves a poem into the atmospheric “The Windmill Sound” and gives a moving recitation of Jeff Carson’s “Holdin’ the Reins.” A woman of wide talents, Susie Knight, also a retired professional clown, includes a song for kids “Lasso the Cowgirl.” She also performs for the elderly and that work gave way to “Out Toward the West.” The music, like Susie Knight, is often upbeat, and her liner notes point out the two-step and waltz songs. There are amusing themes and happy love songs such as “Cowboy, Ride on Over” and the more bittersweet “Just One O’ Them Days”; songs inspired by her time on South Dakota’s Circle M Ranch; and heartfelt spiritual music such as “Heaven and Horses,” inspired by the 2018 Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering poster.

You can listen or download the entire album at susieknight.hearnow.com.

Find video and all of her CDs and more at susieknight.com.

(Request permission to share these lyrics.)

THE TEXAS COWBOY traditional

brigidjohnnyBrigid and Johnny “Guitar” Reedy photo © 2019, John Reedy


O, I’m a Texas cowboy
and far away from home,
If I get back to Texas,
I never more will roam.

Montana is too cold for me
and the winters are too long
Before the roundups do begin,
your money is all gone.

To win these fancy leggins,
you’ll have enough to do
They cost me twenty dollars
the day that they were new;

And this old hen-skin bedding
is too thin to keep me warm
I nearly freeze to death, boys,
whenever there’s a storm.

I’ve worked down in Nebraska
where the grass grows ten feet high,
Where the cattle are such rustlers,
they hardly ever die;

I’ve worked up in the Sand Hills
and down along the Platte
Where the punchers are good fellows
and the cattle always fat.

I’ve traveled lots of country,
from Nebraska’s hills of sand
Down through the Indian Nation
and up the Rio Grande

But the badlands of Montana
are the worst I’ve ever seen
The cowboys are all tenderfeet
and the dogies are too lean.

They wake you in the morning
before the break of day
And send you on a circle
a hundred miles away,

Your grub is bread and bacon
and coffee black as ink
And water so full of alkali
it’s hardly fit to drink.

If you want to see some badlands,
go over to the Dry
You’ll bog down in the coulees
where the mountains meet the sky.

With a tenderfoot to guide you,
who never knows the way
You are playing in the best of luck
if you eat three times a day.

Up along the Yellowstone,
it’s cold the whole year round,
And you’ll surely get consumption
if you sleep upon the ground;

Your pay is almost nothing
for six months in the year
And when your debts are settled,
there’s nothing left for beer.

Now all you Texas cowboys,
this warning take from me,
Don’t come up to Montana
to spend your money free.

But stay at home in Texas
where there’s work the whole year round
And you’ll never get consumption
from sleeping on the ground.


Jim Bob Tinsley, in his 1981 book, He Was Singin’ This Song, notes that this piece appeared as a poem in March, 1888, in the Glendive Independent, a Montana newspaper. He also adds, “A lot of Texas cowboys stayed in Montana after they got off the trail. Not all of them disliked the northern range. Many found it appealing, settled down, and called it home.”

Many have performed this classic, but perhaps few as colorfully as Montanans Brigid and Johnny “Guitar” Reedy on their new Next Go ‘Round CD.


The two Reedys have been lighting up stages across the West, from the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering to the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering to the Lost ‘n Lava Cowboy Gathering, the Texas Hill Country Cowboy Gathering, and beyond. Find them later this year at the Cowpoke Fall Gathering.

Gifted musician, poet, and artist, 19-year old Brigid Reedy and her equally talented brother, Johnny “Guitar” Reedy⁠—14 on the outside and a cool 40 on the inside—have been performing for most of their lives.

The accomplished duo’s new Next Go ‘Round is brimming with Western tunes, swing classics, folk and traditional music, blues, jazz, original pieces, and more, all delivered with the highest level of professionalism.

Deeply rooted in traditional music and standards, they combine dazzling technique and unmatchable sibling harmony with exuberance, throughout. Joy fuels their performances.

The carefully selected classic and traditional tunes range from the obscure to the better known. They also offer their own inventive tunes, with pizzazz.

Western pieces “Drifting Texas Sands” and “Texas Cowboy” are solid anchors. They introduce the latter as “One for our old buddy Glenn Ohrlin,” the beloved late folk musician and music historian who was a great friend and admirer. He’s just one of many Western greats who have praised this duo.

