Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, December 2, 2017

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Via Paul Zarzyski:

MONTEREY COWBOY POETRY & MUSIC FESTIVAL
Golden State Theatre, December 2, 2017
Monterey, California

There’s a new, young hot Rodeo “Poet” named Ned LeDoux (yup, son of the GREAT Chris LeDoux) coming to town—not to be confused with the old (rhymes with cold) Rodeo Poet with the unpronounceable Z-name (not Jay Z, but, you know, the other Z?) who has appeared at The Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival for at least 15 go-‘rounds over the past couple decades.  Oh, incidentally, he’ll be there again, as well—passing the mantle on to Ned and his rollicking “Ned Head” fans, and joining virtuoso singer-songwriter and local horseman extraordinaire, Mike Beck, along with one of the top trios ever to fork the cowboy stages, New West. You cannot, however, gather such a herd of reckless-abandon buckin’ stock together in the same theater without a Chute Boss who savvies how to ramrod all of the moving/working parts of such a wild-bunch pitchin’. You got it—we’re talking a silver-tongued emcee with the presence of, say, Richard Boone playing Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel, Sam Elliott playing Conagher, or maybe even Slim Pickens playing Major Kong in Dr. Strangelove, and, well, now that Pat Garrett and Wyatt Earp are daisy fodder, there’s only one such ex-lawman-turned-top-hand-at-the-microphone who can pull this superhuman feat off, Mick Vernon! Or, as his friends affectionately refer to this former director of the Festival and notable cowboy poet and singer in his own right,  “Slick Mickey.”

So, if you’re indeed tuned-in to my pitch here, you just know that some good ol’ jump-n-kick, rock-n-rowel Saturday-night fun will be had by all in the ol’ town of Monterey on Dec. 2 at the Golden State Theatre— both on stage, and, especially, in the bleacher seats! And if you’re still not jacked-up over this newsflash, then you must be bunkin’ in some Boot Hill bone-yard out of earshot of my astoundingly loud megaphone announcement to either be there or else live with the tormenting regrets of all those of us who chose to skip the Monterey Pop Festival, 50 years ago in ’67, and/or Woodstock in ‘69!  Trust someone in-the-know on this sorrowful note, such deep-seated decades-long remorse over life’s missed opportunities will run your bar tabs up through the pressed-tin bullet-hole-riddled ceilings of your favorite waterin’ troughs.  And…say what? “You weren’t even here to attend Monterey Pop or Woodstock, cuz you were not yet born?!” ALL THE BETTER! Here’s your chance to make up for your tardy arrival in this dimension—to boast, “I was there, however, at The Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival to hear Ned LeDoux and his band performing hits from his newly-released album, Sagebrush, back in ought-seventeen!”

To cut to the proverbial chase, (cow)boys and (cow)girls, ladies and gents, aliens and E.T.s, those of you who choose to be in the audience at the Golden State Theatre on December 2 will be the honest-to-God stars of this event. Which is to say, we won’t be performing to you or for you, as much as we’ll be celebrating the spiritful presence of all of us creative beings magically gathering in the same microcosmic wild-west time-n-space. Because that’s how such “Close Poetic Encounters of the Otherworldly Cowpoke Cosmos Kind” transcend the expected and soar toward celestial, magical places of story and song that we yearn to visit, always with our kindred spirits, our fellow soulful travelers.  In advance of your joining us, I offer this Thank You! from “the other Z”:

GRATITUDE

In the height of this poetry moment
Right people, right place, and right time,
The universe stirs to chevrons of words
While The Zenith Cathedral bells chime.

In the heat of this poetry moment,
Hoist your grails to Beauty and Truth—
Through fire and smoke, wild not broke,
One more round from The Geyser of Youth.

In the heart of this poetry moment,
To your tempo, your rhythm, your flow—
With ink from my veins, Three Cheers! in quatrains
For the spirit you’ve brought to this show.

© Paul Zarzyski

More about the Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival at montereycowboy.org and on Facebook.

Find more about Paul Zarzyski at CowboyPoetry.com and at his site, paulzarzyski.com.

Theodore Waddell: My Montana—Paintings and Sculpture, 1959-2016

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Montana native Theodore Waddell’s works have been said to have “immense, poetic dignity.” A new volume, Theodore Waddell: My Montana—Paintings and Sculpture, 1959-2016 from the University of Oklahoma Press looks at the life and experience that informs his work. Rick Newby relies on letters, journals, and interviews to profile the artist and his craft in this eminently readable work.

It’s not possible to label Waddell’s style, beyond “modern.” Large, impressionistic, abstract, full-yet-minimalist-inspired landscapes dominate his painting. In a foreword, former Montana Congressman Pat Williams writes, “The sparsity of his painting, what he leaves out as well as what he puts in, restores the memories of our visions.” The artist is quoted, “The traditional artists don’t like me because I am not realistic enough, and the contemporary artists don’t like me because I am too realistic.”

