MASTERS CD Series

 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

 

THE MIGHTY MC, by A.K. Moss

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THE MIGHTY MC
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.

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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.

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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

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OCTOBER’S EARLY SNOW
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.

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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.

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

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(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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Below:

Track list and description
Acknowledgements

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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.

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DISC ONE

1. ABOUT BRUCE KISKADDON Bill Siems
2. from LOOKING BACKWARD Randy Rieman
3. WHEN THEY’VE FINISHED SHIPPING CATTLE IN THE FALL Randy Rieman
4. THE BRONCHO TWISTER’S PRAYER Jay Snider
5. THE TIME TO DECIDE Andy Hedges
6. THE CREAK OF THE LEATHER Gary McMahan
7. ALONE Trey Allen (1971-2016)
8. AFTER THE FALL ROUNDUP Floyd Beard
9. BETWEEN THE LINES Jay Snider
10. THE DRIFTER Ol’ Jim Cathey
11. HE DIDN’T BELONG Rod Miller
12. IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ME OR IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN YOU Ken Cook
13. THE LONG EARED BULL Ross Knox
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
21. SHOVELING THE ICE OUT OF THE TROUGH Robert Dennis
22. THE LONG HORN SPEAKS Valerie Beard

DISC TWO

1. INTRODUCTORY Ken Cook
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
9. WHEN YOU’RE THROWED Randy Rieman
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
18. WHEN CONNORS RODE REP FOR THE LORD Ross Knox
19. JUDGMENT DAY DW Groethe
20. THE COW BOY’S DREAM Waddie Mitchell

DISC THREE

1. AN OLD WESTERN TOWN Randy Rieman
2. THE MEDICINE SHOW Andy Hedges
3. THEN AND NOW Andy Nelson
4. PROGRESS Dale Page
5. THE BRANDIN’ CORRAL Almeda Bradshaw
6. AUGERIN’ Smoke Wade
7. THE MAN ON THE FENCE Bill Siems
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
13. THE LOST FLANNINS Terry Nash
14. HER MAN Susie Knight
15. GHOST CANYON TRAIL Rex Rideout

CHRISTMAS POEMS
16. CHRISTMAS AT THE HOME RANCH Keith Ward
17. THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS Linda Kirkpatrick
18. MERRY CHRISTMAS (1933) Gail Steiger

19. CENTER FOR WESTERN AND COWBOY POETRY RADIO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (PSA) Butch Hause

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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

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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.

 

HORSEBACK MAN FOR HIRE lyrics by Joel Nelson

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and Andy Hedges, courtesy of Andy Hedges

HORSEBACK MAN FOR HIRE
lyrics by Joel Nelson

Twenty miles away the R.E.A.
Ran out of poles and wire
I earn my pay the cowboy way
I’m a horseback man for hire
Yipee-yi-yay
I’m a horseback man for hire

Where I was born every saddle horn
Had a rope tied hard and fast
All the boots were worn – all the shirts were torn
And we held on to the past
Yippee-yi-yay
We held on to the past

Now I take my turns and the mulehide burns
When I need to slip a coil
I play my gig in a double rig
I’m a grandson of the soil
Yippee-yi-yay
I’m a grandson of the soil

I’m no one’s fool – I’ve been to school
I’ve taken my degree
But the cattle bawl and the coyote’s call
Are the things that beckon me
They’re the things that call to me
So I step astride and I start my ride
While the sun is still asleep
I’m bonafide – I been certified
And my roots run mighty deep
Yippee-yi-yay
My roots run mighty deep

I don’t need to smoke your weed
To get me feelin’ right
Just a canvas bed to lay my head
When the stars come out at night
Yippee-yi-yay
With the dipper shinin’ bright

Bridge:
My thumbs ain’t flexed cause I don’t text
Your emails leave me cold
Go lick a stamp that’ll find my camp
On a letter I can hold
Yippee-yi-yay
Send a letter I can hold

I like a good book by my chair
I like hot tea by the fire
Where I can read without a care
When the wind – howls – through – the – wire
Cause I’m a horseback man for hire

Your gilded halls and shopping malls
Can’t hold me very long
So I quit the scene of fine cuisine
To be where I belong
Yippee-yi-yay
Out here’s where I belong

I got a darn good life and a darlin’ wife
She sets my heart on fire
She’s a pretty thing and she wears my ring
She’s horseback and for hire
Yippe-yi-yay
She’s a horseback girl for hire

When I cease to be you can bury me
Or build a funeral pyre
Just scatter my ash and divide my cash
With a horseback man for hire
Yippe-yi-yay
With a horseback man for hire

Bridge:

I need lots of space from the human race
I need solitude from the multitude
I need reverie on the lone prairie
These are things that – I – require
I’m a horseback man for hire
Yippee-yi-yay
I’m a horseback man for hire and
You can’t take it away
I’m a horseback man for…
Hire

© Joel Nelson, used with permission

Songster Andy Hedges’ rendition of rancher, horseman, and poet Joel Nelson’s lyrics is a standout on his new Shadow of a Cowboy album.