Their original compositions stand out and stand up to the classics. “Little Too Long in the Bunkhouse” shows off dizzying craft along with inventive scat singing. Their versatility shines in a dreamy instrumental “Palio Waltz.”

Brigid’s solo creations include the winning, “Ask Him to Dance,” “Sleep Though the Sun is Shining,” “I Love Going Nowhere with You,” and the short, dramatic, “Moth Hunter.”

There’s lots of fun here. “I Heard,” Don Redman’s song that was featured in a 1930’s film starring Betty Boop, is a delight. Also from the period is Irving Berlin’s eccentric “My Walking Stick,” from the movie Alexander’s Ragtime Band, delivered with impeccable style. Their rendition of “The Devil Ain’t Lazy” surely has Bob Wills smiling down on them.

Traditional songs range from a convincing “Mean Old Bed Bug Blues” to an appealing “Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden” ballad and much in between.


Considerable thought, research, and skill built this project. The delightful package is as charming as the music, filled with art and commentary by Brigid Reedy. The rest of the family had important roles, including production and art direction by their father John Reedy and graphic design by their mother, artist Heather Kahrl Reedy. Next Go ‘Round was recorded at The Round Barn near Twin Bridges, Montana, a venue on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s pure entertainment. Treat yourself. Find it at brigidreedy.com.



A recent cover story in Alta magazine’s Winter 2020 issue, “Songs of the New West,” by Meredith Lawrence, profiles Brigid Reedy and she comments on her work with her brother. Andy Hedges, Amy Hale Steiger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Dom Flemons are also featured.

Thanks to John Reedy (reedy.photoshelter.com, well worth viewing) for this photograph of Brigid and Johnny.

Find more at brigidreedy.com.


Request permission to share this post; the song is in the public domain.


 The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry produces compilation CDs of classic and contemporary poetry recitations. The CDs are offered to libraries in the Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week Rural Library project, given as premiums to the Center’s supporters, and available to the public.

The current CD series is MASTERS.

Coming in 2020:  MASTERS: VOLUME FOUR, the poetry of Badger Clark.



MASTERS: VOLUME THREE contains over 60 tracks in a three-disc CD of the poetry of  Bruce Kiskaddon. Voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet.  Kiskaddon expert Bill Siems introduces the CD.

Find more about MASTERS: VOLUME THREE here.


2018_MastersCD_Cover_700X700 (2)

MASTERS: VOLUME TWO (April, 2018) contains over 60 tracks in a double CD of the poetry of S. Omar Barker. Many of today’s top reciters and poets—including individuals,  siblings, couples, parents and children—bring forth Barker’s humor and humanity. Andy Hedges introduces the CD.

Find more about MASTERS: VOLUME TWO here.



The first CD in the series. MASTERS (2017), includes the works of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens, reciting their poetry in recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs). Jay Snider introduces the CD.

Find more about MASTERS (2017) here.


Previous to the MASTERS series, the Center produced ten volumes of The BAR-D Roundup.



The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—is held each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster—by Shawn Cameron in 2019; by Clara Smith in 2018; by Jason Rich in 2017; by Gary Morton in 2016; by Don Dane in 2015; by Jason Rich in 2014; Shawn Cameron in 2013; by R.S. Riddick in 2012, Duward Campbell in 2011, Bill Owen in 2010, Bob Coronato in 2009; William Matthews in 2008; Tim Cox in 2007; and Joelle Smith in 2006—are offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Project. The outreach program is a part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Join us and be a part of it all.




by A.K. Moss

Within the wind a whisper. Can you hear the cattle bawl?
Can you hear the cavvy coming? The cowboys’ yips and call?
Of history in the desert, a million acre spread.
Nineteen thousand head of cattle with one iron, it’s been said
They were hands of twisted fate, in lonesome company.
They have stood here at the gate of the mighty MC.

Cowboys rode her country, the gunsel and buckaroo,
The vaquero, the misfits, and the top hands in the crew,
Such as Cahill, Betsinger, Hill, Gooch and Black,
Names now forgotten, empty saddles on the rack.
Ole Dixon, Nicol, Gunderson, Rupp, and Read,
The last who tell the stories of the hide and tallow breed.
Of the vastness, the hardship, of boys turned to men,
Of the ghosts and legends, stories told without a pen.
They rode on big boned broncs and snorty horses on the bit,
Pulling leather, horn and rawhide, all made of desert grit.