A number of essays by critics and friends are included in the book, and rodeo poet and lyricist Paul Zarzyski is one of those friends. In a piece titled “From Captain Woodrow Call to Captain Kirk to Captain Teddy-Bob Waddell of the Wild Cowpoke Wild Brushstroke Wild Cosmos West,” he celebrates Waddell’s contribution to “…what’s left of the iconoclastic un-cloned cowboy West…”

Zaryski appreciates the scale and sense of the work, and comments that “…landscape rules the Western roost for me as a poet, especially as a ‘cowboy poet.'” He describes the impact of the first time he saw the 10’x5’ “Sun River Horses.” He writes, “Instead of my drinking ‘it’ in, the painting swallowed me into its being like a T. Rex ingesting a no-see-um.” An image of the painting later appeared as one of Zarzyski’s book covers.

Waddell’s family history as well as his artistic influences are explored. A generous chapter, “The Ranching and Painting Years,” is a candid look at twenty years of ranching near Molt, Montana. An understanding of the artist’s use of space, texture and color, and the influence of weather come to fore from its pages.

The book is lavishly filled with glorious color images and photographs. The reader is left with a satisfying sense of what drives this unique artist and why his canvases and sculptures are impressive and important.

The book’s many-page index of publications by and about Theodore Waddell follow his career and its reception by the art world. An impressive exhibition history is included, which also lists the numerous permanent collections that hold his art.

Theodore Waddell’s painting, “Sheep #12,” was selected as the poster art for the Western Folklife Center’s 2018 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

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Find more about Theodore Waddell at theodorewaddell.com. There’s more on the book and order information at the University of Oklahoma Press and other booksellers.

ALL THIS WAY FOR THE SHORT RIDE by Paul Zarzyski

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ALL THIS WAY FOR THE SHORT RIDE
by Paul Zarzyski

After grand entry cavalcade of flags,
Star-Spangled Banner, stagecoach figure 8s
in a jangle of singletrees, after trick riders
sequined in tights, clowns in loud getups,
queens sashed pink or chartreuse
in silk—after the fanfare—the domed
rodeo arena goes lights-out
black: stark silent
prayer for a cowboy crushed by a ton
of crossbred Brahma.

……………………………………What went wrong —
too much heart behind a high kick,
both horns hooking earth, the bull vaulting
a half-somersault to its back—
each witness recounts with the same
gruesome note: the wife
stunned in a bleacher seat
and pregnant with their fourth. In this dark
behind the chutes, I strain to picture,
through the melee of win with loss,
details of a classic ride—body curled
fetal to the riggin’, knees up,
every spur stroke in perfect sync,
chin tucked snug. In this dark,
I rub the thick neck of my bronc, his pulse
rampant in this sudden night
and lull. I know the instant
that bull’s flanks tipped beyond
return, how the child inside
fought with his mother for air
and hope, his heart with hers
pumping in pandemonium—in shock,
how she maundered in the arena
to gather her husband’s bullrope and hat, bells
clanking to the murmur of crowd
and siren’s mewl.

……………………………………The child learned early
through pain the amnion could not protect him from,
through capillaries of the placenta, the sheer
peril of living with a passion
that shatters all at once
from infinitesimal fractures
in time. It’s impossible, when dust
settling to the backs of large animals
makes a racket you can’t think in,
impossible to conceive that pure fear,
whether measured in degrees of cold
or heat, can both freeze
and incinerate so much
in mere seconds. When I nod
and they throw this gate open to the same
gravity, the same 8 ticks
of the clock, number 244 and I
will blow for better or worse
from this chute—flesh and destiny up
for grabs, a bride’s bouquet
pitched blind.

(In Memory of Joe Lear)

© 1996, Paul Zarzyski. Used with permission.
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Iconoclast poet and songwriter Paul Zarzyski tells the sad story that inspired this tribute to his friend, bullrider Joe Lear, in a recent StoryCorps segment recorded at the Western Folklife Center’s recent National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Listen here. Find other stories at that link and learn how to record your own Storycorps piece at the Western Folklife Center.

His book, All This Way for the Short Ride: Roughstock Sonnets, 1971-1996: Poems, received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. See the poem on his web site. Read artist and writer Teresa Jordan’s introduction to the book here.

Paul Zarzyski and Tom Russell collaborated on a lyric based on the poem, and you can listen to the popular tune. Find another version here.

Paul’s latest release is Steering With My Knees, an enormously dazzling double CD of music and poetry with an accompanying and likewise engaging “digibook.”

It is described, “Featuring a Veritable Symphony of Esteemed Musicians Playing Electric/ Acoustic / Lap Steel / Bass / Slide Guitars, Alto and Tenor Sax, Piano, Cello, Drums, Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba, Jaw Harp, Didgeridoo, String Bass, Flugelhorn, Fiddle, Flute, Keyboards, Accordion, Pizzicato Viola, Blues Harmonica, Banjo, Mandolin, Theremin… as well as the application of Electric / Foley / Bell Sounds, Voice Impersonations, and, last but not least, The Singing of Poetry and Lyrics.”

Like most things Zarzyski, the entire project is a singular experience.

Find more about Paul Zarzyski at CowboyPoetry.com, www.cowboypoetry.com/paulzarzyski.htm; at his web site, paulzarzyski.com; and on Facebook.

This is a photo of Paul riding “Whiskey Talks” in Great Falls, Montana.