Western Horseman recently debuted the song and quoted Andy Hedges:

Joel Nelson wrote the lyrics to “Horseback Man for Hire,” and I heard him sing it a cappella…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.

Find the song and Western Horseman article by Jennifer Denison here.

Find more about Joel Nelson at cowboypoetry.com.

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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.”

Two other outstanding tracks are the collaborations with two additional respected cowboy poets, John Dofflemyer and Waddie Mitchell. 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.

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

Rick Huff’s “Best of the West Reviews,” Spring, 2019

Rick Huff reviews Western music and cowboy poetry releases in his “Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews” column in The Western Way from the Western Music Association and in other publications.

Rick Huff considers Western music books and recordings; cowboy poetry books, chapbooks, and recordings;  and relevant videos for review. For other materials, please query first: bestofthewest@swcp.com.

Please be sure to include complete contact information, price (plus postage) and order address information.

From Rick Huff, February, 2012:

Policy of the Column: It should be understood by artists sending material that it is being done for review consideration. Submitting such material does not ensure that it will be reviewed. Also, predominantly religious material is not accepted for review in the column. If further clarification is needed, contact Rick Huff, PO Box 8442, Albuquerque, NM 87198-8442.

Rick Huff
P.O. Box 8442
Albuquerque, NM 87198-8442

Find other recent reviews here and hundreds of previous reviews on CowboyPoetry.com.

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Selections from “Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews,” Spring, 2019, below:

•  A. K. Moss The Truth
  Tom Swearingen Language of the Land

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THE TRUTH
A.K. Moss

Beyond her convincing delivery and thoughtful verse, cowboy and poet A.K. Moss and producer Brenn Hill have obviously given a good deal of thought to production values for Moss’s release called The Truth. They frequently use (with permission) applicable clips and excerpts from other Western artists’ songs and verse, providing interesting atmospheric ushering. And acoustic guitarist Wes Aaasnes pops in periodically to finish weaving the sound tapestry.

Moss’s empowering “Wink Nod & Sigh” owes some of its inspiration to Georgie Sicking, and it features the voice of the late lady cowboy and poet in an excerpt from her own piece “Be Yourself.” Same goes for Joel Nelson, whose classic “Breaker In The Pen” is excerpted and serves a setting for Moss’s own “Soft Spoken Man.” In a gift from the effects department, an eerie wind speaks prescient volumes to the attuned in “The Mighty MC.” And a story extension worthy of O Henry stems from Tyson’s “Navajo Rug” in Moss’s work “The KT Diner.” Another CD pick (among the many—this one’s chock-full of ‘em) would have to be “He’ll Never Ride Again” that uses Brenn Hill’s “Into The Wind.”

If you haven’t yet done so, give a listen to A. K. (Kathy) Moss. From her own cowboy life experiences, in well-chosen and well-presented words, she does indeed speak “The Truth.”

Ten tracks. Highly recommended.

CD: available through akmossbooks.com

© 2019, Rick Huff

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LANGUAGE OF THE LAND
Tom Swearingen

Captured here for your enjoyment is another of the live performances from the Oregon cowboy poet Tom Swearingen.  In his latest release, Swearingen again shows his preference for gettin’ in and out quickly in verse, as most of the works make it in under the two-minute buzzer!  Present also is Swearingen’s believable, authentic style of presentation.

Collection picks this time include the title track “Language Of The Land” (one of the better descriptions of ‘range reading’ I’ve heard), “Ropin’ Mama’s Llama” (a yarn concerning his wife’s four-footed yarn supply), “Keep ‘Em Movin’ Slow Parts 1 & 2” (Part 1 is driving the herd into weather and Part 2 is driving them out…only fair), “Oh No You Don’t” (words of advice to a fleeing calf from his pursuer), “In The Shadow Of The Treeline” (a little cattle what-done-it) “Folks Who Do Know Horses” (why they will snow-roll…the horses, not the folks) and “Cowgirl From Nantucket” (talk about your real ‘me too movement’)!  The album closes with [a bonus track]:  Bruce Kiskaddon’s “The Gentle Hoss.”

Sixteen tracks.  Recommended.

CD:  $15 + s/h through oregoncowboypoet.com and downloads through iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby and others.

© 2019, Rick Huff