I feel the sand bite as it whips across my face,
I hear them riding in as they quietly take their place.
I stand within its boundaries, where cattle came to drink,
The skeleton of ribbed rails makes me stop and think,
While in the distance I hear the haunting cattle bawl.
I hear the cavvy coming, the cowboys yips and call
As they gather in my heart, no place I’d rather be.
I bear witness in the corrals at the mighty MC.

Most carried a snaffle or bosal, others finished in the spade,
Big circles that they traveled, no tougher horse made.
From a hand, the twist of the wrist, with the silence of a stocker
They cast a Houlihan, the Scoop Trap, or they toss a Johnny Blocker,
A school house of tradition, where no walls or books explain
The art of feel and timing, beyond singed hair, hoof and mane.

In Oregon history, in the sea of sage and sand,
No trace just mystery, no scars upon the land,
Of characters who rode before, just stories now told,
Of the horses and the legacy all prior to being sold.

Within the wind a whisper. Can you hear the cattle bawl?
Can you hear the cavvy coming? The cowboys’ yips and call?
Of history in the desert, a million acres spread.
Nineteen thousand head of cattle with one iron, it’s been said.
They were hands of twisted fate, in lonesome company.
They have stood here at the gate of the mighty MC.

© 2018, A.K. Moss
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Go right to the impressive YouTube collection of photographs of the MC Ranch and its buckaroos and cowboys that Oregon’s Kathy Moss created along with her recitation of this poem.

Oregon’s Kathy Moss comments:

“The Mighty MC” was written about the famous MC Ranch and corrals out of Adel, Oregon, which many know from the song by Ian Tyson, “MC Horses.”

In 2004 we liquidated 83 head of horses from an old friend who passed away. We sold them out of the old MC Corrals. Billie Flick, wife of Leon Flick, had spearheaded the sale. It had been overcast all day with a storm silently brewing into the evening. When we had finished loading the last horse, a silence, a stillness, seemed to have stopped time.

In that stillness I started to think of the history those old corrals had held, the cattle, the cavvy and the boys who rode those raw-boned horses of the desert. The rails, brittle from hard winters and desert sun, told a silent story that only a mystic imagination could picture.

In the dark, a lone cricket lost in the weigh shack started to chirp its evening tune. Billie and I were the last ones to stand in the silence, only for a moment of a very long day, when in that stillness came a sudden gust of wind that blew ghosts through the rails. I could almost hear the place come alive with all that had been.

As varied as her own background—horsewoman, cowboy, poet, novelist, and more—Kathy Moss’s unique recent CD, The Truth, presents diverse voices and moods in poems that speak of authentic experience and pay tribute to important influences in her life and work.

akmosscd (1).jpg

Listen to a clips from the album at CDBaby. Find more about the CD here on this blog, where you can also find Rick Huff’s “Best of the West” review. Visit A.K. Moss Books on Facebook and her site, akmossbooks.com.

Find Kathy Moss this coming weekend at Colorado’s 31st annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, October 3rd – 7th, 2019. Evening performers include Trinity Seely, Ross Knox, Brooke Turner, Margaret Wilhelm, Greg Hager, Bill Lowman, and Mary Kaye. Daytime performers include Jarle Kvale, Kathy Moss, Paul Larson, Almeda Bradshaw, Tom Swearingen, Thatch Elmer, Ol’ Jim Cathey, Nolan King, Emelia Knaphus, Chris Isaacs, Two Bit Pete, Allora Leonard, Carol Markstrom, Dan McCorison, Slim McWilliams, Dave Munsick, Sam Noble, Jonathan Odermann, Don Schauda, The Sawyer Family, Lindy Simmons, Kacey and Jenna Thunborg, Cora Rose Wood, and Laurie Wood. Find more at durangocowboypoetrygathering.org.

Kathy Moss has been nominated as top female poet by the International Western Music Association. Follow her on Facebook for her upcoming events and more, facebook.com/kathy.moss.585.

2019 National Day of the Cowboy in Prairie City Oregon, from  left , Billie Flick, Brenn Hill, Joni Harms, A.K. Moss, Andy Nelson

The photo at the top of the page of Don Hill at the MC at sunrise is courtesy of John Langmore.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photograph with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)

OCTOBER’S EARLY SNOW by Dennis Russell


by Dennis Russell

I search as I ride while my horse’s hooves glide
In October’s early snow.
We’re prowlin’ quite wide as the heifers all hide
From this winter’s first big show.

It’s been a week now we cut calves from our cows.
In their eyes it don’t seem right.
I still can recall the cow’s lone distant bawl.
She worried on through the night.

With weaning all done as calves look for warm sun
Their whole world is turning white.
Well how could they know as the grass turns to snow
That this day’ll end up all right?

We ride up this way in the fall every day
To check calves and breathe fresh air.
My horse stops to drink as his feet slowly sink
In the stream. He takes his share.

My thoughts stray off course while I doze on my horse
As we prowl without true goal.
It’s this time of year that a man can think clear
When his heart is near his soul.

With a gentle push past tall trees and oak bush
Cold young calves will start downhill.
We’ll wind on around with the heifers all found
T’where it’s warm. They’ll shake this chill.

Calves will find good grass. There is none they will pass.
Oh my Lord! A grand ol’ sight.
This bunch will sleep sound in the soft grassy mounds.
They’ll be safe and warm tonight.

© 2017, Dennis Russell
This poem should be reposted or reprinted without permission


New Mexico rancher Dennis Russell’s bio tells that he “…blends his original western poems and songs as well as sharing some of the classics at campfires or cowboy gatherings.”

He includes “October’s Early Snow” on his new CD, New Mexico Stray. The track notes tell, “In the dry years we used to leave our cattle in the mountain pastures as long as there was grass, even into the late fall and “October’s Early Snow.”

The subtitle of the CD is “A collection of music and poetry I hold close to my heart,” and he comments, “Every song, poem, or story that is put on paper or dedicated to memory is created from the tracks of a trail already ridden. As for me, I’ve crossed many trails with many tracks. Some are quite simple to read, while others, are still not understood to this day. And yet they all make up what I am in my heart.” New Mexico Stray is a mix of original and classic poetry and music, and you can listen to full tracks at his web site.


The title of the CD refers to Bruce Kiskaddon’s poem of the same name. Dennis Russell’s recitation of that poem is on his CD and on the new triple CD from CowboyPoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.

Dennis is the founder of New Mexico’s annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering held at the Philmont Scout Ranch. The 6th annual event takes place August 22-25, 2019.

Scheduled poets and musicians include Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Broken Chair Band, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Cowboy Way, Danner Hampton, Randy Huston, Jill Jones, Peggy Malone, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Terry Nash, Claudia Nygaard, Dale Page, Dennis Russell, Rocky Sullivan, Rod Taylor, and Barry Ward.

Find more about Dennis Russell at cowboypoetry.com and at his site, cimarroncowboypoet.com.

The above photo of Dennis Russell was taken by Dale Page in Redwing, Colorado. The photo below is by Valerie Beard.

Dennis Russell by Valerie  May of 2019.jpg


Celebrate the NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY, Saturday, July 27, 2019


(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)

MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon


photo of Bruce Kiskaddon licensed from the Aultman Collection, History Colorado

“We are so very fortunate that the Center For Western and Cowboy Poetry / CowboyPoetry.com even exists, but particularly because [they] annually issue performances of the most revered classic Cowboy Poetry as part of their MASTERS series, making them available to libraries and learning institutions.  Staring out from the cover of MASTERS: VOLUME THREE is the strikingly handsome face of the young Bruce Kiskaddon, one of the most personally accomplished, admired and often performed Cowboy Poets of all time.  Here you have three CDs packed with fifty-eight Kiskaddons they somehow culled from among his nearly five hundred poems.  Most of the fine reciters chosen for the release are recognized poets in the own rights from current times and the past.  As always, great consideration has been given to the flow from work to work on the CDs, making the collection all the more enjoyable.  If you are not already Kiskaddon-oriented, let this opportunity immerse you in what it really is to be—and see through the eyes and feel with the heart of—a cowboy.  Highly recommended.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“These CDs are historic collections that will be appreciated for generations to come.” Charley Engel, “Chuckaroo the Buckaroo” of Calling All Cowboys radio

Praise for previous CDs from CowboyPoetry.com:

“The MASTERS of cowboy poetry series from CowboyPoetry.com showcases both the masters of writing Western poetic words and masters of delivering those words.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“This album [MASTERS (2017)] represents four of the finest poets to ever come out of cowboy culture. We are not likely to see their kind again and the world should be grateful to Cowboypoetry.com for preserving their voices.” Andy Hedges, songster and host of COWBOY CROSSROADS

“…The annual anthology takes listeners on an oral excursion to places throughout the West, introducing them to colorful cowboy characters, explaining their connection to the land, and telling their tales of tough times and the rewards they receive from living the Western lifestyle…” Jennifer Denison, Senior Editor, Western Horseman

“The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry’s annual anthologies are creating a valuable, high quality and thoroughly enjoyable resource for everyone…” Steve Green, Archivist, Western Folklife Center

“…without peer…intelligently produced… I equate them to one of those Ken Burns specials, like his Civil War, Jazz, or Baseball….the best of the best.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“For those of us who love cowboy poetry, this is perhaps the best anthology we’ve yet heard.” Cowboy Magazine

The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry produces compilation CDs of classic and contemporary poetry recitations. The CDs are offered to libraries in the Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week Rural Library project, given as premiums to the Center’s supporters, and available to the public.


Our thirteenth CD (following ten volumes of The BAR-D Roundup and two MASTERS volumes) is MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon (April 2019).

MASTERS: VOLUME THREE has over 60 tracks in a multi-disc CD of the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950). Voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet. Bill Siems, whose monumental work, Open Range, collects almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems, introduces the CD.

Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)  worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.

Find more about Kiskaddon at CowboyPoetry.com.

The MASTERS CD is dedicated to all those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.


The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—takes place each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster (by Shawn Cameron in 2019) have been offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Program. The outreach program is part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

The annual CD is a premium for our supporters and also available for purchase. Find information about past years’ CDs here.

We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Join us and be a part of it all.


Order information

The MASTERS CD  is available for $35 postpaid. Order with a credit card at Paypal or by mail:  CowboyPoetry.com, Box 1107, Lexington, VA 24450.




Track list and description


The over 60 tracks on three CDs begin with an biographical introduction to Bruce Kiskaddon by Bill Siems, whose monumental work, Open Range, collects almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems.

The poetry begins with some of the best known of Kiskaddon’s reflective poems, with a look backward to “when cattle were plenty and men were few.” Then poems that follow are, somewhat in this order: about cowboys and men; work; cattle; horses (and one mule); heavenly concerns; times gone by; quirky characters; gear; a ghost tale; and a few Christmas poems. Musician and top sound engineer Butch Hause offers a colorful radio PSA for the Center and Cowboy Poetry Week.



2. from LOOKING BACKWARD Randy Rieman
7. ALONE Trey Allen (1971-2016)
10. THE DRIFTER Ol’ Jim Cathey
11. HE DIDN’T BELONG Rod Miller
14. THE OLD NIGHT HAWK Chris Isaacs
15. THE NEW MEXICO STRAY Dennis Russell
16. MICROBES Jerry Brooks
17. STARTIN’ OUT Gail Steiger
18. COW SENSE Deanna Dickinson McCall
19. THE COW AND THE CALF Amy Hale Auker
20. NOT SO SLOW Jessica Hedges
22. THE LONG HORN SPEAKS Valerie Beard


2. EARLY WORM Keith Ward
3. RIDIN’ FENCE Gail Steiger
4. FEEDIN’ TIME John Reedy
5. THEY CAN TAKE IT Baxter Black
6. THAT LITTLE BLUE ROAN J.B. Allen (1938-2005)
7. THE BELL MARE Brigid Reedy
8. FORGOTTEN Jesse Smith
10. WHEN HE COLD JAWS Duane Nelson
11. CAUGHT NAPPIN’ Keith Ward
12. PULLIN’ LEATHER Gary McMahan
13. ON FOOT Kathy Moss
14. HER COLT Susie Knight
15. THE ARMY MULE Kay Kelley Nowell
16. THE GENTLE HOSS Tom Swearingen
17. THE OLD COW PONY Dick Morton
20. THE COW BOY’S DREAM Waddie Mitchell


3. THEN AND NOW Andy Nelson
4. PROGRESS Dale Page
5. THE BRANDIN’ CORRAL Almeda Bradshaw
6. AUGERIN’ Smoke Wade
8. A COWBOY’S BRAINS Sunny Hancock (1931-2003)
9. DRINKIN’ WATER Jarle Kvale
10. WET BOOTS Johnny Reedy
11. ALKALI IKE’S ZIPPERS Rusty McCall (1986-2013)
12. WORKIN’ IT OVER David McCall
14. HER MAN Susie Knight

17. THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS Linda Kirkpatrick
18. MERRY CHRISTMAS (1933) Gail Steiger



Thanks to the poets, reciters, and families and to Bill Siems, Andy Hedges, Margaret Allen, Jeffrey Hancock, the McCall family, the Western Folklife Center, the Cowboy Crossroads podcast, History Colorado, Andy Nelson and Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio, Totsie Slover and The Real West from the Old West radio, and Chris Kirby. Produced by Margo Metegrano and compiled and mastered by Butch Hause at the Ranger Station Studio, Berthoud, Colorado, all with generous funding support from Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield, Jr., the Margaret T. Morris Foundation, and our community’s all-important sustaining donors.

Photograph of Bruce Kiskaddon licensed from the Aultman Collection, History Colorado.

“Shadow of a Cowboy,” by Andy Hedges


Shadow of a Cowboy is as entertaining as it is authentic. Selections draw from the deep roots of traditional country, cowboy, folk, and Western music. The tracks stretch from Teddie Blue Abbott through Pete Seeger to Tucker Zimmerman and beyond as Andy Hedges interprets the past and creates new sounds.

When asked about the overall inspiration for this CD, he comments, “This record was a bit of a hodgepodge of songs that I had collected but I think a theme began to arise in that the songs came from a variety of sources and spanned several eras. I had a vision to do an album of songs that show that the cowboy music tradition has continued from the trail driving era to the 1920s-30s to the 1950-70s to the present day…”

That earliest period is represented by “The Ogallaly Song,” a traditional piece included in the classic We Pointed Them North book by E.C. “Teddie Blue” Abbott. Abbott writes, “I never counted the verses…but you could keep on singing it all night.” Hedges captures that sense.

An unbroken thread of connections among musicians and songwriters weaves through “Shadow of a Cowboy.” The title track, a song by Tucker Zimmerman, came to Hedges when he contacted Zimmerman about another of his songs, “Oregon,” also included in this project. Andy Hedges tells that he knew “Oregon” from Derrol Adams’ recording. He says, “Derroll Adams was Ramblin’ Jack’s old banjo playing partner and they traveled to Europe together in the 1950s.” Billy Faier, known for his work with Pete Seeger, has his “Song of the Cuckoo” included, and the tag at the end is from “912 Greens” by Ramblin’ Jack.

So much is packed into the ten tracks of Shadow of a Cowboy. The varied songs flow and  invite repeated listening. As in earlier projects, inspired, ethereal harmonies of Alissa Hedges add layers of interest to a number of her husband’s tracks. Designer Dirk Fowler’s spare and evocative art reflects the soul of the project.

Other songs include “The Horsetrader’s Song” by prolific songwriter and musician Jimmy Driftwood; Carter Family member Sara Carter and her husband A.P. Carter’s “Lonesome Pine Special”; and folksinger and rodeo cowboy Peter LaFarge’s vivid tale of “Iron Mountain.”

Three other outstanding tracks are the collaborations with three respected cowboy poets, Joel Nelson, John Dofflemyer and Waddie Mitchell.

Andy Hedges heard Joel Nelson perform his stellar “Horseback Man for Hirea cappella and is quoted, in a Western Horseman article by Jennifer Denison that includes audio, “It stayed in my mind…I’m honored to be the first person to record it… I believe Joel is one of the most important cowboy poets out there today. He’s a thoughtful writer, wonderful reciter, and a respected horseman and working cowboy.”

Andy Hedges says of “Tennis Shoes,” Dofflemyer’s tribute to a friend, “…I don’t believe that I changed a single word. The music came easily for this one.”

“Long Johns On,” from words written by Waddie Mitchell and further enlivened with a melody suggested by Alissa Hedges, is unforgettable fun. Really unforgettable; it has genuine–yet delightful–ear worm qualities. Find a video performance of it from the Western Folklife Center’s 2019 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

That humorous gem brings to mind the work of the late, great, beloved Glenn Ohrlin, music historian, performer, friend of Andy Hedges, and one of his heroes. Earlier this month, he paid tribute to him at the Ozark Folk Center. You can’t help but wish that Glenn Ohrlin was still around to hear “Long Johns On” and this entire album.

Someone once wrote about Glenn Ohrlin that he created “…a style that is at once powerful and understated.” And that comment could serve as well as a perfect description of Andy Hedges and the impressive Shadow of a Cowboy.

Find more at andyhedges.com and while you are there, be sure to tune into his “Cowboy Crossroads” podcasts, which are valuable and entertaining visits with cowboys, poets, musicians, and other representatives of the working West.